STARS Program

STARS signature with tagline

As a STARS student you:

  • Can earn an accelerated Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry, genetics and cell biology, microbiology or neuroscience in as little as 3 years.
  • Earn a doctorate in as little as 7 years after leaving high school.
  • Have one-on-one research and advising mentorship starting your freshman year.
  • Will finish your first year of graduate coursework in your senior year.
  • Are part of a small group of some of the top biomedical students in the country.

Where will the STARS program take you?

STARS students go on to medical school, dental school, veterinary school, or pharmacy school or immediately begin their careers in science, health, or medicine.  

STARS graduates are:

  • Students in medical training programs at top universities such as the Mayo Clinic
  • Medical educational professionals
  • Postdoctoral researchers at prestigious research institutions
  • AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellows
  • Patent Attorneys

QUESTIONS about how you can be a STARS student?

Contact Anita Peralta at

The 2022-2023 application cycle has closed. Applications for 2023-2024 will open in November 2022.

STARS Stories

Q&A with genetics and cell biology student Thomas Ballinger

Apr 30, 2021
Thomas is planning to get his Ph.D. here at WSU through the Students Targeted through Advanced Research Studies (STARS) program.

Where are you from and where did you graduate high school?
I am from Reno, Nevada, and I graduated high school from North Star Online School while dual enrolled in Truckee Meadows Community College. I am pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in music, as well as a Bachelor's of Science in genetics and cell biology. 

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Fencing was my favorite sport growing up and I joined the fencing club here at WSU but have not been able to go recently due to COVID and my studies. Other than fencing I spend a lot of my free time playing computer video games. I built my own gaming PC last summer. Lastly, I play piano, but I am not sure if that counts as a hobby since I am taking lesson credits here at WSU. I recently achieved my greatest accomplishment in piano, winning first place in the piano area for the New York Artists International Competition.

What’s your favorite thing about WSU?
My favorite thing about WSU would be the ample amount of opportunities for undergraduate research. I have been taking classes at WSU for four semesters and I have been working in a lab for three of those. It feels like there is so much going on throughout campus that it’s almost inevitable that you find something you like or find interesting. Also, the undergraduate research, in my experience, has not felt like the PI's or grad students were just making me do the grunt work, but rather were interested in teaching me lab techniques and preparing me to be a scientist. 

What’s your favorite course you’ve taken at WSU?
My favorite course I've taken at WSU would have to be MBIOS 301, General Genetics, that I am currently taking this semester. It’s the first class I have taken that is specifically about my major and it has only reaffirmed my decision for what I want to study. The professor for the class is Andrew McCubbin. I like how in the lectures the professor includes results of experiments he did in the past, and overall the class seems to be more practically oriented to what we will be doing in the future than some of the other science courses I have taken.

What’s a unique fun fact about you?
The farthest I have been from the United States is Costa Rica, where my family lived with a local in their house for a month. It was really cool to experience a different culture and way of life that I was used to growing up in the U.S. I hope to one day be able to visit them again.

Washington State University