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Pathways Program - Frequently Asked Questions

Students can go to the NIST USAJOBS website.

An individual must be currently enrolled or accepted for enrollment on at least a half-time schedule as a student at an accredited educational institution in a certificate, degree or diploma program, and must meet the qualification standards for the internship position.  

An individual must be within 2 years of completion of program requirements for an associates, bachelors, masters, professional, doctoral or technical/vocational degree or certificate from an accredited educational institution and meet the qualification standards for the position. Preference eligible veterans may be eligible for extensions on time to apply.   

Age 16 is the minimum age allowed for Federal employment.

Students appointed under the Internship Program who have met all requirements of the program and have satisfactorily completed the requirements for their diploma/certificate/degree may no longer remain in the program as they are no longer a student and no longer meet the eligibility for the program.   

Yes. Employees hired under the Pathways Programs are eligible for promotion, except for Interns on appointments expected to last less than 1 year.  

Yes, employees hired under the Pathways Programs on an appointment for 90 days or more are eligible to earn annual and sick leave. However, employees hired on an intermittent schedule are not eligible to earn annual and sick leave.

Health and life insurance coverage for Federal employees depends on the type of appointment an employee has and the expectation of substantial employment during the year. Students hired under the Internship Program on a temporary appointment are generally not entitled to these benefits. However, once they have been continuously employed for over a year without a break in service exceeding 5 days, they may enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, but they would have to pay 100 percent of the premium (i.e., both the employee and Government share). Temporary employees are not eligible for coverage under the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Program.   

Students hired under an Internship/Recent Graduate or PMF appointment for a period expected to last longer than 1 year are eligible for health and life insurance coverage as long as they are expected to be employed under this appointment for over 1 year and are expected to be in a pay status for at least one-third of the total period of time from the date of their initial appointment to the date of the completion of the Program. The cost of premiums is split between the employee and the agency, as it is for all permanent employees.

Students hired under the Internship Program are generally ineligible for retirement coverage. Recent Graduates and PMFs are eligible for retirement benefits if their appointment is for more than one year. 


Yes. Time spent serving as a Pathways Program participant counts towards career tenure when the individual is noncompetitively converted to a permanent position in the competitive service upon completion of the Program. In addition, time spent on a student temporary appointment is creditable towards any time in grade calculation.

Created March 8, 2024