The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) funds graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education. This program provides three years of financial support over a five-year fellowship period; for the 2023 application cycle, this amount was $37,000/year. This award is granted for the early years of research-based graduate studies in STEM. Thus, applicants ranging from undergraduate seniors and Bachelor’s-degree holders to first- or second-year graduate students may apply. The NSF GRFP also “actively encourages” applications from “women, persons who are members of groups historically underrepresented in STEM, persons with disabilities, and veterans.”
What follows is a summary of the information available on the NSF GRFP website. We also provide links to NSF GRFP webpages, which offer more detailed information and guidance. The NSF GRFP Program Solicitationexpands upon the information provided by the NSF GRFP website.
NSF GRFP Eligibility Requirements
- Be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident.
- Intend to enroll or be enrolled full-time in a research-based Master's or doctoral degree program in an eligible Field of Study in STEM or STEM education (See Appendix and Section IV.3 for eligible Fields of Study).
- Have never previously accepted a Graduate Research Fellowship.
If previously offered a Graduate Research Fellowship, have declined by the acceptance deadline.
- Have never previously applied to GRFP while enrolled in a graduate degree program.
Have never earned a doctoral or terminal degree in any field.
- Individuals holding joint Bachelor's-Master's degrees who did not progress directly to a doctoral program the semester following award of the joint degree must apply as returning graduate students (see below).
- Individuals with prior graduate enrollment who have: (i) completed more than one academic year in any graduate degree-granting program, (ii) earned a previous master's degree of any kind (including Bachelor's-Master's degree), or (iii) earned a professional degree must meet the following requirements:
- not enrolled in a graduate degree program at application deadline
two or more consecutive years past graduate degree enrollment or completion at the application deadline
- Not be a current NSF employee
There are also limitations on the number of times an individual may apply. For more information on the eligibility requirements and these limitations, see pages 2–3 of the Program Solicitation.
Eligible Fields of Study
The NSF GRFP has 11 Major Fields of Studies: 1) Chemistry; 2) Computer and Information Sciences & Engineering; 3) Engineering; 4) Geosciences; 5) Life Sciences; 6) Materials Research; 7) Mathematical Sciences; 8) Physics & Astronomy; 9) Psychology; 10) Social Sciences; and 11) STEM Education and Learning Research. Within each Major Field of Study, there are several subfield categories. For more information on subfield categories, check the NSF GRFP Solicitation- Appendix.
Some degree programs, areas of study, and research that may fall under eligible fields of study may still be ineligible. Check the NSF-GRFP Solicitation - Field of Study, Degree Programs, and Proposed Research for more details on eligible and ineligible fields.
- Personal Information
- Education, Work and Other Experience and Transcripts
- Proposed Field of Study
- The selection of a Major Field of Study determines the application deadline, the expertise of your application reviewers, and the degree program in which you must enroll if offered a Fellowship.
- Proposed Graduate Study and Graduate School Information
- Must be an accredited institution in the US, its territories, possessions, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
- Applicants are required to provide the name and contact information for three (3) reference writers. Can suggest up to five (5) potential reference writers.
- Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement
- The Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement must address NSF’s merit review criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. The page limit is three (3) pages including all references, citations, charts, figures, images, and lists of publications and presentations.
- Graduate Research Plan Statement
- The Graduate Research Plan Statement must also address NSF’s merit review criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. The page limit is two (2) pages, including all references, citations, charts, figures, images, and lists of publications and presentations.
Both statements must adhere to the formatting guidelines described in this link here.
For more details on the application process, check this NSF application screenshot!