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NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Division of Graduate Education Education and Human Resources Directorate Information for Applicants July 2012. GRFP Overview. Read the GRFP Solicitation This is the official guide to the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

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nsf graduate research fellowship program

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Division of Graduate Education

Education and Human Resources Directorate

Information for Applicants

July 2012

grfp overview
GRFP Overview
  • Read the GRFP Solicitation
    • This is the official guide to the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
    • Visit the NSF GRFP Website (nsf.gov/grfp)
    • Visit the GRFP Operations Center Website (nsfgrfp.org)

General GRFP Timeline

July Nov. Jan. April

  • Application
  • Submission
  • Reference
  • Writer’s
  • Submission



  • Work on essays
  • Contact references
grfp solicitation
GRFP Solicitation
  • Contains the following information:
    • Program Description
    • Award Information
    • Eligibility requirements
    • Application preparation and submission instructions
    • Application Review Information Criteria
    • Award Administration Information
  • Applicants must exercise judgment in assessing their eligibility
  • Applicants must self-certify that they are eligible to receive the Fellowship
ineligible to apply
Ineligible to apply:
  • Those who do not hold US citizenship, national, or permanent resident status by the application deadline (November 2012)
  • Those who were previously awarded a fellowship from the NSF GRFP and accepted it
  • Those who have declined the offer of the NSF GRF and who did not notify NSF by the published deadline (May 1st) for accepting the Fellowship
  • Those who have earned any graduate or professional degree (by August 1 2012)
    • Exception: applicants who have completed a joint BS/MS program and have not completed any further graduate study outside the joint program
  • Current NSF employees
ineligible programs fields of study
Ineligible Programs & Fields of Study
  • Practice-oriented professional degree programs, joint professional degree-science programs (MD/PhD and JD/PhD), or medical, dental, law, and public health programs are not eligible. Examples of typical ineligible degree programs include MBA, MPH, MSW, and ED
  • Counseling
  • Business administration or management
  • Social work
  • Education (except in science and engineering education in an NSF-supported discipline)
  • History (except in history of science)
ineligible areas of graduate study
Ineligible areas of graduate study
  • Clinical study
    • patient-oriented research
    • epidemiological and behavioral studies
    • outcomes research
    • health services research

Clinical study example:

    • investigations to provide evidence leading to a scientific basis for consideration of a change in health policy or standard of care
    • pharmacologic, non-pharmacologic, and behavioral interventions for disease prevention, prophylaxis, diagnosis, or therapy
    • community- and other population-based intervention trials
  • Research with disease-related goals: work on the etiology, diagnosis or treatment of physical or mental disease, abnormality, or malfunction in human beings
  • Animal models of such conditions or the development or testing of drugs or other procedures for their treatment
  • Exception- research in bioengineering, with diagnosis- or treatment-related goals, that applies engineering principles to problems in biology and medicine while advancing engineering knowledge is eligible for support. Bioengineering research to aid persons with disabilities also is eligible
nsf supported fields of study are eligible science technology engineering mathematics stem
NSF supported Fields of Study are eligible(Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics-STEM)
  • Chemistry
  • Computer & Information Science/Engineering
  • Engineering
  • Geosciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Materials Research
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • STEM Education and Learning Research
materials research new in 2012
Materials Research (new in 2012)
  • Biomaterials
  • Ceramics
  • Chemistry of materials
  • Electronic materials
  • Materials theory
  • Metallic materials
  • Photonic materials
  • Physics of materials
  • Polymers
  • Materials Research, other (specify)
examples of selected field of study and sub field of study
Examples of selected Field of Study and sub-Field of Study
  • These may not be typically thought of as STEM fields by applicants
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • STEM Education/Learning Research
  • Cognitive
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Computational Psychology
  • Developmental
  • Experimental or Comparative
  • Industrial/Organizational
  • Neuropsychology
  • Perception and Psychophysics
  • Personality and Individual Differences
  • Physiological
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Quantitative
  • Social
  • Psychology, other (specify)
social sciences
Social Sciences
  • Archaeology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Anthropology, other
  • Communications
  • Decision Making and Risk analysis
  • Economics (except Business Administration)
  • Geography
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • International Relations
  • Law and Social Science
  • Linguistics
  • Linguistic Anthropology
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Political Science
  • Public Policy
  • Science Policy
  • Sociology (except Social Work)
  • Urban and Regional Planning
  • Social Sciences, other (specify)
stem education learning research
STEM Education/Learning Research
  • Engineering Education
  • Mathematics Education
  • Science Education
  • Technology Education
  • STEM Education and Learning Research, other (specify)
academic preparation
Academic preparation
  • Applicants are expected to have adequate preparation to begin graduate study and research by Summer or Fall 2013
  • Preparation is nearly always demonstrated by receipt of a bachelor's degree in a science or engineering field earned prior to Fall 2013
when can you apply
When can you apply?
  • During the senior year of college (Level 1)
  • After graduating from college and prior to entering graduate school (Level 1)
  • During the first year of graduate school (Level 2)
  • Prior to completing the Fall term of the second year of graduate school (Level 3)
      • Must have completed no more than 12 months of full-time graduate study or its equivalent as of August 1, 2012. There is no credit hour limit for students who have completed only full-time graduate study; eligibility for full-time students is based on the length of time enrolled in the graduate program.
      • Students with part-time graduate study, or a combination of part-time and full-time graduate study, must have completed no more than 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours or their equivalent as of August 1, 2012.
interrupted study
Interrupted Study
  • Extenuating Circumstance- Level 4
    • Applicants who have completed more than 12 months of graduate study and who have not earned a graduate degree may be considered eligible if they have had an interruption in graduate study of at least two consecutive years prior to November 2012. To be eligible, applicants must have completed no additional graduate study by August 1, 2012.
    • A separate statement is needed to explain the reason for the interruption of studies of more than 2 years (Extenuating circumstance essay)
  • Three Essays
      • Personal (up to 2 pages)
      • Research experience (up to 2 pages)
      • Research proposal (up to 2 pages)
  • All three essays are reviewed in accordance with the NSF Merit Review Criteria

Collectively they should satisfy the two criteria:

    • Intellectual Merit
    • Broader Impacts
intellectual merit
Intellectual Merit
  • How important is proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?
  • How well qualified is the proposer to conduct the project?
  • To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  • How well conceived and organized are proposed activities?
  • Is there sufficient access to resources?
  • If international activities are proposed, are they relevant and do they benefit applicant?
broader impacts
Broader Impacts
  • How well does activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training and learning?
  • How well does the proposed activity broaden participation of underrepresented groups?
  • To what extent will it enhance infrastructure for research and education?
  • Will results be disseminated broadly?
  • What may be the benefits of proposed activity to society?

Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact

Personal essay Research experience essay Research Plan essay

  • The three essays should not repeat the same information
  • The essays should collectively demonstrate the intellectual merit and potential for broader impact
personal essay
Personal Essay
  • Describe the experiences that contributed to your preparation and desire to pursue advanced study in STEM
  • Describe your leadership potential, and how you see yourself currently or in the in future contributing to research, education, and innovation in science and engineering
  • Describe the career aspirations and goals you hope to achieve
personal essay1
Personal Essay
  • NSF Fellows are expected to become globally engaged knowledge experts and leaders who can contribute significantly to research, education, and innovations in science and engineering
  • The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate your potential to satisfy this requirement
  • Your ideas and examples do not have to be confined to the discipline that you have chosen to pursue
research experience essay
Research Experience Essay
  • Describe any scientific research activities in which you have participated:
    • Undergraduate research programs
    • Research experience gained through summer or part-time employment
    • Work-study programs
    • Other research activities, either academic or job-related
research experience essay1
Research Experience Essay
  • Explain the purpose (aims) of the research and your specific role in the research, including the extent to which you worked independently and/or as part of a team, and what you learned from your research experience
  • Describe how you disseminated your results (i.e. conference, symposium, publication)
research experience essay2
Research Experience Essay
  • If you have no direct research experience, describe any activities that you believe have prepared you to undertake research
proposed research essay
Proposed Research Essay
  • Present a complete plan for a research project that you plan to pursue during the Fellowship period
  • Your statement should demonstrate your understanding of research design and methodology and explain the relationship to your previous research, if any
research essay
Research Essay
  • Format:
    • Introduction and problem statement
    • Hypothesis
    • Methods to test hypothesis
    • Anticipated results or findings
    • Expected significance and broader impacts
    • Short list of important literature citations.
  • Your proposed plan must be in fields within NSF’s mission (i.e. Field of Study)
  • Your proposed research will be reviewed to assess your potential for graduate research
reference writers
Reference writers
  • Select your reference writers carefully, as they will provide important information about your character, and potential as a leader, researcher, and educator
  • You may request up to 5 references
  • Your selected reference writers will submit their own reference.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure three letters of references are submitted by the published deadline in order for your application to be complete and reviewed
application review process
Application Review Process

Applications are reviewed by panels of disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientists and engineers and other professional graduate education experts

Applications are assigned to panels based on the applicant's chosen Field(s) of Study and the discipline(s) represented

Applicants are advised to select the Field of Study that is most closely aligned with the proposed graduate program of study and research plan


NSF GRF Solicitation and links:


GRFP Website: www.nsfgrfp.org

Online Application, User Guides, Official Announcements: http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/

866-NSF-GRFP (673-4737) info@nsfgrfp.org