NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)


The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Fellows share in the prestige and opportunities that become available when they are selected. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $37,000 along with a $16,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research.


GRFP supports individuals proposing a comprehensive holistic plan for graduate education that takes into account individual interests and competencies. A holistic plan describes the experiences, attributes, and academic achievements that, when considered in combination, show how the applicant has demonstrated potential for significant research achievements in STEM or in STEM education. Thus, an applicant must provide a detailed profile of her or his relevant educational and research experiences and plans for graduate education in such a way as to demonstrate this potential for significant achievements.

All GRFP applications are evaluated using NSF’s two merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. In order to present a competitive application, you must address both merit review criteria thoroughly. See here for details.

  • Intellectual Merit: the potential of the applicant to advance knowledge based on a holistic analysis of the complete application, including the Personal, Relevant Background, and Future Goals Statement, Graduate Research Plan Statement, strength of the academic record, description of previous research experience or publication/presentations, and references.
  • Broader Impacts: the potential of the applicant for future broader impacts as indicated by personal experiences, professional experiences, educational experiences and future plans.


  • undergraduate seniors or alumni, before beginning graduate training;
  • students in the final year of a joint baccalaureate-master’s (BS/MS) program;
  • students who have completed a joint baccalaureate-master’s (BS/MS) program and have not completed any further graduate study outside the joint program unless the graduate coursework was required to establish or maintain credentials in a profession such as teaching;
  • graduate students who have had an interruption in graduate study of at least two consecutive years prior to November 1 of the year the application is submitted and have completed no additional graduate study as of August 1 of the year the application is submitted.;
  • Effective as of the 2017 competition, NSF limits graduate students to only one application to the GRFP, submitted either in the first year or in the second year of graduate school.


Visit this excellent resource for tips on building a strong application (listed as a trusted resource by NSF GRFP).

  • The application includes a personal statement and resume items, a proposed graduate research plan, and 3-5 letters of recommendation from faculty in their proposed field of study and/or research supervisors.
  • Most application deadlines fall in October but vary by field of study.  Please see this NSF page for specific dates.
  • Applicants apply directly through www.fastlane.nsf.gov
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to work closely advisers, mentors, supervisors and faculty in their own departments in the completion of the application.

Overview of the NSF GRFP Timeline

  • Late July/Early August – Program Solicitation Released
  • Early August – FastLane Application Opened
  • Late October/Early November – Application Deadlines (determined by discipline)
  • Early April – Awards Announced
  • Early May – Fellows Acceptance Deadline