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National Science Foundation

About the GRFP

The NSF GRFP helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

Currently, about 12,000 students apply annually for Graduate Research Fellowships; 2,000 receive awards, which they take to U.S. graduate institutions of their choice. Since 1952, NSF has selected more than 46,500 students to receive graduate research fellowships, out of more than 500,000 applicants. Forty of the GRFs have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 440 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences. GRFP has a high rate of doctorate completion, with more than 70 percent of students completing their degrees within 11 years.

Learn more about the NSF GRFP program here.


GRF Profiles

The GRFP has a long history of investing in students with demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. The investments have paid off well: Among more than 200 Nobel laureates who have had NSF support, 40 were selected as Graduate Research Fellows. GRFs are also well-represented among government leaders, business executives, writers, and members of the National Academy of Sciences--from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, to Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt.

As part of the GRFP 60th anniversary celebration, special profiles of 60 Graduate Research Fellows were published. You can find them at http://www.nsfgrfp.org/general_resources/60th_anniversary, along with other 60th anniversary information.


History of the GRFP

The NSF GRFP is the country's oldest fellowship program directly supporting graduate students in STEM fields. In March 1951, President Harry S. Truman appointed Alan T. Waterman, the chief scientist at the Office of Naval Research, to be the first director of the NSF. Waterman defined the foundation's policy role as "one of advocating a research support program, improving government-university relations, and compiling reliable information on scientific research and manpower." Very early on, the foundation created the Division of Graduate Education to be responsible for fellowships and scholarships for graduate students and postdoctoral scientists. The GRFP was established to encourage the best basic research and ensure a comprehensive research program.

Coming soon: GRFP Timeline with more about the program's history.

See also "The National Science Foundation Class of 1952" to read about some of the first fellows.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.