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This document has been archived. For current NSF funding opportunities, see

Directorate for Education and Human Resources
Division of Graduate Education

NSF provides support to individual graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and institutions to improve graduate and postdoctoral education and to promote strength, diversity, and vitality in the science and engineering workforce. The Division of Graduate Education (DGE) provides the Foundation’s focus to promote strong and innovative graduate education that will develop the Nation’s future leadership in all the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields supported by NSF.

1. Graduate Research Fellowships (GRF)

GRFs promote the strength and diversity of the Nation’s science and engineering base and offer recognition and 3 years of support for advanced study to approximately 900 outstanding graduate students annually in all fields of science, mathematics, and engineering supported by NSF. To be eligible for this nationwide merit competition, an individual must be a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States and be at or near the beginning of graduate study.

2. Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K–12 Education (GK–12)

In order to strengthen K–12 science and mathematics education, provide pedagogical training and experience for graduate students, and enhance links between K–12 and higher education levels, NSF initiated the GK–12 Program in 1999. GK–12 projects support graduate and advanced undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) students as content resources for K–12 teachers. These fellows assist teachers in the science and mathematics content of their teaching; demonstrate key science and mathematics concepts; and gain the pedagogical skills necessary at all education levels. The program links the acknowledged excellence of U.S. graduate education with the excitement and critical needs of K–12 learning and teaching, and promotes interest in teaching and learning practices among graduate-level institutions.

Only academic institutions that grant master’s or doctoral degrees in STEM fields may submit proposals. GK–12 fellows are selected by awardee institutions and must be (1) citizens, nationals, or permanent residents of the United States and (2) graduate students enrolled in STEM programs or advanced undergraduate STEM majors who have demonstrated a strong proficiency in mathematics and science.

3. Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships (IGERT)

NSF places high priority on the preparation of Ph.D.s who are equipped with the multidisciplinary background and the technical, professional, and personal skills essential to address the career demands of the future. To meet these needs, NSF created IGERT, an agency-wide graduate education program. Unlike graduate fellowships, for which individuals apply, IGERT considers only proposals from institutions that offer doctoral degrees.

The primary goal of the IGERT Program is to enable the development of innovative graduate education activities that are research-based and that will produce scientists and engineers who are well prepared for a broad spectrum of career opportunities. IGERT integrates research and education with emphasis on experimentation to yield a variety of new models for a paradigm shift in graduate education. Projects supported should incorporate the following features:

  • a comprehensive, doctorate-level multidisciplinary research theme that serves as the foundation for graduate education activities;
  • activities that integrate the multidisciplinary research theme with innovative educational opportunities, including training in the responsible conduct of research and interactions between students and faculty;
  • an educational environment that exposes students to state-of-the-art research instrumentation and methodologies;
  • an institutional strategy and operational plan for student recruitment, with special consideration for efforts aimed at members of groups underrepresented in science and engineering, to ensure preparation of a diverse science and engineering workforce; and
  • a well-defined strategy for assessment of project performance.

4. NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowships in Science and Engineering (Including Special Fellowship Opportunities for Scientists from NATO Partner Countries)

At the request of the U.S. Department of State, NSF administers a program of NATO postdoctoral fellowships to promote closer collaboration among scientists and engineers of member and NATO partner countries. Approximately 25 awards are made each year to U.S. institutions on behalf of scientists and engineers from NATO partner countries to enable them to conduct research at institutions in the United States.

Eligibility Requirements for NSF-NATO Fellowships

Scientists and engineers from NATO partner countries who are within 5 years of their doctoral degree are eligible to be nominated by a scientific advisor at a U.S. institution.

5. Travel Grants for NATO Advanced Study Institutes (ASI)

NSF awards travel grants of $1,000 each to enable U.S. science and engineering graduate students and junior postdoctorates to attend NATO Advanced Study Institutes held in NATO member or partner countries of Europe. These 2- to 3-week instructional courses, which are conducted by noted scientists and engineers, are scheduled throughout the year, although the majority of them are held during the summer.

Eligibility Requirements for NATO Advanced Study Institutes

The director of a NATO Advanced Study Institute may nominate a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident who is a graduate student or who has received a Ph.D. within the past 3 years and has been accepted at a NATO institute.

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