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Directorate for Education and Human Resources
Division of Undergraduate Education

The Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) serves as the focal point for NSF’s efforts in undergraduate education. DUE's mission is to promote excellence in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for all students, including STEM majors, prospective teachers of grades preK through 12 (preK-12), students preparing for the technical workplace, and students in their role as citizens.

The Division accomplishes its mission by doing the following:

  • Providing leadership to (1) promote cutting-edge efforts, risk-taking, and continuous innovation in the development of new practices and ideas; (2) shape national priorities to further educational innovation and research; and (3) direct efforts to increase the diversity of STEM communities.
  • Supporting curriculum development that stimulates research on learning; leads to exemplary materials and strategies for education; incorporates model assessment programs and practices; effects broad dissemination of effective pedagogy and materials; and enables long-term sustainability of effective activities.
  • Preparing the workforce by promoting technological, quantitative, and scientific literacy; supporting an increase in diversity, size, and quality of the next generation of STEM professionals who enter the workforce with 2- or 4-year degrees or who continue their studies in graduate and professional schools; investing in the Nation's future K-12 teacher workforce; and funding research to evaluate and improve workforce initiatives.
  • Fostering connections by facilitating communication across disciplinary boundaries, across all educational levels (from K-12 through graduate school), and between academia, industry, and professional societies; encouraging faculty to combine teaching and discipline-based research; and collaborating with research communities and with NSF research directorates.

1. Advanced Technological Education (ATE)

The ATE Program is managed jointly by DUE and the Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education. The program promotes improvement in the education of technicians in science- and engineering-related fields at the undergraduate and secondary school levels. It particularly targets 2-year colleges and encourages collaboration among 2-year colleges, 4-year colleges, universities, secondary schools, business, industry, and government. Proposals are solicited in the following three tracks:

  • Projects—Activities may include the adaptation of exemplary educational materials, courses, and curriculums in new educational settings; the preparation and professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; development of educational materials, courses, curriculums, and laboratories; internships and field experiences for students and educators; the evaluation and broad dissemination of exemplary educational materials, curricula, and pedagogical practices designed by previously funded ATE centers and projects, and research on effective practices in technician education.
  • Centers—Centers are comprehensive national or regional resources that provide models and leadership for other projects and act as clearinghouses for educational materials and methods. National Centers of Excellence engage in the full range of activities described above for projects. Regional centers for manufacturing or information technology education pursue comprehensive approaches that focus on reforming academic programs, departments, and systems to produce a highly qualified workforce to meet industry's needs within a particular geographic region. Resources Centers constitute a highly visible source of materials, ideas, contacts, and mentoring in a particular field of technological education.
  • Articulation Partnerships—Focus on enhancing either of two important educational pathways for students between 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges and universities. One type of Articulation Partnership focuses on strengthening the science, technology, and mathematics preparation of prospective K–12 teachers who are enrolled in preprofessional programs at 2-year colleges. The other type of partnership targets 2-year college programs for students to continue their education in 4-year science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs, especially programs that have a strong technological basis.

Proposals in all three tracks must show evidence of a coherent vision of technological education—a vision that recognizes the needs of the modern workplace, the needs of students as lifelong learners, and the need for articulation of educational programs at different levels. Whenever feasible, projects are expected to utilize and innovatively build from successful educational materials, courses, curriculums, and methods that have been developed through other ATE grants, as well as other exemplary resources that can be adapted to technological education.

2. Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Scholarships (CSEMS)

The CSEMS Program provides institutions with funds to support scholarships for talented but financially disadvantaged students in computer science, computer technology, engineering, engineering technology, or mathematics degree programs. Through support from this program, grantee institutions establish scholarships that promote full-time enrollment and completion of degrees in higher education in the above fields. NSF established the program in accordance with the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-277). The Act reflects the Nation’s need to increase substantially the number of graduates from associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degree programs in these fields. The goals of this program are to:

  • improve education for students in the stated disciplines;
  • increase retention of students to degree completion;
  • improve professional development, employment, and further higher education placement of participating students; and
  • strengthen partnerships between institutions of higher education and related employment sectors.

The eligibility criteria for a CSEMS scholarship recipient include the following:

  • status as a U.S. citizen, national, refugee alien, or permanent resident alien at the time of application;
  • full-time enrollment in a computer science, computer technology, engineering, engineering technology, or mathematics degree program at the associate, baccalaureate, or graduate level;
  • demonstration of academic potential or ability; and
  • demonstration of financial need, defined for undergraduates as financial eligibility under U.S. Department of Education rules for federal financial aid, and defined for graduate students as eligibility for Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need.

CSEMS proposers must be institutions of higher education that grant degrees in computer science, computer technology, engineering, engineering technology, or mathematics.

3. Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI)

The CCLI Program seeks to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for all students, based on research concerning the needs and opportunities that exist and effective ways to address them. It targets activities affecting learning environments, course content, curriculums, and educational practices, with the aim of contributing to the relevant research base. The program invites proposals to improve undergraduate STEM education in a broad spectrum of institutions, including 2-year colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities. Projects may involve a single institution, a collaborative effort among several institutions, or a collaboration with business and industry partners. The program has four tracks:

  • Educational Materials Development (CCLI-EMD) projects are expected to produce innovative materials that incorporate effective educational practices to improve student learning of STEM. Projects to develop textbooks, software, or laboratory materials for commercial distribution are appropriate. Two types of EMD projects will be supported: (1) those that intend to demonstrate the scientific and educational feasibility of an idea—a "proof of concept" or prototype and (2) those that are based on prior experience with a prototype that intend to fully develop and test the product or practice. Such materials are expected to be disseminated nationally for adoption and adaptation.
  • National Dissemination (CCLI-ND) projects are expected to provide faculty with professional development opportunities to enable them to introduce new content into undergraduate courses and laboratories and to explore effective educational practices to improve the effectiveness of their teaching. Projects should be designed to offer workshops, short courses, or similar activities on a national scale in single or multiple disciplines.
  • Adaptation and Implementation (CCLI-A&I) projects are expected to result in improved education in STEM at academic institutions through adaptation and implementation of exemplary materials, laboratory experiences, and/or educational practices that have been developed and tested at other institutions. Proposals may request funds in any budget category supported by NSF or may request funds to purchase only instrumentation.
  • Assessment of Student Achievement (CCLI-ASA) projects are expected to develop and disseminate assessment practices, materials (tools), and measures to guide efforts that improve the effectiveness of courses, curriculums, programs of study, and academic institutions in promoting student learning in STEM. This program track also promotes the full integration of assessment with these educational efforts. Three types of ASA projects will be supported: (1) New Development—developing new assessment materials (tools) and practices for use in single or multiple undergraduate disciplines; (2) Adaptation—adapting assessment materials and practices that have proven effective for one setting or audience for use in a new setting, or with a different audience; and (3) Dissemination—spreading the use of effective assessment practices through workshops or web-based materials that are thoroughly documented with detailed instructions.

4. Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service (SFS)

The SFS Program seeks to increase the number of qualified students entering the fields of information assurance and computer security and increase the capacity of higher education enterprise in the United States in order to continue producing professionals in these fields. The program consists of the following tracks:

  • Scholarship Track provides funding to colleges and universities to award scholarships in information assurance and computer security fields. Scholarship recipients will become part of the Federal Cyber Service of information technology specialists who ensure the protection of the U.S. Government's information infrastructure. After their 2-year scholarships, the recipients will be required to work for a federal agency for 2 years as their Federal Cyber Service commitment.
  • Capacity Building Track seeks to increase the national capacity for producing trained information assurance professionals by providing support to colleges and universities interested in building programs, individually or in partnership.

5. NSF Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars (DTS)

The purpose of the DTS Program is to recognize and reward individuals who have contributed significantly to the scholarship of their discipline and to the education of students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and who exemplify the ability to engage productively in both research and education. DTS is part of NSF’s efforts to foster an academic culture that values a scholarly approach to both research and education. The Director’s Award is the highest honor bestowed by the NSF for excellence in both teaching and research in STEM fields, or in educational research related to these disciplines.

6. National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL)

The goal of the NSDL Program is to support the creation and development of a national digital library for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The resulting virtual facility--learning environments and resources network for STEM education--is intended to meet the needs of students and teachers at all levels, including K–12, undergraduate, graduate, and lifelong learning, in both individual and collaborative settings. The NSDL Program builds on work supported under the multiagency Digital Libraries Initiative (see and represents a synergistic collaboration of research and education efforts.

The NSDL Program is currently supporting a Core Integration effort that coordinates and manages the digital library’s holdings and services. To complement and further expand this Core Integration capacity, the NSDL Program accepts proposals in the following tracks:

  • Collections projects are expected to aggregate and manage a subset of the library's content within a coherent theme or specialty.
  • Services projects are expected to develop services that will support users, collection providers, and the Core Integration effort, as well as enhance the impact, efficiency, and value of the library.
  • Targeted Research projects are expected to explore specific topics that have immediate applicability to one of the other two tracks, or the Core Integration effort discussed above.

7. Robert Noyce Scholarship Program

The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program seeks to increase the number of K-12 teachers with strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content knowledge by encouraging talented STEM undergraduates and STEM professionals to pursue teaching careers in elementary and secondary schools. The program provides funding to institutions of higher education to provide scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support for STEM majors and STEM professionals to enter and complete teacher credentialing programs. Scholarship recipients are required to complete two years of teaching in a high need school district for each year of scholarship or stipend support.

8. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP)

STEP seeks to increase the number of students (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) pursuing and receiving associate or baccalaureate degrees in established or emerging fields within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The program is open to institutions of higher education in the United States and its territories and to consortia of such institutions, offering either associate degrees or baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields. Type 1 proposals are solicited that provide for full implementation efforts at academic institutions. Type 2 proposals are solicited that provide for educational research projects on associate or baccalaureate degree attainment in STEM.

9. Teacher Professional Continuum (TPC)

The TPC Program is managed jointly by ESIE and the Division of Undergraduate Education. TPC addresses the full continuum of teacher education (grades K–12) from recruitment and preparation through enhancement, retention, and lifelong learning of SMT teachers. TPC supports four categories of projects: (1) Research Studies—identify effective strategies for educating teachers, develop supportive structures and environments that sustain SMT educators, and impact teaching practice through teacher learning; (2) Research and Development of Educational Models and Systems—evaluate overall effectiveness of models and systems to be studied, as well as how relationships among various components influence effectiveness; (3) Professional Resources Development that are grounded in recent advances in research on teaching and learning; and (4) Conferences and Symposia—focus on planning and dissemination of research findings, issues, innovations, and action plans.

TPC Program goals are to:

  • improve the quality and coherence of the learning experiences that prepare and enhance SMT teachers;
  • develop innovative curricula, materials, tools, ideas, and information resources for the professional development of SMT teachers and administrators;
  • research, develop, and identify models, organizational structures, and systems that support the teacher professional continuum;
  • use scientifically-based studies to research teacher learning throughout the teacher professional continuum and its impact on teaching practice;
  • advance the knowledge base on the preparation, enhancement, and retention of SMT teachers, and on the strategies that strengthen and diversify the SMT teaching profession; and
  • disseminate this knowledge and research--as well as innovative models and resources--to a national audience.

Eligibility Requirements for TPC

The TPC Program has special eligibility requirements beyond the standard NSF requirements. For more information, see program solicitation NSF 03-534.

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