GRFP Essay Insights: Application Resources for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
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GRFP Overview

The basics

student in lab coat

The GRFP is a prestigious, nationally competitive fellowship offered by the National Science Foundation. It provides three years of financial support for beginning graduate study leading to a research-based master's or doctoral degree in the STEM disciplines.

Financial support

The fellowship includes a $34,000-per-year stipend for three years. Additionally, each Fellow receives a tuition waiver via a cost-of-education allowance that is awarded to the graduate institution. After one year of graduate study, Fellows become eligible to apply for international research funding support through Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) and Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP). Access to supercomputing resources, supplemental funding for researchers with disabilities, and a provision for family medical leave are also offered.

Eligibility requirements*

*Always refer to the current NSF-GRFP Solicitation for official eligibility information.

  1. Citizenship: Must be a United States citizen, US national, or a permanent US resident by the application deadline. Refer to the GRFP solicitation.
  2. Degree requirement: Individuals are typically eligible to apply...
    • during the senior year of college and on track to earn a bachelor's degree prior to fall of 2017;
    • in a four-year joint BS/MS program, applicants may apply in the fourth year or after completion of the program;
    • in a five-year joint BS/MS program, applicants may apply in the fourth or fifth year of the program or after completion of the program;
    • NEW: Effective as of the 2017 competition (Fall 2016 deadlines), NSF will limit graduate students to only one application to the GRFP, submitted either in the first year or in the second year of graduate school. Source or Learn more
    • For the 2017 compeition only: First-year graduate students in Fall 2015 who applied to the 2016 GRFP competition will be allowed to apply a second time in Fall 2016, if they are otherwise eligible. Source or Learn more

    Note: Mizzou will continue to monitor NSF announcements for other changes or clarifications relative to the GRFP program.

  3. Field of study (disciplines): Biological sciences, computer science/engineering, chemistry, engineering, geosciences, information science, social sciences, life sciences, mathematical science, materials science, psychology, physics and astronomy, or STEM education and learning. Interdisciplinary research is also possible. Not eligible: professional practice degrees - see details in the GRFP solicitation.

Award cycle

The GRFP competition normally opens in August with deadlines in late October. Awards are announced the following spring. Fellows must commence graduate study in the summer or fall after accepting the award. About 2,000 fellowships will be offered, pending availability of funds.

Special Note

Whereas the National Science Foundation awards grants to investigators to fund their research, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program funds students who are training to become well-rounded researchers. It's a fine distinction, but an important one.

Social network discussions
Advice from Fellows

…once you finish the NSF GRFP application, your graduate apps will be a snap.

Adam Daily

'12 Fellow, Biomedical Engineering

University of Texas at Austin


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Updated March 08, 2016 | Site content and handouts created by Robin G. Walker, PhD
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