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 $12,000 annual 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). Fellows may request access to cyberinfrastructure resources, including supercomputing time, through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). Supplemental funding for researchers with disabilities and a leave provision for dependent care issues are also offered.

Eligibility requirements*

Citizenship: Must be a United States citizen, US national, or a permanent US resident by the application deadline. Refer to the GRFP solicitation.

  1. Degree requirement: Individuals are typically eligible to apply...
    • as an undergraduate senior or post-baccalaureate, before beginning graduate training;
    •  in the final year of a joint baccalaureate-master's (BS/MS) program;
    •  having 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; 
    • after having 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.;
    • 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/learn more
    • Exception for the 2017 competition 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/learn more
  2. Broad Fields of study (disciplines): Life Sciences, Geosciences; Computer and Information Science and Engineering;  Engineering; Materials Research; Psychology, Social Sciences, STEM Education and Learning; Chemistry; Mathematical Sciences; Physics and Astronomy.. Interdisciplinary research is also possible. Not eligible: professional practice degrees View sub-disciplines in the current GRFP solicitation.

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

Award cycle

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

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

If it wasn't for the NSF GRFP, I would not be able to work with either of my current advisors (one at Georgia Tech and the other at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory) because at the time, they did not have the funding to take on another student.

Rene Diaz

'11 Fellow, Engineering

Georgia Tech


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Updated July 21, 2016 | Site content and handouts created by Robin G. Walker, PhD
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