GRFP Essay Insights: Application Resources for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
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Advice from GRFP Panel Reviewers

Note: This page contains quotes from previous years' GRFP panel reviewers. Like any other GRFP advice you may find on the Internet, read critically, consult your mentor(s), and only use suggestions that make sense to you based on this year's instructions.

Are Reviewers Allowed to Offer Advice?

NSF GRFP reviewers are not allowed to disclose their panel assignment or details about the review process. However, panel members are allowed to tell applicants, in general terms, what reviewers seek in a competitive application packet. Keep in mind that panel perceptions may vary by field of study. In other words, GRFP reviewers from the life sciences may differ from those in engineering or the social sciences. That said, based on my experience, and what others have said to me, I believe that panelists across disciplines share similar impressions about "what it takes" to have a highly competitive GRFP application.

General GRFP Statement Advice

Previous Research Experiences:

Research Topic:

Broader Impacts:

Tip for finding GRFP essay advice: Contact an experienced GRFP Resource Person ( to learn more about the program.

Thanks to all of the former GRFP panelists who shared their impressions with me.

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Advice from Fellows

An important reason to apply is that a significant part of the application is about assessing your confidence in yourself. Even if you don't receive the fellowship, applying can boost your confidence that you have the tools and ability to plan and propose research, which is essential to succeed in graduate school.

John Smeda

'11 Fellow, Plant Sci

Cornell University


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Updated July 25, 2016 | Site content and handouts created by Robin G. Walker, PhD
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