GRFP Essay Insights: Application Resources for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
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Personal, Relevant Background & Goals:
A Sample Outline for this Statement

Basic Outline

Part I. Introduction
Part II. Body

- A. Educational and professional development plans and career goals

- B. Personal, professional and educational experiences

- C. Previous research and professional activities

Part III. Intellectual Merit*
Part IV. Broader Impacts*
Part V. Conclusion

Suggestions for Completing Outline

Introduction: In 3-5 sentences, make an interesting point about your unique background, your goals, or your vision for benefiting society. These first few sentences must quickly convince the reviewers that you are intelligent, innovative and articulate. Your writing must be original, sincere and engaging. Avoid clichés and the mundane. Your aim is to so intrigue the reviewers that they will want to read the rest of your statement carefully.


A." Outline your educational and professional development plans and your career goals." source

To conclude Part IIA, make this connection for reviewers: How will graduate school prepare you for a career that allows you to expand scientific understanding as well as benefit our society? 

B. "Describe specific personal, professional or educational experiences that motivated you to pursue advanced studies". source

C. " Give specific examples of your previous research and/or professional activities. Present a concise description and highlight the results. Discuss how these activities have prepared you to seek a graduate degree. Specify your role in the activity including the extent to which you worked independently and/or as part of a team." source

Part III. Intellectual Merit (required). "Describe the contributions of your activities to advancing knowledge in STEM fields.".. source

Part IV. Broader Impacts (required). "Describe the contributions of your past activities...[to demonstrate] broader societal impacts." source

Part V. Conclusion: In 3-5 sentences, conclude your statement. For example, reiterate how a graduate degree will help you achieve your career goals; or explain how the GRFP will enable you pursue a particular line of research; or describe how you intend to contribute to your profession as a scientific leader AND address social needs or global challenges. Your last sentences should convince the reviewers that - without a doubt - you are exactly the type of researcher/innovator/educator that will help the NSF achieve its goals.

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Advice from Fellows

Winning the award has given me time to focus heavily on research and to create a good roadmap for my dissertation topic and methods.

Elise Hernandez

'12 Fellow, Developmental Psychology

University of Michigan


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