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

Statement Purpose

This statement introduces you to the reviewers. In a compelling fashion, you will share your motivation and readiness to pursue advanced studies; steps you have taken to gain professional knowledge and skills; your experience working independently and on teams; and your career goals. Reviewers will be seeking strong evidence of your past intellectual merit and broader impacts.

Important: Before you begin writing

Precisely follow the instructions for this statement, found in the online application form in Fastlane GRFP Remember: This statement is limited to three pages.

Your Writing Process

To begin writing, create an outline to organize your thoughts. (My next page has additional tips.) Next, select experiences that best illustrate your knowledge, skills and abilities. When ready, begin writing freely (you can edit later.) Now review your work. You may need to rearrange the order of your paragraphs for better flow. Add transition language to connect the paragraphs. Edit for clarity and length. When you have completed a first draft, ask family members and friends for feedback. Revise. Set aside your draft for a day or two and reflect on your writing. Fine tune. Ask your mentor(s) and a GRFP Resource Person to read your polished statement. Faculty members are extremely busy, so allow at least a week turn around time. Based on the feedback, revise your essay again. Consult a campus writing tutor for help with grammar or mechanics.

Highlight Your Publications, Presentations and Posters!

First, make sure to list your all of your publications/presentations/posters in the Education and Work Experience section under "Other Experience." List scholarly work first, then add public outreach (lay audience) presentations. Second, summarize your productivity in your narrative. For example, after explaining an independent research project, add "As a result of this undergraduate research experience, I coauthored a refereed journal article and presented an outreach poster for state legislators. See citations listed in the 'Other Experience' section."

Check your Intellectual Merit examples:
Questions a reviewer might pose about this essay

Check your Broader Impact examples:
Questions a reviewer might pose
about this essay

Writer's Block?

See writing prompts for this statement on the Writing Resources page.

Social network discussions
Advice from Fellows

NSF GRFP funds translate to increased creative potential and hence potential for success and happiness.

Roberto Miguez

'09 Fellow, Engineering

University of Michigan


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Updated July 26 2016 | Site content and handouts created by Robin G. Walker, PhD
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