National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF)

Website: NSF


The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in the U.S.

NSF Fellows are expected to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals will be crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large.

So that the nation can build fully upon the strength and creativity of a diverse society, the Foundation welcomes applications from all qualified individuals and strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to compete fully in this program.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships only funds graduate programs in the United States.  Selected students can no longer defer the grant.  However, students can request a reserve year.  To meet the requirements for being 'on reserve,' the student must be actively engaged as a full-time student at the chosen NSF GRFP institution.


The 2016 GRFP Program Solicitation contains the official eligibility guidelines for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 competitions. All applicants must read the Program Solicitation and understand the eligibility guidelines.

Applicants must self-certify that they are eligible to receive the Fellowship.

To be eligible for the NSF GRFP, you must:

  • be a US citizen, US national, or permanent resident
  • intend to pursue a research-based Master's or Ph.D. program in an NSF-supported field
  • be enrolled in an eligible program at an accredited United States graduate institution, with a US campus, by fall 2019
  • have completed no more than 12 months of graduate study by the application deadline
  • meet all other eligibility requirements as set forth in the current Program Solicitation

The "no more than twelve months" limit applies to your entire education career, not just your current program. If you have completed less than twelve months of your Ph.D. but have previously completed a Master's degree, you would not be eligible for the GRFP, unless you meet the criteria for an extenuating circumstance as described in Section IV of the Program Solicitation.

Note: In the 2016 Program Solicitation, graduate coursework required to establish or maintain credentials in a profession, such as teaching, is not included in the 12-month limit.

The complete set of GRFP eligibility guidelines is published in the Program Solicitation. All applicants should read the program solicitation carefully before applying. The 2016 solicitation contains the official and only eligibility criteria for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 GRFP competitions.

The following categories are always ineligible for the GRFP:

  • Those who do not hold United States citizenship, national, or permanent resident status by the application deadline.
  • Those who were previously awarded a Fellowship from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program and accepted it.
  • Those who did not accept the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and failed to notify NSF by the published deadline for accepting the Fellowship.
  • Those who have completed the requirements for any graduate or professional degree by August 1 of the year the application is submitted, except 1) applicants who have 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; or 2) applicants that have had 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.
  • Current NSF employees.
Student Type
  • senior
  • graduate
Citizen Type
  • Us Citizen
  • Permanent Resident

See for complete application information and details. Applications are submitted online.

Anticipated National Deadline for 2019: throughout the week of October 21, 2019


The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is the country’s oldest graduate fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. The GRFP was established early in the foundation's history, to encourage the best basic research and ensure a comprehensive research program.

Since 1952, NSF has funded 43,000 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants.  More than twenty of them have gone to become Nobel laureates.  In addition, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program has a high rate of doctorate degree completion, with more than 70 percent of students completing their doctorates within 11 years.

Contact Information

Web Sites: - Official program announcement and information, information for awarded fellows, FAQ guides, and information for coordinating officials - Application submission & award announcements - Unofficial program information, applicant assistance & resources, outreach-related issues, panelist registration & information, and applicant ratings sheet review


Email Addresses:

Applicant and General Inquiries: 

Panelist Inquiries:

FastLane Application Module Help Desk:

Current Fellows: Email your institution's coordinating official or


Telephone Numbers:  

Applicant, Reference Writer, Panelist, Outreach and General Inquiries: (866) 673-4737 (toll free: US and Canada), (202) 331-3542 (international)                           

Current Fellows: Call your institution's coordinating official

FastLane Application Module Support Staff: (800) 673-6188