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The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is open to graduate students in research-based Master’s or doctoral programs in chemistry, computer & information sciences, engineering, geosciences, life sciences, materials research, mathematical sciences, physics & astronomy, psychology, social sciences, and STEM education & learning research.  Fellows receive 3 years of support with a $37,000 stipend and a $16,000 cost of education allowance each year.  University of Iowa graduate students applicants are also eligible for the Fellowship Incentive Program ($250 for applying if feedback from both a faculty advisor and fellowships advisor is obtained before submitting to NSF—full details on webpage).


Eligibility:  Official NSF GRFP eligibility information is described here.  Briefly, eligibility is determined by discipline, degree program, citizenship, program stage, and research topic.

  • You must be in a STEM field described in the “Overview” section (and more fully here) pursuing a research-based Master’s or doctoral degree (e.g., MS, PhD).
  • Example ineligible degrees: MD/PhD, MPH, MSW, MD, DDS
  • You must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • You must have completed no more than 12 months of full-time graduate study by the application deadline (the in-progress Fall 2020 semester is not yet considered "completed".) Current graduate students at the start of year 1 or year 2 of either a research-based Master’s program or a PhD program can apply; if you are starting a PhD program immediately after completing a Master’s degree, you are not eligible.
  • NSF does not fund clinical practice (e.g., counseling, social work, epidemiological studies, outcomes research, health services research, intervention trials) or research that is directly health-related (e.g., causes of diseases, disease diagnosis, disease treatment, any intervention to prevent diseases, community or population medical interventions.)

Application components are described more extensively at the official NSF GRFP page.  Briefly, they include:

  • Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement (3 pages, single-spaced)
  • Graduate Research Plan Statement (2 pages, single-spaced)
  • Reference letters (3 minimum, 5 maximum)
  • Transcripts for all institutions you have attended
  • Follow all formatting instructions in the program solicitation and official FAQs exactly!