The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Funds three years of graduate school in STEM, psychology, and social sciences.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: At a Glance


  • U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents
  • Fourth-year students and recent graduates
  • Majors: STEM, STEM education, psychology, and social sciences
  • Intent to enroll in a research-based master’s or Ph.D. program in the U.S.

Selection Criteria:

  • Potential to advance knowledge within the field, or across different fields
  • Well-reasoned, well-organized, creative and sound research project
  • Adequate qualifications, and resources to conduct the proposed activities
  • Potential to benefit society, and advance desired societal outcomes

Candidates for the NSF GRFP can affirm the following statements:

  • I seek a career in which I can advance research and benefit society.
  • I possess adequate preparation, and experience to succeed in the proposed graduate program.
  • I am able to produce a compelling research proposal.
  • I have engaged in research, teaching, tutoring, mentoring, outreach, service, and/or leadership activities that have benefited society and/or engaged people from diverse backgrounds.

Extensive Description

What is the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP)? The Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and social science disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. Fellowships provide the student with a three-year annual stipend of $37,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), as well as access to opportunities for professional development available to NSF-supported graduate students.

Since 1952, NSF has funded over 60,000 Graduate Research Fellowships. To build fully upon the strength and creativity of a diverse society, women, under-represented minorities, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. NSF Fellows are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. 

Merit Review Criteria: All GRFP applications are evaluated using NSF’s two merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. In order to present a competitive application, you must address both merit review criteria thoroughly. The Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement, and the Graduate Research Statement should both reflect these criteria. Please consult further information posted here.

Deadline Information

Throughout October 2023.

Eligibility Requirements

An applicant must meet all of the following eligibility criteria by the application deadline:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • Intend to enroll or be enrolled full-time in a research-based graduate degree program in an eligible Field of Study
  • Undergraduate seniors and bachelor's degree holders may apply before enrolling in a degree-granting graduate program
  • Individuals pursuing a joint bachelor's-master's degree must have completed three years in the joint program and are limited to one application to GRFP
  • Graduate students enrolled in a degree-granting graduate program are limited to only one application to the GRFP.

Application Process


  1. Personal, Relevant Background, and Future Goals Statement (three pages)
  2. Graduate Research Plan Statement (two pages)
  3. Three reference letters
  4. Academic transcripts

Deadlines: Deadlines vary by field of study, please consult important dates here

Tips: Please pay careful attention to the application preparation instructions available here. Also, please see FAQs.

UChicago Resources and Support: You are advised to work on your application months ahead of the deadline. The following NSF GRFP resources are available via CCRF Resource Library:

  • INTRODUCTION (Part 1) - includes information on the program, eligibility, application, choosing recommenders, review process, as well as Q&A with a recent NSF GRFP recipient.
  • RESEARCH STATEMENT (Part 2; also, watch Literature Review, Scholarly Sources, and Research Proposal) - seek support from disciplinary experts including faculty, graduate students, and UChicago library subject specialists.
  • PERSONAL STATEMENT (Part 3) - fully develop, write, and revise your statement as demonstrated in both Part 3 and group advising sessions; email Sandra Zupan to schedule one appointment (August 21-October 6) to obtain comprehensive feedback and suggestions for further revisions. 
  • BROADER IMPACTS - provides information on relevant activities as well as compelling examples from successful research and personal statements.
  • GROUP ADVISING - watch recordings of two group advising sessions; note that each session engages with different questions, and provides additional valuable guidance.
  • WRITING RESOURCE - consider utilizing Writing Science in Plain English (Greene, 2013) to produce clear, concise prose.

***Please note: CCRF supports current UChicago undergraduates and recent alum who have not started a graduate degree program. Current UChicago graduate students should seek support from the UChicagoGRAD Fellowships Advising Office and their research advisors. UChicago alum who are current graduate students at other universities should seek support from their current institution.

For more information on this opportunity, please contact: 
Jenna Sarchio