Sep 11, 2022

Applying for a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GFRP)

Overview: The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GFRP) is considered one of the most prestigious fellowships for STEM graduate students.  Recipients can receive up to three years of funding consisting of a $34,000 stipend, as well as a $12,000 cost of education allowance.

Post Contributor(s): Marian Kennedy



Photo by salvatore ventura on Unsplash
Congress created the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1950 with goals that include "promot[ing] the progress of science,” “advance[ing] the national health, prosperity, and welfare,” and “secur[ing] the national defense." To meet these goals, NSF actively works to develop a competitive national workforce by encouraging students to pursue advanced degrees (MS and PhD) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.  They also provide research assistantships and fellowships for these students. 

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GFRP) is the most prestigious of all graduate student support provided by this agency and may be used at research-based master's or doctoral programs at any university in most STEM fields and certain social sciences. Recipients receive up to three years of funding consisting of a $34,000 stipend, as well as a $12,000 cost of education allowance that goes to the institution to cover tuition/fees.

Applicants to the GFRP must be undergraduates in their senior year or in their first two years of graduate school.  Note that more awards are distributed to those applying as undergradautes than second year graduate students.   Therefore, if you are an undergraduate with authentic research experience and are planning to pursue a research-based graduate degree (PhD or thesis-masters), I would strongly encourage you to apply. 

The FY23 cycle solicitation is now available.  As you read through, note that the deadlines depend on your discipline.  For 2022, they are:

·       October 17, 2022: Life Sciences

·       October 18, 2022: Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Materials Research, Psychology, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, STEM Education and Learning

·       October 20, 2022: Engineering

·       October 21, 2022: Chemistry, Geosciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astronomy

To apply you will need to submit a personal statement, graduate research plan, list of academic honors/recognitions, and three letters of reference (typically provided by faculty or research mentors).  The application portal this year’s application will be submitted through  

While you submit your packets in October, you will find out if you were accepted in April.  You have until May 1, 2022 to decide if you want to accept the fellowship. 

Some things to note:

·       You may not use this program to fund joint science-professional degree programs, such as an MD/PhD.

·       You must be a US citizen, national, or permanent resident.

·       You are limited to one application as a graduate student. Thus you can re-apply if you were denied as a college senior, but after that you can only submit once.

·       GRFP selects recipients based on Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts.  Read more about these criteria here.  

·       Women, members of historically underrepresented minority groups, persons with disabilities, veterans, and undergraduate seniors are actively encouraged to apply.

Here is a collection of advice from winners that I found for you:

·       Alex Lang (2010 recipient)

·       Steven Woodruff (2018 recipient)

·       Mallory Ladd

·       Survey of advice from 33 geoscience recipients or honorable mentions between 2010-present


Acknowledgements:  This blog post was edited by Kate Epstein of EpsteinWords.  She specializes in editing and coaching for academics, and she can be reached at kate at