National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP)

Website: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program


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 GRFP Program Solicitation contains the official eligibility guidelines for the competition. 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 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 in STEM or STEM education (See Appendix and Section IV.3 for eligible Fields of Study)
  • Have never previously accepted a GRFP award
  • If previously offered a GRFP award, have declined by the deadline
  • Have never previously applied to GRFP while enrolled in a graduate degree program
  • Have never earned a doctoral or terminal degree in any field
  • Have never earned a master's or professional degree (see joint bachelor's-master's degree information below) in any field, unless (i) returning to graduate study after an interruption of two (2) or more consecutive years immediately preceding the deadline, and; (ii) are not enrolled in a graduate degree program at the application deadline
  • Not be a current NSF employee

Number of Times Individuals May Apply

  • Undergraduate seniors and bachelor's degree holders who have never enrolled in a graduate degree program have no restrictions on the number of times they can apply before enrolling in a degree-granting graduate program.
  • Graduate students enrolled in a degree-granting graduate program are limited to only one application to the GRFP, submitted in the first year or beginning of the second year of their degree program.
  • Individuals applying while enrolled in a joint bachelor's-master's degree program are considered graduate students who: i) must have completed three (3) years in the joint program, and; ii) are limited to one application to GRFP; they will not be eligible to apply again as doctoral students.
  • Individuals holding joint bachelor's-master's degrees, currently enrolled as first-year doctoral students, who have not previously applied as graduate students and enrolled in the doctoral program the semester following award of the joint degree, may only apply in the first year of the doctoral program.
  • Individuals holding joint bachelor's-master's degrees who did not progress directly to a doctoral program the semester following award of the joint degree must apply as returning graduate students (see below).
  • Applications withdrawn by November 15 of the application year do not count toward the one-time graduate application limit. Applications withdrawn after November 15 count toward this one-time limit.
  • Applications not reviewed by NSF do not count toward the one-time graduate application limit.
  • There is a limited opportunity for returning graduate students to apply for a graduate research fellowship. Individuals who have (i) completed more than one academic year in a degree-granting program, (ii) earned a previous master's degree of any kind (including bachelor's-master's degree), or (iii) earned a professional degree are eligible only if:
    • they have had a continuous interruption in graduate study of at least two consecutive years immediately prior to the application deadline; and
    • are not enrolled in a degree-granting graduate program at the application deadline.
Student Type
  • senior
  • graduate
Citizen Type
  • US Citizen
  • Permanent Resident

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

Application components include:

  • Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement (3 pages)
  • Graduate Research Plan Statement (2 pages)
  • 3 reference letters
  • Transcripts

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


Contact:  GRF Operations Center (866) 673-4737