The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship is a very prestigious national fellowship. It supports outstanding graduate students pursuing Master's or PhD degree at accredited US institutions in NSF supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The goal of the NSF GRFP is to develop the next generation of scientific leaders who will contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering.

The fellowship provides a three-year annual stipend of $32,000, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution). It also provides opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom for Graduate Students to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. The reputation of the NSF GRFP also provides a competitive edge for its recipients in launching their career.


The NSF GRFP is open to students (U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or permanent resident) who plan to pursue graduate research leading to Master's or Ph.D. degree at an accredited US institution. The applicant should have completed no more than 12 months of graduate school at the time of submission in their lifetime. This means that the program is open to undergraduate seniors interested in pursuing a graduate degree in STEM fields.

If you are planning to do JUMP, you can still be eligible: Students in joint BS/MS programs are typically eligible to apply in the fourth year of a four-year joint program, in the fourth or fifth year of a five-year program, and prior to completing any additional graduate study by August 1. Completion of any additional graduate study after the joint program would disqualify an applicant.

Please note that medical, dental, nursing and other health professions are not eligible, including public health and clinical areas. Complete list of eligible fields of study.


In 2015, the program received 16,500 applications from all over US, out of which 2000 proposals were selected. There have been two awards at UAH, one in biology and one in atmospheric science.


You should begin early in your academic career to build a research record. The GFRP looks for both a strong research trajectory and also the ability to communicate that research trajectory in clear language. Reviews for past GRFP proposals show that prior research experience provides a competitive advantage, and affiliation with research groups would help establish this credential, especially if they publish the work in a peer reviewed journal. The primary challenge of the GRFP application is formulating a relevant scientific problem, conveying the ideas using appropriate scientific terminology and explaining the broader impacts of your research to the reviewers.

If you are interested in this fellowship, you might think about applying for an RCEU (Research & Creative Experience for Undergraduates) grant or seek other research opportunities. These opportunities, and/or your Honors Thesis or Project work can then provide the foundation for your later application.

Students must begin research and preparation before their senior year.

Late July / Early August

Program Solicitation Released

Early August

FastLane Application Opened

Late October / Early November

Application Deadlines (determined by discipline)

Early April

Awards Announced

Early May

Fellows Acceptance Deadline

Note: Deadlines for the actual application vary by discipline and are available on the GRFP website. Most deadlines are the last week of October or the first week of November.


What you need to do, and what forms you need to submit:

  1. Personal Statement
  2. Graduate Research Plan
  3. Letters of Recommendation
  4. Academic Transcripts


Students should plan on working closely with their research mentor on this award. For more information about the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, please contact:

Dr. Udaysankar Nair

Associate Professor, Atmospheric Science

NSSTC 3072