Fellowships & Scholarships
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
  • Northeastern: 10/16/2023
  • Fellowship: 10/16/2023

If you meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in applying for this fellowship, please fill out a preliminary questionnaire. You may contact the office with any questions.

Award Details

Award Website

The National Science Foundation makes about 2,700 annual awards to students with the potential to make significant contributions to research, teaching and industrial applications in science, mathematics and engineering. The fellowships may be used at any accredited U.S. institution of higher learning offering advanced degrees in science, mathematics or engineering. Fellowship awardees and honorable-mention recipients may apply to use 12 facilities at a Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure site. NSF also sponsors the Women in Engineering and Computer Information Science awards. Aside from the field restrictions, eligibility criteria are the same as for the regular NSF fellowships.

  • The NSF divides their awards roughly equally among the three stages of competition: graduating seniors, first-year graduate, second-year graduates.
  • The focus of the award is not simply preparing faculty – only 20% of awardees go into university research. The award supports all careers and trajectories – including those who work in the social sciences.

If you would like a Request for Reference form for to submit to you references, please contact our office at URF@Northeastern.edu. It is critical that you speak with your referees about the award, your qualifications for it, and your ambitions first!

Application deadlines vary slightly based on award, and must be received by 5 p.m. local time of the applicant’s mailing address:

  • October 16, 2023
    • Life Sciences
  • October 17, 2023
    • Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Materials Research, Psychology, Social Sciences, STEM Education and Learning
  • October 19, 2023
    • Engineering
  • October 20, 2023
    • Chemistry, Geosciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astronomy

Term Length: 3 years (usable over a five-year period).
US Citizenship Required

In order to be eligible you must be:

  • A US citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • Planning to pursue a research-focused Master’s or Ph.D. program in a GRFP-supported field.
  • Enrolled or enrolling in an eligible program at an accredited United States graduate institution, with a US campus, by fall following selection.
  • be at an early stage in your graduate career
  • have completed no more than one academic year of full-time graduate study (or the equivalent)
  • Graduate students are limited to only one application to the GRFP, submitted either in the first year or in the second year of graduate school
  • Meet all other eligibility requirements as set forth in the current Program Solicitation

As an undergraduate:

  • Individuals may apply as an undergraduate senior as well as post-baccalaureate, before beginning graduate training.

As a graduate student:

  • Graduate students are limited to only one application to the GRFP, submitted either in the first year or in the second year of graduate school.
The Fellowships are intended for students in the early stages of graduate studies in research-based master’s or doctoral programs. Eligible fields include, but are not limited to: mathematical, physical, biological, behavioral and social sciences; engineering; the history of science and the philosophy of science; and for research-based Ph.D. degrees in science education. Awards are not made for clinical, counseling, business or management fields, or for work leading to the attainment of medical, dental or other practice-oriented degrees.
For a complete list of NSF-supported field please click here.

The application evaluation involves the review, rating, and ranking of applications by disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientists and engineers, and other professional graduate education experts. The primary responsibility of each panel is to evaluate the merit of eligible GRFP applications by applying the National Science Board-approved Merit Review Criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts, and to subsequently recommend applicants for NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. Panelists are instructed to review the applications holistically in the context of applying NSF’s Merit Review Criteria and the GRFP emphasis on demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. NSF determines the successful applicants from these recommendations, with Fellowships and Honorable Mention offered based on the GRFP portfolio within the context of NSF’s mission.

Fellowship benefits:

  • Five year fellowship period with three years of financial support
  • Annual stipend of $34,000
  • Cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the institution
  • No post-graduate study service requirement
  • Access to supplemental funding to sustain research while on medical deferral (e.g. family leave)

Applicants must use the Research.gov/GRFP site (https://www.research.gov/grfp/Login.do) to register in Research.gov and submit their applications through the GRFP Application Module. Do not send application materials outside of the GRFP Application Module.


The application consists of the following:

  • Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement

Please outline your educational and professional development plans and career goals. How do you envision graduate school preparing you for a career that allows you to contribute to expanding scientific understanding as well as broadly benefit society? Page limit – 3 pages

Describe your personal, educational and/or professional experiences that motivate your decision to pursue advanced study in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Include specific examples of any research and/or professional activities in which you have participated. Present a concise description of the activities, highlight the results and discuss how these activities have prepared you to seek a graduate degree. Specify your role in the activity including the extent to which you worked independently and/or as part of a team. Describe the contributions of your activity to advancing knowledge in STEM fields as well as the potential for broader societal impacts (See Solicitation, Section VI, for more information about Broader Impacts).

NSF Fellows are expected to become globally engaged knowledge experts and leaders who can contribute significantly to research, education, and innovations in science and engineering. The purpose of this statement is to demonstrate your potential to satisfy this requirement. Your ideas and examples do not have to be confined necessarily to the discipline that you have chosen to pursue.

If you have completed more than 12 months of graduate or post-baccalaureate study or a professional degree and an interruption of at least two consecutive years (fourth option under Completed Study in the NSF GRFP Program Information section), please address the reasons for the interruption in graduate study here. Please refer back to that section for details.

  • Graduate Research Plan Statement

Present an original research topic that you would like to pursue in graduate school. Describe the research idea, your general approach, as well as any unique resources that may be needed for accomplishing the research goal (i.e., access to national facilities or collections, collaborations, overseas work, etc.) You may choose to include important literature citations. Address the potential of the research to advance knowledge and understanding within science as well as the potential for broader impacts on society. The research discussed must be in a field listed in the Solicitation (Section X, Fields of Study).

  • 3 Reference Letters

Applicants are required to submit three reference letters. There are five slots available for applicants to list reference writers. Applicants are strongly encouraged to utilize all available slots.

The reference letter should provide details explaining the nature of the relationship to the applicant, comments on the applicant’s potential and prior research experiences, statements about the applicant’s academic potential and prior research experiences, statements about the applicant’s proposed research, and any other information to enable review panels to evaluate the application according to the NSF Merit Review Criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts.

  • Academic Transcripts

Your academic transcript is the evaluators’ opportunity to view the courses you have taken, allowing them to determine your level of preparation for your proposed plan of research.  Thus, it is a significant component of a complete application.

An academic transcript is required for every institution you have listed in the application module. If your transcript contains your academic records for more than one degree, you need to only upload your transcript once. You can select a checkbox on the application that the transcript information for an institution is contained on the uploaded transcript for another entry on the Education and Work Experience section of the application.

Interested? Have Questions?

If you meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in a fellowship or opportunity, please fill out a preliminary questionnaire. Contact the office with any questions: