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NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) 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 at accredited US institutions.  Fellows share in the prestige and opportunities that become available when they are selected.  Fellows benefit from 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), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

Institutional Endorsement: GRFP does not require institutional endorsement; students may apply directly to this program.

Application Deadline: Deadlines vary by field of study.  Please see this NSF page for specific deadlines.

U-M Contact: Prof. Kate Barald, Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology. Please contact Jeff Edelstein to be added to our 2018 NSF-GRF Canvas Site for a list of peer mentors in different departments.


  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident at time of application

  • Students must be beginning or continuing a research-based graduate degree in an NSF-approved field. A list of approved fields of study appears on the GRFP webpage.

  • Successful applicants typically have a strong GPA, performance in classes leading to their proposed field of study, and research experience and letters of recommendation

NOTE: Effective as of the 2017 competition (Fall 2016 deadlines), NSF will limit graduate students to only one application to the GRFP, submitted either in the first year or in the second year of graduate school. No change is made to the eligibility of undergraduates, of bachelor's degree holders without any graduate study, or of individuals who have had an interruption in graduate study of at least two consecutive years.

Application Instructions:

  • Applicants apply directly through

  • The application includes a personal statement and resume items, a proposed graduate research plan, and three letters of recommendation from faculty in their proposed field of study and/or research supervisors.  As you ask for letters, be sure to include this link to NSF-GRFP advice to letter writers.

  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to work closely with faculty in their own departments in the completion of the application.  

Resources for Applicants:

  • Check out Alex Lang's website which has a number of examples in different fields
  • Robin Walker (University of Missouri) tip sheet for applicants
  • ONSF maintains a Canvas site with lists of current NSF Grad Fellows in various departments and sample application essays.  Current UM students should email to request access to this site.