About the NSF GRFP

What is the NSF GRFP?

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship is a great way to gain both freedom and visibility early in a research career. The fellowship includes three years of financial support in the form of a $34,000 annual stipend (paid to you) and an additional $12,000 paid annually to your graduate program.

How do I apply?

To apply, you need to be:

  1. A U.S. citizen / permanent resident
  2. In your 0th (senior undergrad), 1st, or 2nd year of grad school
  3. Pursuing a research-based Master’s or PhD (med school doesn’t apply).

Next, you will need to prepare these documents:

  1. Personal Statement (3 pages): Outline your educational and professional development plans and career goals. How do you envision graduate school preparing your for a career that allows you to contribute to expanding scientific understanding as well as broadly benefit society?
  2. Research Statement (2 pages): 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.

Finally, you will need to include three letters of recommendation. That’s it!

For more details, you can find everything on the NSF GRFP webpage.


I applied for the fellowship in 2020 as a first-year PhD student, and am very grateful to have been selected. For me, an important part of the application process was interacting with previous recipients and reading over their materials.

There is a blog post by Alex Lang that outlines absolutely everything you might ever need to know about applying. He maintains a collection of successful essays here.

It can be kind of overwhelming once you realize just how many resources there are telling you how to craft the perfect application. I would say find at least one person you can trust to read over your materials and give you honest feedback.

I asked one of my letter writers, Do you believe I am a competitive applicant for the NSF GRFP? The response I got was:

Definitely go for GRFP. Just do it. :smile:

My materials

Here is my personal statement and my research statement. Here are my reviews.

Please feel free to reach out!