National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

UCI (Big 10 Pre-Application) Optional Advising Deadline:

April 6, 2020 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time (U.S. & all other countries of citizenship) for Fall 2021 admissions

Access the Big 10 Pre-Application between late February – early April annually to begin the optional advising process.

For Reference Only: 2019 Application Process Overview

The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education. Recipients may attend accredited graduate programs in the United States for study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees in fields supported by the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, including Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Geosciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Biological Sciences, Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and STEM Education.


Undergraduates who are U.S. citizens or nationals, or permanent residents of the United States may apply. Begin the process during the spring before your final year on campus by submitting a Big 10 Pre-Application. Current seniors or recent UCI alumni may also apply. You must finish your bachelor’s degree before enrollment. However, you do NOT need to have earned a bachelor’s degree by the time you apply.

Please note that external scholarship agencies will consider all of your credit-bearing coursework from any college or institution as part of the review process (including CSU, community colleges, private colleges or other UC campuses/Extension programs, and including units earned while in high school). Grades from other colleges will be included in calculation of your overall GPA for eligibility purposes.

Recent recipients have had a 3.2+ GPA and demonstrate professional competence and dedication to the field of study through publications and presentations, leadership or mentoring roles in academic or science-related organizations, and/or significant work experience/internships related to the major.

These fellowships are intended for students at or near the beginning of their graduate study in science or engineering fields. A complete list of supported fields of study is available on the GRFP website. Awards are not made in clinical or business fields, in other education programs of any kind, in history or social work, for work leading to medical, dental, law, or public health degrees, or for study in joint science-professional degree programs. Most applicants are graduating seniors, first-year graduate students, and others who have completed a limited amount of science or engineering graduate study.

UCI graduate students: contact the Graduate Resource Center for advising.

Selection Procedure

Working with SOP advisors is optional but encouraged. To begin the SOP advising process, juniors, graduating seniors, and alumni within 1 year of graduation complete a Big 10 Pre-Application. In April and May, SOP staff review Pre-Applications and meet with potential applicants to discuss their candidacy and subsequent steps.

After completing the Pre-App and meeting with SOP staff to discuss your candidacy, you will work on drafts of your application and receive strategic coaching from SOP staff. As time permits, SOP staff may also offer advising to your recommendation letter writers. For detailed information about each stage of the application process, please view the Application Process Overview.

The application comprises: Personal Profile, Education and Work Experience, Planned Graduate Program, Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement, Graduate Research Plan Statement, Transcripts, and References. Three letters of reference are required. There is no campus endorsement or nomination component.

Applications must be submitted electronically using the NSF Fastlane Graduate Research Fellowship Program Application Module according to the Field of Study deadline, in late October each year.

Recent Recipients and Merit Review Process

Each application is evaluated by a panel of research faculty in a discipline closely related to the science or engineering field of the applicant’s proposed advanced degree program. Reviewers will evaluate the way candidates’ written statements demonstrate the two NSF Merit Review Criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts.

Reviewers are also asked to assess applications using a holistic, comprehensive approach, giving balanced consideration to all components of the application, including the educational and research record, leadership, outreach, service activities, and future plans, as well as individual competencies, experiences, and other attributes. The aim is to recruit and retain a diverse cohort of early-career individuals with high potential for future achievements, contributions, and broader impacts in STEM and STEM education.

Recipients have significant research experience and convincing and serious research proposals. Awards are typically announced in early April, along with honorable mentions.

In 2019-20, Natalie Jamei Wu-Woods, Jessica M. Herrera, and Luciano Grosman were selected as fellows. Bryon Nicholas Tjanaka was recognized with honorable mention.

In 2018-19, Noreen Garcia and Kimmai Phan received the fellowship. Christian Totoiu, Stephanie Doering, and Rochelle Radzyminski obtained honorable mentions.

In 2017-18, Elena Thomas and Kenny Huynh were selected as fellows.The honorable mentions named were Devan Nisson, Wyeth Gibson, and Alexander Alvara.

In 2016-17, Nikolai Vogler, Manuel Torres, and Araceli Serrano were granted the fellowship. Rebecca Combs, Jason Yu, Ashlee Davis, Michelle Herrera, Pauline Ho, and Shiaki Minami were recognized with honorable mentions.

Currently, NSF provides a stipend of $34,000 to the Fellow and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the graduate degree-granting institution, for up to three years.

A $5,000 International Research Travel Allowance is available to some Fellows through Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW), and a $5,000 allowance is available to some Fellows to support internships at federal agencies through the Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP).

Any undergraduate or recent graduate with a strong academic record and research experience in engineering, the sciences or the social sciences should consider applying for these fellowships. While SOP only advises on GRFP applications, we encourage students considering GRFP to explore the great array of other NSF-supported undergraduate and graduate scholarships.

For More Information
Please consult the NSF GRFP website.

Access the Big 10 Pre-Application between late February – early April annually to begin the application process.

SOP is able to advise competitive undergraduate candidates at UC Irvine only.

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