Office of Graduate Student External Grants and Fellowships | GradFund

The National Institutes of Health, a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is tasked with advancing biomedical research to improve the health of Americans. One of the ways in which they advance that goal is by investing in the training of graduate students who will go onto productive, independent biomedical research careers creating knowledge that will protect and improve human health. Read more about the NIH’s mission on their website.

Is an NIH Fellowship the Right Fit for You?


What are they looking for?

The NIH invests in the training of promising graduate students who will go on to create “fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.”

What does this fellowship include?

The NIH’s Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral National Research Service Award Fellowships provide up to five years (typically 2-3 years) of support through a stipend for living expenses as well as funds for tuition and fees.

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are currently enrolled in a research doctoral degree program.

When should I apply?

The NIH application requires a detailed explanation of your research and training plans, and should be written with the input of your advisor. Talk to your advisor about whether you are ready to work on your NIH application. There are three application cycles per year, with deadlines in April, August, and December.

Ready to apply? Scroll down for GradFund Resources.

GradFund Resources for your NIH Application

Step-By-Step Tutorial

The GradFund NIH tutorial will take you step-by-step through the process of writing your NIH application. From getting to know your funder to completing the last piece of the application, this guide will get you there. It’s full of great resources from the NIH that will give you valuable insights into their priorities and application process as well as GradFund advice on how to navigate this complex application.

Forums & Chat

Use our forums to exchange ideas with your peers and GradFund staff about applying to the NIH. We also offer an online chat service called ‘Ask a Fellowship Advisor,’ where you can ask quick questions about our services, your scheduled meetings, or application procedures.

Meet with Us

Meet with a GradFund Fellowship Advisor for a Help with a Funder or Application Essay Conference meeting to help get started with, revise, or finish your application.

Mentoring Program

Join a mentoring program and meet regularly with a peer mentor and other graduate students working on this application for help, support, and expert guidance.

NIH Proposal Writing Tutorial

We have developed the NIH tutorial to assist you in the development of an NIH fellowship application. Our tutorial is designed to teach you best practices in proposal development, to understand how to navigate the NIH application process, and to help you with the task of writing a competitive application to the NIH including organizing all of its components.

Proposal Writing 101

Articles and Advice

Make the Case That Your Project Will Contribute to Your Field

From a funder’s perspective, your passion for your project isn’t enough. Funders want to know that you have designed a project that does more than simply exercise your own intellectual curiosity. Even when it is not explicitly stated among the priorities listed in the...

Developing a Relationship with your NSF Program

*This blog is in preparation for GradFund’s upcoming Applying to the NSF workshop The National Science Foundation funds graduate students every year in a wide array of disciplines, from cultural anthropology to biomedical engineering. Awards are available for almost...

The NSF INTERN Program: Supplement Funding for Non-Academic Research Internships

On August 27, 2018, the National Science Foundation published a “Dear Colleagues” letter announcing a supplemental source of funding for principal investigators to help provide non-academic research experience to their graduate students.  The INTERN program, as it is...

Strategies for Revision Series (Part 2)

Have a draft of a research statement or personal narrative for your fellowship application? Feel like it’s in pretty good shape, but not sure how to give it that top-level shine? This post suggests a strategy of revision for seeing each part of your essay in a new...

Strategies for Revision Series (Part 1)

Have a draft of a research statement? Sometimes get a sneaking suspicion that it’s not quite hanging together? This post suggests a strategy for revision that’s quick, straightforward, and yet often effective in shedding light on structural problems. I can’t claim...

Procrastinating on your Proposal? Recover Your Motivation for Your Project (Post 3)

One thing reviewers look for in an application is your excitement for the project you’re proposing. But sometimes, it’s hard to access your own excitement. Grad school is a long haul, and even the most passionate researcher on the most interesting project will...

Procrastinating on your Proposal? Try These Tips To Jump-Start Your Writing Process (Post 2)

Some applications have so many different parts, each with its own guidelines, that the process can feel overwhelming. But remember: you only have to work on one piece at a time! Research statements and personal statements are required components in most grant...

Procrastinating on your Proposal? Try One of These Tips To Get Started (Post 1)

We all procrastinate from time to time. The high standards and minimal structure of many graduate programs can make procrastination especially likely for even the most capable students, and when we slip into feelings of guilt or shame, it can become even harder to...

How to Identify What Reviewers Want?

At GradFund we always say "you need to know the funder". But, why is this important? And how do you do it? Reviewers for graduate grants and fellowships are usually interested in both short-term deliverables (i.e. what training or research you will undertake for the...

Featured Funder: Point Foundation National LGBTQ Scholarship Fund

Today’s Featured Funder, Point Foundation, is a unique scholarship organization for “out” lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) students. Awardees receive funding for up to five years of educational expenses and also participate in mentoring...

NIH Proposal Writing Workbook

Once you’ve watched Proposal Writing 101, dive into our extended NIH Proposal Writing Workbook. The workbook will take you step-by-step through the development of an NIH F-31 application.

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Login for Access!

In order to access the step-by-step guidance found in our NIH Proposal Development Workbook, please log in to our website using your Rutgers Scarletmail credentials.


GradFund's NIH Forums

Use our forums to ask questions about the NIH and exchange application tips!

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Meet with Us!

Introducing A New Booking System!

We look forward to meeting with you!  Effective May 2017, we are using a new meeting booking system to manage GradFund appointments.

Whether you are a new or returning user, if you have not yet used our new meeting platform WCOnline, please click on the first time user link to set up an account so you can log into the system.

First visit? Click here to register. Returning? Log in below to book a meeting.

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