What is the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship? 

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The program is dedicated to training graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral STEM fields in high priority interdisciplinary research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. 

The NRT program encourages strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, national laboratories, field stations, teaching and learning centers, informal science centers, and academic partners are encouraged. Proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF INCLUDES to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society are especially welcomed. Collaborations are encouraged between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects.

The internal deadline for the 2020-2021 NSF NRT competition has passed. Information and deadlines for the 2021-2022 competition will be posted as soon as they are available.

What Is the Application and Selection Process? 

Up to two proposals per year will be selected to participate in the NSF NRT program competition.  To be considered, you must complete and submit the Graduate School’s NRT Letter of Intent form by the internal deadline. The LOI should follow the standards and requirements of NSF for the NRT Letter of Intent. Letters of Intent will be reviewed by a faculty committee and nominees selected to develop and submit a Letter of Intent to NSF.  Priority consideration will be given to proposals in the six NSF research areas listed above.

The committee will also consider the following when reviewing Letters of Intent:

  • Integration of Research and Education: Will the training program address training needs that are not currently available at the institution(s) and/or in disciplines, and are there clear and compelling connections between the training elements and the interdisciplinary research theme?
  • Interdisciplinarity or Convergence: What is the degree of interdisciplinarity or convergence and the potential for high impact synergies among the disciplines?
  • Professional Development: Will the proposed training program provide NRT trainees with professional development training for a range of research and research-related career pathways, both within and outside academia?
  • Potential for Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities: Do the proposed training program recruiting and mentoring plans have high potential to broaden participation?
  • Evaluation Plan: Does the evaluation plan include outcomes, performance measures, benchmarks, and an evaluation timetable, as well as a description of how formative evaluation will improve practice?

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NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program Letters of Intent Instructions

Instructions for NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program Letters of Intent 2020-2021

Complete the Letter of Intent form and upload the LOI by the internal Graduate School deadline.  Letters of Intent must include the following:

  • Name, college, and departmental affiliation of the Principal Investigator (PI).
  • Name(s), college(s), and departmental affiliation(s) of the Co-PI(s) and others composing the Core Participants (maximum 10).
  • Names(s) of any other (non-lead) participating institutions or organizations. If the sole contribution of the partner is evaluation, then designate as “Evaluation: institutional or organizational name.”  If there are partnering institutions, then the LOI MUST include the appropriate mandatory statement at the end of the project synopsis (see Project Synopsis below).  
Project Title

The title must begin with “NRT-HDR:” or “NRT-INFEWS:” for projects targeting the Harnessing the Data Revolution or Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems research areas, respectively. Titles for projects addressing another interdisciplinary theme of national importance must begin with “NRT:”. Any collaborative project with proposals from multiple institutions should begin with “Collaborative Research:”. For example, a collaborative proposal in INFEWS would have a title beginning “Collaborative Research: NRT-INFEWS:”

Project Synopsis

Provide a brief summary of the vision and goals of the proposed training program, including a brief description of the interdisciplinary research theme, the main training elements, the integration of the research and training, and the need for the program. Add the appropriate required partner organization statement at the end of the project synopsis. 

  • If the project has a partner institution that is not solely an evaluator, then the following text must appear at the end of the project synopsis: "The participating institutions and organizations have agreed to partner on this NRT project. The NRT-eligible institutions have been informed by the lead organization that serving as a non-lead organization or sub-awardee on a proposal where the institution appears in the budget will count toward their institutional eligibility limit of two NRT proposals per annual competition.” NRT-eligible institutions are universities and colleges accredited in and having a campus located in the U.S. that award a research-based master’s degree and/or a doctoral degree in a STEM discipline supported by the National Science Foundation. 
  • If the project has no NRT-eligible partner institutions or if the only NRT-eligible institution solely has an evaluation role (and has been designated as such), then the following text is required at the end of the project synopsis: "There are no NRT-eligible institutions partnering on this project outside of an evaluation role.

The required organizational statement is included in the 2500 synopsis character limit.

Target Disciplines

List up to five primary disciplinary areas contributing to the research focus. 

Application Deadlines

The internal deadline for the 2020-2021 NSF NRT competition has passed. Information and deadlines for the 2021-2022 competition will be posted as soon as they are available.


Contact Char Voight  with questions.