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National Science Foundation Innovations in Graduate Education Program

What is the National Science Foundation Innovations in Graduate Education Program? 

The NSF Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative approaches to STEM graduate education training. The program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. IGE focuses on projects aimed at piloting, testing, and validating innovative and potentially transformative approaches to graduate education.  IGE projects are intended to generate the knowledge required for their customization, implementation, and broader adoption. The program supports testing of novel models or activities with high potential to enrich and extend the knowledge base on effective graduate education approaches. The program addresses both workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. 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.

Please note the following for the 2020-2021 solicitation: As a special emphasis under this solicitation, IGE seeks proposals that will result in a single cooperative agreement for the development and implementation of an IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub. The Hub will facilitate IGE awardee communications about research activities and outcomes and provide a platform for external stakeholder engagement. Only Hub proposals submitted to the November 2020 deadline will be considered for funding.


Up to two proposals per year will be selected to participate in the NSF IGE program competition.  To be considered, you must complete and submit a preproposal to the Graduate School by the internal deadline.  Preproposals will be reviewed by a faculty committee and nominees selected to develop and submit a full proposal to NSF. 

The committee will consider the following when reviewing preproposals:

  • Potential to generate innovative and transformative approaches in graduate STEM training
  • Potential for developing skills, knowledge, and competencies needed for students to pursue a range of STEM careers
  • Potential for customization, implementation, and broad adoption
  • Clarity of stated goals and methods for assessment or evaluation of pilot success
  • Potential contribution to workforce and institutional capacity building related to graduate education training
  • Potential to form new strategic partnerships and collaborations

Refer to the NSF IGE Program Solicitation for more information on NSF application and eligibility requirements, and selection criteria.

Instructions for NSF Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) Program 2020-2021 Preproposals

Complete the preproposal form and upload your proposal narrative by the internal Graduate School deadline. Preproposals should not exceed 4 pages (preproposals exceeding the page limit will not be reviewed), with page margins of not less than 0.7 inch and font size not less than 11 points.

Preproposal narratives must include the following:

  • Project Title (must match project title on preproposal form)
  • Goals and Outcomes: Describe the goals of the proposed IGE with a focus on piloting and testing potentially transformative improvements in graduate education. Outcomes should be measurable and specific. Include a discussion of the broader impacts of the education model and activities.
  • Methods and Implementation Plan: Specify the approaches or models to be piloted and tested, including the targeted graduate student population and the justification for their inclusion.
  • Assessment/Evaluation Plan: Assessment of innovations piloted through the IGE program is a high priority. Include plans to evaluate the impact of the approach(es) and/or model(s) to be tested with specific reference to the project’s goals and outcomes.

Preproposals for collaborative projects should also include a description of the role of the non-lead institution(s) and the participating personnel, and the mechanisms for project communication and coordination. A collaborative project should be pursued only if the partner institutions(s) has (have) a significant role in the project and substantially enhance the education model or components being tested.

The internal Graduate School deadline for receiving 2020-2021 NSF IGE preproposals is Friday, September 4.

For those preproposals moving forward with full proposals, the NSF deadline is November 04, 2020 (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time).


Contact Char Voight with questions.