(CLOSED) NSF 18-507 Research Traineeship (NRT) Program

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

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 NRT 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.

The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students 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. For FY2019 and FY2020, the NRT Program requests proposals in any interdisciplinary research theme of national priority, with special emphasis on the six NSF Research Big Ideas. The NSF Research Big Ideas are Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR), The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (HTF), Navigating the New Arctic (NNA), Windows on the Universe: The Era of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics (WOU), The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution (QL), and Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype (ROL).

The NRT program addresses 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. NRT especially welcomes proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF INCLUDES to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society (https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/nsfincludes/index.jsp). Collaborations are encouraged between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects.

Award Information:

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 10 to 12

The estimated number of awards listed above is for FY2018. The number of awards and funding level in FY2019 and FY2020 are anticipated to be similar to FY2018. Funding amounts depend upon availability of funds.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $36,100,000

NRT Awards (10-12 anticipated in FY2018) are expected to be up to five (5) years in duration with a total budget up to $3,000,000.

Eligibility Information:

Who May Submit Proposals

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Universities and colleges accredited in, and having a campus located in, the U.S. acting on behalf of their faculty members and that award a research-based master’s degree and/or a doctoral degree in a STEM discipline supported by the National Science Foundation.

Who May Serve as PI:

The PI must be on the faculty of the submitting institution.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 2

An eligible organization may participate in two proposals per competition. Participation includes serving as a lead organization, non-lead organization, or subawardee on any proposal. Organizations participating solely as evaluators on projects are excluded from this limitation. Proposals that exceed the institutional eligibility limit (beyond the first two submissions based on timestamp) will be returned without review regardless of the institution’s role (lead organization, non-lead collaborative, or subawardee) in the returned proposal.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

An individual may serve as Lead Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on only one proposal submitted to the NRT program per annual competition. Proposals that exceed the PI/Co-PI eligibility limit (beyond the first submission based on timestamp), will be returned without review regardless of the individual's role (PI or co-PI) in the returned proposal.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor LOI Deadline: 
Nov 26, 2018
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Feb 06, 2019
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should send the following documents in sequence in one PDF no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

  • The name and departmental affiliation of the Principal Investigator (PI).
  • The name(s) and departmental affiliation(s) of the Co-PI(s) and others composing the Core Participants (maximum 10).
  • The 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”; evaluators are exempt from institutional eligibility limits (see section IV). 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
  • Priority Area
  • Project Synopsis (up to 2500 text characters including required organizational statement): 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 subawardee 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, see participating institution instructions above), 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."
  • Describe the research funding records of the training team which will support trainee research activities. (NOTE: NRT funding primarily supports student stipends and tuition but provide negligible support for their research activities, so a track record of NSF funding is important.)
  • Please mention any other relevant qualifications the team has to conduct the proposed program.

    • E.g., experience creating curriculum, mentoring experience, diversity recruitment experience, etc.
  • Explanation of Program Evaluation.

    • How will you evaluate the program’s success of training?
    • What are the expected competencies and outcomes anticipated for trainees of the program?

Letter of Intent Preparation Instructions:

  • Submission by an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) is required when submitting a Letter of Intent
  • A Minimum of 0 and Maximum of 20 Other Participating Organizations are allowed
  • A required statement concerning partner organizations and eligibility limits must be included in the program synopsis; see the instructions above for the appropriate text. Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) submission is taken as a certification that partner organizations have been notified and agreed to participate.
  • Name and departmental affiliation of core participants (up to 10 including co-PIs) is required when submitting an LOI
  • Include an appropriately formatted title that begins with the correct program prefix (e.g. NRT-HTF:, NRT-WOU: NRT-HDR:)
  • Target disciplines that contribute to the research focus are required when submitting an LOI
  • Submission of multiple LOIs for a single project is not allowed and each LOI is specific to the project, project title and PI

Formatting Guidelines:

  • Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
  • Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)

Questions concerning the limited submissions process may be submitted tolimitedsubs@psu.edu.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 4:00pm
Hockett, Kevin (Ag. Sciences, Plant Pathology), Messner, John (Engineering, Architectural Engineering) 10/4/18