NSF 20-595 Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) Program

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

An Accelerator Hub proposal will not count against the institutional limit of two IGE project proposals per institution. While the solicitation does not specify an institutional limit for Hub proposals, Program Officer guidance suggests that this is a very specific need calling for specific expertise. NSF is encouraging institutions to be judicious about submitting multiple Hub proposals. If you are planning to submit an IGE HUB proposal you need to declare intent in this competition


IGE projects are expected to generate potentially transformative models for improvements in graduate education and workforce development that prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers for the full range of possible STEM career paths to advance the nation's STEM enterprise. IGE is dedicated to (a) piloting, testing, and validating innovative approaches to graduate education, and (b) generating the knowledge required for the customization and implementation of the most successful, transformative ones.

The primary beneficiaries for IGE projects must be master's and/or doctoral students in STEM-designated degree programs. Eligible degree programs include research-based STEM master's and doctoral degree programs and Professional Science Master's programs but do not include programs that only award certificates or professional degrees (such as AuD, DDS, DED, DN, DNP, DO, DPM, DPT, DScPT, JD, MLA, MD, ND, OD, OTD, PharmD, PsyD, or SLPD).

The IGE program does not focus on comprehensive training of graduate students (support for which is available through other programs such as the NSF Research Traineeship program) or foundational research examining how graduate students learn (supported by the EHR Core Research program), but rather will promote targeted test-bed efforts that are informed by evidence, including findings from research on graduate education.

Activities proposed as part of the research project may include, but are not limited to, student professional skill development, career preparation and vocational counseling, faculty training, inventive partnerships, international experiences, internships, outreach, virtual networks, and mentoring. In addition, projects should utilize evidence-based strategies to broaden participation of students from diverse backgrounds.

Goals of the IGE Program are to:

  • Generate the knowledge base needed to inform the development of models of bold, new, and potentially transformative approaches to graduate education as well as their implementation and adaptability.
  • Catalyze rapid advances in STEM graduate education broadly as well as those responsive to the needs of particular disciplinary and interdisciplinary STEM fields.

The IGE Program calls for proposals to:

  • Design, pilot, and test new, innovative and transformative approaches for inclusive STEM graduate education;
  • Examine the potential to extend a successful approach developed in one discipline or context to other disciplines or contexts; and
  • Develop projects that are informed by learning science and the existing body of knowledge about STEM graduate education.

Leadership teams (PI/Co-PIs) including professional expertise in the learning sciences and pedagogy, as well as in the principal science domain(s), are strongly encouraged. Project teams should also have expertise in evaluation to implement robust and appropriate data collection methods.

IGE welcomes proposals from early-career investigators and complements the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program's mission and focus. For information about the CAREER program, please refer to the Dear Colleague Letter: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf20084. However, researchers at all stages of their careers including mid-career faculty and investigators from non-academic organizations are welcome to apply.

IGE especially welcomes proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (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 IGE proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects. Researchers at minority serving institutions are strongly encouraged to participate in this program particularly given their experience and expertise in broadening participation.


As a special emphasis under this solicitation, IGE seeks proposals that will result in a one-time, single award for the development and implementation of an IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub. The primary goal of the Hub is to inform and support the IGE program's goal of accelerating innovation in graduate education. The Hub should provide a service-oriented resource through which IGE projects can communicate and collaborate with each other as well as inform STEM graduate education community and its stakeholders about IGE projects and project outcomes.

Minimally, the IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub should (1) support access to knowledge and collaborations among researchers on innovation in STEM graduate education and (2) foster communities of practice that bridge IGE funded projects and the variety of stakeholders in the graduate education and STEM workforce communities. Detailed preferences are included in the solicitation.

Proposals to implement an IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub should aim to build knowledge and capacity across STEM fields and support acceleration of innovation in graduate education. The Hub would do this by: highlighting knowledge resulting from IGE projects on the effectiveness of models for preparing graduate students for broad STEM careers; facilitating communication about potential adoption and adaptation; and documenting instances of implementation and adaptability of those models.

To support capacity-building in STEM research on graduate education innovation, the IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub should serve both existing and prospective investigators to the IGE program. It should use network channels such as invitational meetings and communication outlets that encourage knowledge sharing. The Hub should assist IGE and other NSF programs in advancing the science of educational innovation by facilitating dialogue about methodologies, data collection, models, analysis, measurement practices and evaluation. In addition, the Hub is intended to be synergistic with existing activities of professional associations, resource hubs and centers, and other resources offered through organizations and institutions engaged in graduate education and STEM workforce readiness.

NSF expects to support the IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub for a period of five years.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Nov 04, 2020
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should upload the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_NSF20-595_2020 no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

1. Cover Letter (1 page, pdf):

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • PI name, departmental affiliations(s) and contact information
  • Co-PI's names and departmental affiliation(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

2. Project Description (no more than two pages, pdf) and identify the project scope that addresses the key aspects and elements, principal investigators, collaborators, and partner organizations.

3. 2-page CV's of Investigators

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 to limitedsubs@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: 
Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 4:00pm