NSF 21-536 National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

The Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Office (SIRO) and the Office of Limited Submissions will hold an informational Webinar for interested applicants on Wednesday, May 5 at 2:00 PM. Register here if you are interested in attending.

The NSF Research Traineeship (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 or convergent research areas, through a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. Proposals are requested that address any interdisciplinary or convergent research theme of national priority, as noted above.

The NRT program addresses workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. The program encourages proposals that involve 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. NRT especially welcomes proposals that include partnership with NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) and leverage INCLUDES project efforts to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society (https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/includes.jsp). Collaborations between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects should strengthen both NRT and INCLUDES projects.

Focus and Goals

The NRT Program is dedicated to shaping and supporting highly effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas through the use of comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. The goals of the program are to:

  • Catalyze and advance cutting-edge interdisciplinary or convergent research in high priority areas;
  • Increase the capacity of U.S. graduate programs to produce diverse cohorts of interdisciplinary STEM professionals with technical and transferable professional skills for a range of research and research-related careers within and outside academia; and
  • Develop innovative approaches and knowledge that will promote transformative improvements in graduate education.

Creation of sustainable programmatic capacity at institutions is an expected outcome. Consequently, all proposals should describe mechanisms to institutionalize effective training elements after award expiration and provide appropriate documentation of institutional support for such efforts.

Priority Research Areas

For FY2021 and FY2022, proposals are encouraged in the research areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE) and the six research areas in NSF's 10 Big Ideas. The NSF research Big Ideas are Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR), The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-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 (URoL). The FY2021 Budget Request to Congress includes an additional $15 million to include a special focus on artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence engineering.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Sep 06, 2021
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should upload the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_NSF21-536_2021 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 three pages, pdf) identifying the project scope that addresses the key aspects and elements of the sponsor's solicitation, 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)

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 4:00pm
For help or questions: 

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