August 27, 2018
Fostering the growth of a globally competitive and diverse research workforce and advancing the scientific and innovation skills of the Nation is a strategic objective of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Nation's global competitiveness depends critically on the readiness of the Nation's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce and NSF seeks to continue to invest in programs that directly advance this workforce. As part of this effort, a supplemental funding opportunity is available in fiscal years FY 2019 and FY 2020 to provide support for non-academic research internships for graduate students to support career opportunities in any sector of the U.S. economy. NSF currently invests in a number of graduate student preparedness activities and has historically encouraged principal investigators (PIs) to include such activities in research proposals to NSF. This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) describes new funding opportunities at NSF to ensure graduate students are well prepared for the 21st-century STEM workforce.
With rapidly accelerating changes in technology-driven global and national economies, today's graduate students will have a wide choice of career paths to pursue over their professional lives. Graduate students have the potential to make important contributions in careers outside academia, in organizations including: startup businesses, small and large corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. NSF's 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report reveals 79 percent of master's level STEM graduates and 57 percent of doctoral degree holders work in industry or government. It is therefore important that graduate students supported by NSF grants be provided opportunities to develop skills that prepare them to be successful for a broad range of academic and non-academic career paths. In addition to deep and broad preparation in their technical areas of expertise, skills and knowledge regarding communication, innovation and entrepreneurship, leadership and management, and policy and outreach are becoming increasingly valuable to enter any sector of the workforce.
Supplemental funding requests may be submitted at any time but no later than May 1, 2019 (for available FY 2019 funds) and May 1, 2020 (for available FY 2020 funds).