Mid-Career Advancement (MCA)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The MCA program offers an opportunity for scientists and engineers at the mid-career stage (see restrictions under Additional Eligibility Information) to substantively enhance and advance their research program and career trajectory. Mid-career scientists are at a critical career transition stage where they need to advance their research programs to ensure long-term productivity and creativity but are often constrained by service, teaching, or other activities that limit the amount of time devoted to research. MCA support is expected to help lift these constraints to reduce workload inequities and enable a more diverse scientific workforce (more women, persons with disabilities, and individuals from groups that have been underrepresented) at high academic ranks.

The MCA program provides protected time, resources, and the means to gain new skills through synergistic and mutually beneficial partnerships, typically at an institution other than the candidate's home institution. Partners from outside the Principal Investigator's (PI) own subdiscipline or discipline are encouraged, but not required, to enhance interdisciplinary networking and convergence across science and engineering fields. Research projects that envision new insights on existing problems or identify new problems made accessible with cutting-edge methodology or expertise from other fields are encouraged.

A key component of a successful MCA will be the demonstration that the PI's current research program could substantively benefit from the protected time, mentored partnership(s), and resources provided through this program, such that there is a substantial enhancement to the PI's research and career trajectory, enabling scientific and academic advancement not likely without this support. 

The MCA is the only cross-directorate NSF program specifically aimed at providing protected time and resources to established scientists and engineers targeted at the mid-career stage. Participating programs in the Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Geosciences (GEO), Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), and Education and Human Resources (EHR) will accept MCA proposals. To help identify the disciplinary program in which the MCA should be reviewed, PIs are urged to investigate the research areas supported by the different directorates and participating programs. 

PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss the suitability of their MCA proposal with a Program Officer from the appropriate directorate (see https://www.nsf.gov/bio/MCA_contacts.jsp). PIs from EPSCoR jurisdictions are especially encouraged to apply.

 

Submission Window Date(s): February 1 2024 - March 1, 2024 ; February 1 - March 1, Annually Thereafter

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.

PIs must be a) at the Associate Professor rank (or equivalent; see Additional Eligibility Information) and b) at that rank for at least 3 years by the proposal submission date. PIs must have current or proposed research that falls within the purview of a participating disciplinary program.

Pilot PUI Track in Directorates for Biological Sciences and Geosciences only, extends PI eligibility: Researchers at the Full Professor rank (or equivalent; see Additional Eligibility Information) at PUI institutions only and with proposed research that falls within the purview of a participating program within the Directorate for Biological Sciences or the Directorate for Geosciences may also apply.

The collaborative partner(s) may not be listed as co-principal investigator(s) on the cover page. Instead the partner(s) should be designated as senior personnel or consultants.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 35 to 45

The actual number of awards varies across disciplinary research programs.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $14,000,000 to $18,000,000

Varies across disciplinary research programs.

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

Funding Type

Grant

Eligibility

Faculty

Category

Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Interdisciplinary
Social Sciences

External Deadline

March 1, 2024