The NRT Program accepts proposals in any interdisciplinary or convergent research theme of national importance, and encourages specific priority research areas that change periodically. All interdisciplinary or convergent research themes should align with NSF or other national STEM research priority areas and have high potential to develop novel, innovative practices in graduate education. Proposers should describe the importance of the NRT project’s thematic focus to the nation and the particular need to train students for a variety of careers in that thematic area.
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.
All proposals, regardless of research area, must clearly describe an overarching interdisciplinary or convergent research focus and outline how the research theme will foster high-return, interdisciplinary synergies. Proposals should also describe how the training and research elements will be integrated and justify the need for bold and innovative approaches to train graduate students in the thematic area. In keeping with the broader goals of the NRT program, proposals should demonstrate significant impact on the design and testing of new curricula and career-focused training approaches specific to the research focus area. Proposals should also discuss the project's potential to have impact beyond the institution, including the possible broad adoption of approaches, curricula, and instructional material within the relevant disciplines.
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.
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 only two (2) proposals per NRT competition as lead or collaborative non-lead. All Track 1 and/or Track 2 NRT proposals will be counted toward this total limit of two proposals per organization.
Participation includes serving as a lead organization or non-lead organization on any proposal. Organizations participating only as evaluators on projects are excluded from this limitation. Proposals that exceed the organizational eligibility limit will be returned without review regardless of whether the organization on such a proposal serves as lead or non-lead collaborative organization. Only US IHEs are eligible to submit as a lead or non-lead organization. Potential PIs are advised to contact their institutional office of research regarding processes used to select proposals for submission.
Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1. An individual may serve as Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on only one (1) 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.
Proposals may be submitted under two tracks (i.e., Track 1 and Track 2).
Track 1 proposals may request a total budget (up to five years in duration) up to $3 million for projects with a focus on STEM graduate students in research-based PhD and/or master’s degree programs. All Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members and that award a research-based master’s degree and/or a doctoral degree in STEM disciplines supported by the National Science Foundation are eligible to apply to Track 1.
Track 2 proposals may request a total budget (up to five years in duration) of up to $2 million. Eligibility to apply to Track 2 is limited to non-R1 Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members, that award a research-based master’s degree and/or a research-based doctoral degree in STEM disciplines supported by the National Science Foundation. Such institutions include Master’s Colleges and Universities that award fewer than 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees per year, Doctoral/Professional Universities (D/PU ) that award fewer than 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees per year, and Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity (R2, as defined in the Carnegie classification of higher education institutions). Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity (R1) are not eligible for Track 2 consideration.
Other requirements for Track 1 and Track 2 are identical.
NRT Track 1 Awards (14-16 awards each year) are expected to be up to five (5) years in duration with a total budget up to $3,000,000.
NRT Track 2 Awards (4-6 awards each year) are expected to be up to five (5) years in duration with a total budget up to $2,000,000.