National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate education training. The 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 the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. Proposals are requested in any interdisciplinary or convergent research theme of national priority, with special emphasis on the 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 NRT program addresses workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. 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 are encouraged. NRT 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 (INCLUDES) to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society ( Collaborations are encouraged between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 2


  • Duke Internal: Sep. 28, 2020
  • Required Letter of Intent Window:  November 25 - December 6, 2020
  • Full Proposal Deadline Date: Feb. 6, 2021

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • 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 a STEM discipline supported by the National Science Foundation.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 2. An eligible organization may participate in two proposals per competition. Participation includes serving as a lead organization, non-lead organization, or subawardee on any proposal. Organizations participating solely as evaluators on projects are excluded from this limitation. Proposals that exceed the organizational eligibility limit (beyond the first two submissions based on timestamp) will be returned without review regardless of the organization's role (lead organization, non-lead collaborative, or subawardee) in the returned proposal. Only US IHEs are eligible to submit as a lead or non-lead organization.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1. An individual may serve as Lead Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on only one 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.



Amount Description

NRT Awards (14-15 anticipated each year) are expected to be up to five (5) years in duration with a total budget up to $3,000,000. Funding amounts depend upon availability of funds.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF.

  • NSF Biosketch of PI
  • Letter of Intent, containing:
    • PI name/dept.
    • Core Participant name/dept. (maximum 10)
    • Names of other participating institutions/organizations
    • Project Title
    • Project Synopsis (up to 2500 text characters including required organizational statement)
    • Brief summary of vision and goals of proposed training program, including brief description of interdisciplinary or convergent research theme, main training elements, integration of the research and training, and need for the program. Add the appropriate required partner organization statement at the end of the project synopsis (see solicitation for details).
    • Target Disciplines (up to 5 primary disciplinary areas contributing to research focus)

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code ILN)

Instructions for both creating an account (if you don't already have one) and submitting your materials can be found here:

Internal Deadline

September 28, 2020

External Deadline

December 6, 2020