Fellowship Information

Funding Announcements always supersede a general parent announcement.

Common Application Pitfalls

  1. Missing Letters and Attachments
    • Don’t count a letter from your sponsor or a collaborator as a reference letter. Letters from collaborators are also required to show their commitment. Diversity F31s require a letter from the institution saying the applicant is qualified as a diversity applicant.
    • Failing to Appreciate Submission Is a Multistep Process
    • Submitting Your Application at the Last Minute
    • Not Using the Right Application Form
    • Not Giving the Instructions Enough Attention
    • Producing an Incomplete Application
    • Overstuffing Your Application
    • Submitting a New Application but Referring to Previous Review Outcomes or Criticism
    • Using a Too Small Font

Know What Reviewers Are Looking for

  • Impact
  • Exciting ideas
  • Clarity of the research and training plans in context of your career goals
  • Realistic aims and timelines — Don’t be overly ambitious
  • Brevity with things that everybody knows
  • Noted limitations of the study
  • A clean, well-written application

Main Review Criteria

Overall Impact

Assessment of the likelihood that the proposed training will enhance the candidate’s potential for a productive, independent scientific career.

Core Review Criteria

  1. Fellowship Applicant
    • Scholastic performance
    • Productivity commensurate with career stage
    • Aptitude and enthusiasm
    • Clarity of stated career goals
    • Letters of reference
  2. Sponsors, Collaborators, and Consultants
    • Documented mentoring successes
    • Expertise in the field
    • Present productivity
    • Funds available to cover research expenses
    • Co-mentor to cover weaknesses
    • Clearly defined roles for mentors and collaborators
  3. Research Training Plan
    • Significance and impact of the proposed research
    • Logical hypothesis or approach
    • Clarity, feasibility, and alternative strategies
    • Stats, vertebrate animals, human subjects
    • Sophisticated technologies and approaches
    • Likelihood training will lead to publications and degree
    • Appropriate for the applicant fellow’s stage of research development
  4. Training Potential
    • Is there individualized training that addresses weaknesses and career development needs?
    • Will participants learn new technical skills, new design approaches?
    • Do training activities match career goals?
    • Will training confer an advantage to be competitive?
    • Will the applicant fellow receive requisite individualized and supervised experiences?
  5. Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training
    • Scientific environment
    • Opportunities for collaborations within and outside institution if needed
    • Resources available


  • Your sponsor needs to be an active/dynamic participant in your training.
  • Your grant should not just be a way of funding your sponsor’s research
  • Your efforts should show some uniqueness or individualized component to them
  • But your research should be related to your sponsor’s research.
  • Don’t just say what you’ve done. Say how it fits into the bigger picture.
  • Emphasize how you’re going to fill gaps in your expertise, add to your tool set, and explore different approaches or different problems.
  • Be upfront about any flaws and how you’re going to address them.