NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. In addition to funding basic research through its core disciplinary programs, the NSF also provides support for facilities, equipment, instrumentation, centers of research, and activities such as workshops that help to advance fields of science. NSF also is interested in "high-risk, high pay-off" ideas, novel collaborations, and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which will benefit humanity in the future. 

Early-career faculty looking to apply to NSF's 2022 CAREER Award Program, click here for information on our NSF CAREER Workshop series! 

NSF Center Grants

NSF supports a variety of center programs that contribute to the Foundation's mission and vision. Centers exploit opportunities in science, engineering, and technology in which the complexity of the research program or the resources needed to solve the problem require the advantages of scope, scale, duration, equipment, facilities, and students. Centers are a principle means by which NSF fosters interdisciplinary research.

  • The STC: Integrative Partnerships program supports exceptionally innovative, complex research and education projects that require large-scale, long-term awards.
  • STCs focus on creating new scientific paradigms, establishing entirely new scientific disciplines and developing transformative technologies which have the potential for broad scientific or societal impact.
  • STCs conduct world-class research through partnerships among institutions of higher education, national laboratories, industrial organizations, other public or private entities, and via international collaborations, as appropriate.
  • STCs may involve any area of science and engineering that NSF supports.
  • Visit the STC program webpage for further details and current funding opportunities.
  • The ERC program supports convergent research, education, and technology translation at U.S. universities that will lead to strong societal impacts.
  • Each ERC has interacting foundational components that go beyond the research project, including engineering workforce development at all participant stages, a culture of diversity and inclusion where all participants gain mutual benefit, and value creation within an innovation ecosystem that will outlast the lifetime of the ERC.
  • Current funding opportunities and more may be found on the ERC program webpage.
  • The MRSEC program provides sustained support of interdisciplinary materials research and education of the highest quality while addressing fundamental problems in science and engineering.
  • Each MRSEC addresses research of a scope and complexity requiring the scale, synergy, and multidisciplinarity provided by a campus-based research center.
  •  MRSEC may be located at a single institution, or may involve multiple institutions in partnership, and is composed of up to three Interdisciplinary Research Groups, IRGs, each addressing a fundamental materials science topic aligned with the Division of Materials Research, DMR.
  • Visit the MRSEC program webpage for opportunities and further details.

SciENcv logoClick here to learn more about NSF's required SciENcv (Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae) format. For tips and tricks on how to create and manage accounts, be sure to watch our OSP December Roundtable Zoom presentation

Dear Colleague Letter: A Broader Impacts Framework for Proposals Submitted to NSF's Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate

NSF's Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) NSF 22-1, Effective October 4, 2021. Learn more about the guide changes, updates to Research.gov, and other reminders & resources here (August 2021 OSP Roundtable NSF Updates). 

Additional Resources

Early career researchers are eligible (and encouraged!) to compete for NSF core grants and special initiatives as well as many other funding mechanisms. The article NSF 101: Funding opportunities for early career researchers describes several of these funding opportunities.

Planning to submit a CAREER proposal? Cornell Research Development provides resources and support to faculty, including trainings and 1-on-1 consultations. 

Through the Mid-Career Advancement (MCA) program, the NSF is seeking proposals from mid-career scientists at the Associate Professor rank (or equivalent) who wish to substantively advance their research program and career trajectory. A primary objective of the MCA is to ensure that scientists and engineers remain engaged and active in cutting-edge research at a critical career stage replete with constraints on time that can impinge on research productivity, retention, and career advancement. Thus, by (re)-investing in mid-career researchers, NSF hopes to enable a more diverse scientific workforce, including more women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities at high academic ranks.

The Program directors in the NSF division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) are a unique group of individuals that have vast technical expertise, are former entrepreneurs, industry-research leaders or investors. They manage NSF's merit review process and make recommendations for funding. They are available to offer advice throughout the SBIR/STTR award process. Learn more at https://seedfund.nsf.gov/contact/bios/

The Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) is the core policy document that applies to all NSF proposals and awards. This document is updated annually, typically in the first few months of the year.

NSF announced in early 2020 that the new PAPPG, NSF 20-1, was released. It applies to all proposals submitted or due, and awards made, on or after June 1, 2020. To assist the research community in understanding the implementation of NSF 20-1, NSF has provided the research community with:

The NSF requires researchers to justify not only the "intellectual merit" of proposed research, but also the broader impacts: the potential of the research to benefit society. 

All NSF grant applications that include funding for postdoctoral fellows MUST include a mentoring plan.

NSF uses a merit review process to ensure that proposals are reviewed in a fair, competitive, transparent, and in-depth manner. Your experience and in-depth knowledge allow you to provide helpful advice and constructive comments to proposers that can help strengthen their projects. With up to 240,000 reviews per year, NSF needs you! 

To become an NSF reviewer, send an e-mail to the NSF program officer(s) of the program(s) that fits your expertise. Introduce yourself and identify your areas of expertise, and let them know that you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer. Attach a 2-page CV with your current contact information.

If you need to find the appropriate NSF Program Officer to contact, go to the NSF Website: www.nsf.gov. Select the Quick Links tab at the top of the home page. This will take you to the selected home page. The "Contact US" column provides contact information for Program Officers and the programs they manage.

For additional information, visit the website - http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/index.jsp.

Email Research Development.The Research Development team is available to provide proposal development assistance on large, collaborative grants. To set up a consultation appointment, please email us at proposal-adv-osp@cornell.edu.



Photo: Guebre Tessema, NSF materials research program director, tours the CHESS facility with CHESS director Joel Brock as part of the announcement of NSF's funding for CHESS. Credit: Lindsay France (UREL)