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TCNJ School of Science Support Program for Student Applicants to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

Fellowship Overview

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship provides a $34,000/yr stipend for 3 years, as well as internship opportunities, international exchange opportunities, greater choice of advisors, prestige, guaranteed support, and more time for research. The fellowship is awarded to an individual, so the award is flexible to carry to any institution.

  • Anticipated # of awards: 1,600
  • Funding rate: 2020 – 2,000 awards out of 13,000 applicants (15% funding rate)
  • Deadlines: October 19-22, 2020 (subject dependent)
  • Scholarships for research-based Master’s and PhD degrees
  • 2 chances to apply (senior year undergraduate students, once during 1st or 2nd year of graduate school)
  • Will not support MD/PhD, non-research based Master’s, or medical/professional degrees
  • Fellows have opportunities for outside internships, professional development, and international research funding support
  • Funds are also provided for tuition reimbursement to your institution (up to $12,000/yr)
  • Must be a US citizen, national, or permanent resident and accepted in a grad program by May 1, but no more than 12 months after acceptance, to receive award
  • Many fields of study are applicable

TCNJ School of Science Support Program – Fall 2020

All events in Fall 2020 will be held virtually. Contact Erin Jo Tiedeken ( with any questions about these events. All students are welcome but these events will be particularly useful for juniors and seniors. 

  • Information Session on the NSF GRFP (two identical sessions scheduled) 
    • Thursday September 10, 3:30-4:30pm
    • Friday September 11, 3:30-4:30pm
    • Zoom link:
  • NSF GRFP Writing Workshop: Essay #1 (Research Statement)
    • Thursday September 17, 4-5pm
    • Zoom link:
  • NSF GRFP Writing Workshop: Essay #2 (Personal Statement)
    • Tuesday Sept 22, 12:30-1:30pm
    • Zoom link:

Dr. Tiedeken will also be holding virtual office hours from 10-11am on September 30, October 7, and October 14. Students can drop in and ask questions about their applications or the award in general, and no RSVP is needed. Zoom link for office hours:


  • October 19, 2020 – Life Sciences
  • October 20, 2020 – Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Materials Research, Psychology, Social Sciences, STEM Education and Learning
  • October 21, 2020 – Engineering
  • October 22, 2020 – Chemistry, Geosciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astronomy
  • October 30, 2020 – all reference letters

Application components

A. Fastlane application form

  • Personal information, education, and work experience
  • Transcripts (official or unofficial – no password protection, must be electronic files, must include fall semester, and must include the name of your institution)
  • Proposed study/graduate institution
  • Letter writer information

B. Graduate Research Plan statement (2 pages)

  • Present an original research topic that you would like to pursue in graduate school
  • Describe the research, approach, resources needed, and literature cited
  • Can be an extension of research you performed with your undergraduate advisor (but must represent a new idea – not completed work or grant proposal)
  • Should read like a two-page research abstract
  • Should relate to your career goals
  • Must address Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts

C. Personal, relevant background, & future goals statement (3 pages)

  • Should show motivation and readiness to pursue advanced studies
  • Include steps taken to gain professional knowledge and skills
  • Highlight experience working independently and on teams
  • Discuss career goals
  • Must address Intellectual Merit and Broader impacts on society

D. At least 3 reference letters – deadline is October 30, 2020

  • Completed and submitted electronically by each reviewer separate from the student’s submitted application

More Information & Resources

Social Media

  • Useful forum – NSF GRFP 2017 (also has information on grad school applications)
  • LinkedIn: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
  • Twitter: @NSFGRFP
  • Facebook: NSFGRFP