The first section of the workshop provides participants with early guidance on their writing statements and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).

Prior to receiving writing advice from The Writing Center in part 2 or meeting in faculty-led small groups in part 3, those who are interested in this workshop should learn all there is to know about the GFRP and their anticipated research topic.

What is expected?

The Prepare section allows you to become better acquainted with the GRFP guidelines and your research interests. NSF Fellows are expected “to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering,” therefore it’s important to take some time to review the following:

  • What is the GRFP and its expectations for applicants?
  • What are your research interests and how do they will fit well within the GRFP mission?

To help answer these questions, see the timeline below. There are tasks that are required be to completed before advancing to the next set of assignments, and others that are highly recommended in order to be prepared for the mentored sessions in part 3 and submission of your application in October. 




  • Potential applicants will gather as much information as possible about the GRFP.
    • Visit the NSF GRFP website.
    • Read the program solicitation in its entirety at least twice. The program solicitation contains pertinent information in regard to eligibility, due dates, application preparation and submission instructions, and more.
    • Explore other helpful information by browsing through resources
  • Reach out to potential advisors if you are an undergraduate student.
    • If you are a graduate student, meet with your current advisor to discuss prospective topics for your proposal.
  • Begin to read literature for any “knowledge gaps.”
    • Within your area of interest, comb through discussion and conclusion sections for any knowledge gaps that you believe you can “fill in.” Reading through the literature will ensure that you choose a primary field of study that best suits your interests.
      • Make sure that you keep track of all your sources and begin to construct an outline.
    • You will use these sources later on when you draft your Graduate Research Plan Statement, which will be revised in part 3. When browsing through this research, think about the following questions:
      • What issue(s) do you care about in STEM?
      • How would your research add to, or transform, your specific field of study if you were to receive this fellowship?


  • Complete Part 1 in Learn@Work. Part 1 is a web-based module where you will watch a 2018 recording titled, “The NSF/Early Graduate Student Grant Writing Workshop.”
      • Part 1 must be completed by August 2020
      • Registration instructions are found in the “Refine” section and the Resources page.

    How do I advance?

    You must complete part 1 to be able to advance to the next section of the workshop. Other tasks in the “Prepare” section, such as gathering information on the GRFP, filling in knowledge gaps, and reaching out to potential advisors are not required, but are highly recommended.