The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program is the agency’s most prestigious award. Awardees should have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. The award serves to help build a firm foundation for a “lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.” Successful Principal Investigators propose creative, effective research and education plans that are developed within the context of the mission, goals, and resources of their organizations.
This program is highly competitive. A key to success is to start early. Unlike other submissions, this is a career development submission rather than a research proposal; thus, in addition to proposing a research plan, applicants must also provide a career development plan and an explanation of how they will integrate education with research. This page provides multiple resources and tools to help applicants develop CAREER proposals and address important differences from more traditional NSF submissions.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Hold a doctoral degree in a field supported by NSF
- Be engaged in an area of science, engineering, or education supported by NSF
- Be employed in a tenure-track position as an assistant professor (or equivalent title) as of the annual CAREER proposal deadline (fourth Monday in July)
- Be untenured as of the annual CAREER proposal deadline (fourth Monday in July)
- Have not had more than two CAREER proposals reviewed previously
- Have not previously received a CAREER award (Note: applicants may have received other funding from NSF or other agencies as long as that funding does not duplicate the research described in the CAREER proposal.)
While dated (the eligibility dates regarding tenure are out of date as are the submission numbers), these presentations provide really good information about the program.
NSF CAREER Program Webinar Presentation Slides (PDF) — 2017
K-State DC Trip CAREER Presentation (PDF) — 2017, Engin Serpersu
K-State DC Trip CAREER Presentation (PDF) — 2015, Henry Warchall
- NSF CAREER Presentation (PDF) — 2017, Raj Mutharasan
CAREER Proposal Writing Tips
NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Tips (PDF) — ZJ Pei
12 Steps to a Winning Research Proposal (PDF) — Hazelrigg
CAREER Proposal Writing (PDF) — Hazelrigg
The NSF CAREER Program (PDF) — Pazzani
NSF CAREER Writing Workshop: This workshop provides future CAREER proposal submitters with proposal review experience and interactions with NSF program directors and recent NSF CAREER awardees. The application deadline is typically in early to mid-January; the workshop is offered in late March or early April. View the resources provided at one of these workshops. The workshop for this year was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, but you can View the resources provided at the 2018 and 2019 Workshops.
K-State Nuts and Bolts Workshop and Writing Clinic: This workshop discusses the requirements for a CAREER submission. A panel of K-State faculty members who have submitted to this program also provide writing tips and insight on putting together a CAREER proposal. The Writing Clinic is a follow-on for interested attendees who agree to participate in a series of writing exercises over the period leading up to the CAREER due date; the exercises are designed to help the participant develop a better submission.
Other CAREER workshops organized for specific NSF Directorates: These will be added as opportunities are announced.
NSF: Each year in mid-May, the NSF CAREER Coordinating Committee hosts a webinar to answer participants' questions about development and submission of proposals to the NSF CAREER program. The webinar gives participants the opportunity to interact with members of the NSF CAREER Coordinating Committee in a question-and-answer format. View the 2019 webinar.
NSF CEBT: NSF Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) also hosts an informative CAREER Proposal Webinar. This is also typically held in mid-May. View the 2019 webinar. It also has not yet been announced this year.
Library of Winning CAREER ProposalsThe Office of Research Development maintains a secure library of successful NSF CAREER proposals from K-State faculty members. To gain access to the library, you must participate in one of the workshops listed above or one of ORD’s or your college’s grant writing/CAREER sessions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “NSF CAREER Proposal Library” to request access or find more information. A webinar for 2020 has not yet been announced. These announcements can typically be found on the NSF CAREER Website.
Tips and Other Resources
Contact an NSF Program Officer early to make sure that your idea is fundable and of interest to the division to which you are considering submitting. If not, the Program Officer can help you redirect your thinking or find a better division for your submission.
Search the NSF Awards Database for examples of funded CAREER proposals in the division to which you are considering submitting.
Use the application checklist (docx) developed by the K-State Engineering Research and Graduate Programs Office. This list includes target dates for when items are due from engineering faculty members to that office.
Guidance from Other Institutions
Other Analogous Young Investigator Award Programs
Department of Defense
Army Research Office Young Investigator Award-This not a separate program like the other DoD Young Investigator Awards. It is part of the II.A.3 AOR Special Programs Section (p. 65) of the Army Research Office’s Core Agency Announcement Fundamental Research (PDF)
Department of Energy Early Career Research Program
Department of Justice New Investigator/Early Career Program in the Social and Behavioral Sciences and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (PDF) (Note: This program was last offered in 2017.)