National Science Foundation
Our team has created this page to enhance the pursuit of National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) program. If you have questions about specific programs or want to confirm eligibilty just reach out to our research and proposal development team.
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is one of the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from early-career faculty, especially women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities.
Under our recommended timeline, within the accordions, you’ll find detailed information regarding each phase of the application.
Be sure to review the full Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) program and the latest NSF PAPPG for additional details.
Formatting & Preperation
Proposers are encouraged to review and adhere to the NSF's proposal formatting and preparation guidance. Additional guidance and rules can be found on the NSF's Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG).
Who May Serve as PI:
A Principal Investigator (PI) may submit only one CAREER proposal per annual competition. In addition, a Principal Investigator may not participate in more than three CAREER competitions. Proposals that are not reviewed (i.e., are withdrawn before review or are returned without review) do not count toward the three-competition limit.
Limit on Number of Proposals:
An eligible Principal Investigator may submit only one CAREER proposal per annual competition. No co-PIs are permitted.
Proposers must meet all of the following eligibility requirements as of the annual deadline:
- Hold a doctoral degree in a field supported by NSF;
- Be engaged in research in an area of science, engineering, or education supported by NSF;
- NSF Directorates & Offices include:
Directorate for Biological Sciences
Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
Directorate for STEM Education
Directorate for Engineering
Directorate for Geosciences
Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Office of Integrative Activities
Office of International Science and Engineering
Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships
- Hold at least a 50% tenure-track (or tenure-track-equivalent) position as an assistant professor (or equivalent title);
- Be untenured; and
- Have not previously received a CAREER award. (Prior or concurrent Federal support for other types of awards for non-duplicative research does not preclude eligibility.)
Tenure-Track Equivalency - For a position to be considered a tenure-track-equivalent position, it must meet all of the following requirements: (1) the employee has a continuing appointment that is expected to last the five years of a CAREER grant; (2) the appointment has substantial research and educational responsibilities; and (3) the proposed project relates to the employee's career goals and job responsibilities as well as to the mission of the department or organization. As stated in the Proposal Preparation Instructions, for non-tenure-track faculty, the Departmental Letter must affirm that the investigator's appointment is at an early-career level equivalent to pre-tenure status, and the Departmental Letter must clearly and convincingly demonstrate how the faculty member's appointment satisfies all the above requirements of tenure-track equivalency.
Faculty members who are Associate Professors or in equivalent appointments, with or without tenure, are not eligible for the CAREER program. Faculty members who hold Adjunct Faculty or equivalent appointments are not eligible for the CAREER program.
This three-page document outlines an individual's education and training, their appointments and positions, and other information that helps NSF assess how well qualified the individual is to conduct the proposed activities. The biographical sketch (biosketch) must be prepared on an NSF-approved format (I.e. PDF template or in SciENcv). Additional NSF guidance can be found here and here.
What to include in your biosketch:
- Identifying information
- Organization and location
- Professional preparation
- Appointments and positions
- Synergistic activities
- Certification that the information you've provided is current, accurate, and complete
The format of the Biographical Sketch is as follows:
- Name: Enter Last name, First name, Middle name, including any applicable suffix
- (Optional: Enter the ORCID ID)
- Position Title: Enter current position title
Organization and Location:
- Name: Enter 'Sam Houston State University’
- Location: Enter ‘Huntsville, TX, United States of America’
Provide a list of professional preparation (e.g., education and training), listed in reverse chronological order by start date.
- For each entry provide:
- the name of the organization;
- the location of the organization: Enter the City, State/Province, and Country where the primary organization is located. If the State/Province is not applicable, enter N/A.
- the degree received (if applicable);
- the month and year the degree was received (or expected receipt date). For fellowship applicants only, also include the start date of the fellowship; and
- the field of study.
Degree & Year
Degree & Year
Inclusive Dates (years)
Appointments and Positions
A list, in reverse chronological order by start date of all the individual's academic, professional, or institutional appointments, beginning with the current appointment. Appointments include any titled academic, professional, or institutional position whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary). With regard to professional appointments, senior personnel must identify all current domestic and foreign professional appointments outside of the individual's academic, professional, or institutional appointments at the proposing organization.
For each entry provide:
- Start date: YYYY
- End date: YYYY
- Appointment or Position Title
- Name of organization
- Department (if applicable)
- Location of organization: City, State/Province, Country
A list of up to five products most closely related to the proposed project and up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project. Acceptable products must be citable and accessible including but not limited to publications, data sets, software, patents, and copyrights. Unacceptable products are unpublished documents not yet submitted for publication, invited lectures, and additional lists of products. Only the list of ten will be used in the review of the proposal.
Acceptable products must be citable and accessible, including but not limited to:
- publications, conference papers, and presentations;
- website(s) or other Internet site(s);
- technologies or techniques;
- inventions, patent applications, and/or licenses; and
- other products, such as data, databases, or datasets, physical collections, audio or video products, software, models, educational aids or curricula, instruments or equipment, research material, interventions (e.g., clinical or educational), or new business creation.
Each product must include full citation information including:
- names of authors;
- product title;
- date of publication or release;
- website URL;
- other persistent identifier (if available); and
- other relevant citation information (e.g., in the case of publications, title of enclosing work such as journal or book, volume, issue, pages).
If any of the items specified above is not applicable, enter N/A.
- Provide a list of up to five distinct examples that demonstrate the broader impact of the individual’s professional and scholarly activities that focus on the integration and transfer of knowledge as well as its creation. Examples may include, among others: innovations in teaching and training; contributions to the science of learning; development and/or refinement of research tools; computation methodologies and algorithms for problem-solving; development of databases to support research and education; broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in STEM; participation in international research collaborations; participation in international standards development efforts; and service to the scientific and engineering community outside of the individual’s immediate organization.
- Synergistic activities must be specific and must not include multiple examples to further describe the activity. Examples with multiple components, such as committee member lists, sub-bulleted highlights of honors and prizes, or a listing of organizations for which the individual has served as a reviewer, are not permitted.
When the individual signs the certification on behalf of themselves, they certify that the information is current, accurate, and complete.
Current & Pending (C&P) Support
This document contains a list of an individual's proposed and active projects and sources of support. It is used by NSF to assess:
- The capacity of the individual to carry out the proposed research.
- Any potential scientific and budgetary overlap or duplication across projects.
- The potential the individual is overcommitting themselves with the proposed project.
The C&P must be prepared on an NSF approved format (PDF template or in SciENcv). Additional NSF guidance as well as their C&P template can be found here and here.
Important note - This CAREER proposal should be included as Pending on this document. All PIs should have a C&P even if it only lists this NSF CAREER proposal.
What to include in your Current and Pending (Other) Support document
- Identifying information
- Organization and location
- Projects/proposals, including the following:
- Project/proposal title
- Status of support
- Source of support
- Primary place of performance
- Start date
- End date
- Total proposed/award amount
- Person-months (or partial person-months) per year committed to the project/proposed project
- Overall objectives
- Statement of potential overlap
- In-kind contributions
- Certification that the information you've provided is current, accurate, and complete
Collaborators & Other Affiliations (COA)
The COA information must be provided through use of the COA template. The information in the tables is not required to be sorted, alphabetically or otherwise. Please refer to the frequently asked questions for additional information.
Each proposal must contain a summary of the proposed project not more than one page in length. The Project Summary consists of three sections: 1) an overview, 2) a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and 3) a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity.
The overview includes a description of the activity that would result if the proposal were funded and a statement of objectives and methods to be employed. The statement on intellectual merit should describe the potential of the proposed activity to advance knowledge. The statement on broader impacts should describe the potential of the proposed activity to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.
The Project Summary should be informative to other persons working in the same or related fields and, insofar as possible, understandable to a broad audience within the scientific domain. It should not be an abstract of the proposal.
Project Summaries must be formatted with separate headings for Overview, Intellectual Merit, and Broader Impacts. Failure to include these headings will result in the proposal being returned without review.
The Project Description section should contain a well-argued and specific proposal for activities that will, over a 5-year period, build a firm foundation for a lifetime of contributions to research and education in the context of the PI's organization. The proposed project should aim to advance the employee's career goals and job responsibilities as well as the mission of the department or organization. The Project Description may not exceed 15 pages or include URLs. Additional NSF guidance can be found here.
The Project Description should include:
- a description of the proposed research project, including preliminary supporting data where appropriate, specific objectives, methods and procedures to be used, and expected significance of the results;
- a description of the proposed educational activities and their intended impact;
- a description of how the research and educational activities are integrated or synergistic;
- a description of other broader impacts (with Broader Impacts heading), besides the education activities, that will accrue from the project; and
- results of prior NSF support, if applicable. See NSF guidance for more information. If an individual has not received prior NSF support, include a Results from Prior NSF Support heading with a statement below indicating such.
Successful applicants will propose creative, effective research and education plans, along with strategies for assessing these components. The proposed activities should help applicants develop in their careers as both outstanding researchers and educators. While excellence in both education and research is expected, activity of an intensity that leads to an unreasonable workload is not. The research and educational activities do not need to be addressed separately if the relationship between the two is such that the presentation of the integrated project is better served by interspersing the two throughout the Project Description.
Proposed research activities may be in any area of science, mathematics, engineering and education normally supported by NSF (see the PAPPG for areas of research are not appropriate for NSF). To help determine the appropriateness of the project for NSF and identify the disciplinary or interdisciplinary program to which it should be submitted, proposers are urged to refer to the NSF Guide to Programs. Program information can also be found on Directorate web pages, which can be accessed from the NSF home page.
Education Activities – The education component of the proposal may be in a broad range of areas and may be directed to any level: K-12 students, undergraduates, graduate students, and/or the general public, but should be related to the proposed research and consistent with the career goals of the PI. Some examples are: incorporating research activities into undergraduate courses; teaching a graduate seminar on the topic of the research; designing innovative courses or curricula; providing mentored international research experiences for U.S. students; linking education activities to industrial, international, or cross-disciplinary work; supporting teacher preparation and enhancement; conducting outreach and mentoring activities to enhance scientific literacy or involve students from groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in science; researching students' learning and conceptual development in the discipline; implementing innovative methods for evaluation and assessment; or creating cyberinfrastructure that facilitates involvement of the broad citizenry in the scientific enterprise. Education activities may also include designing new or adapting and implementing effective educational materials and practices. Such activities should be consistent with research and best practices in curriculum, pedagogy, and evaluation. Proposers may build on, or otherwise meaningfully participate in, existing NSF-supported activities or other educational projects ongoing on campus.
The Departmental Letter must affirm that the investigator's appointment is at an early-career level equivalent to pre-tenure status and must clearly and convincingly demonstrate how the faculty member's appointment satisfies all the above requirements of tenure-track equivalency.
NSF encourages organizations to value and reward the integration of research and education and the effective mentoring of its early-career faculty in their department. This integration of research and education requires close collaboration between the CAREER Principal Investigator (PI) and his/her organization throughout the duration of the award. To demonstrate the department’s support of the career development plan of the PI, the proposal must include one (and only one) letter from the PI's department head (or equivalent organizational official). The letter, which will be included as part of the consideration of the overall merits of the proposal, should demonstrate an understanding of, and a commitment to, the effective integration of research and education as a primary objective of the CAREER award.
The Departmental Letter should be no more than 2 pages in length and include the department head's name and title below the signature. The letter should contain the following elements:
- A statement to the effect that the PI is eligible for the CAREER program. For non-tenure-track faculty, the Departmental Letter must affirm that the investigator's appointment is at an early-career level equivalent to pre-tenure status, pursuant to the eligibility criteria specified above. Further, for non-tenure-track faculty, the Departmental Letter must clearly and convincingly demonstrate how the faculty member satisfies all the requirements of tenure-track equivalency as defined in the eligibility criteria specified in this solicitation.
- An indication that the PI's proposed CAREER research and education activities are supported by and advance the educational and research goals of the department and the organization, and that the department is committed to the support and professional development of the PI; and
- A description of a) the relationship between the CAREER project, the PI's career goals and job responsibilities, and the mission of his/her department/organization, and b) the ways in which the department head (or equivalent) will ensure the appropriate mentoring of the PI, in the context of the PI's career development and his/her efforts to integrate research and education throughout the period of the award and beyond.
- NSF CAREER Departmental Letter - Funded Example
- NSF CAREER Departmental Letter - Unfunded Example
Collaboration Letters (as applicable)
If the project involves collaborative arrangements of significance, these arrangements should be documented through letters of collaboration. Letters of collaboration should be limited to stating the intent to collaborate and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. While not required, the following format may be used in preparation of letters of collaboration:
- "If the proposal submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal."
Specifics about the need for and nature of collaborations, such as intellectual contributions to the project, permission to access a site, an instrument, or a facility, offer of samples and materials for research, logistical support to the research and education program, or mentoring of U.S. students at a foreign site, should be detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment, and other Resources section. Requests for letters of collaboration should be made by the PI well in advance of the proposal submission deadline, because they must be included at the time of submission. Please note that letters of recommendation for the PI or other letters of support for the project are not permitted.
While letters of collaboration are permitted, unless required by a specific program solicitation, letters of support should not be submitted as they are not a standard component of an NSF proposal.
Budget & Budget Justification
Each proposal must contain a budget for each year of support requested. The budget justification must be no more than five pages per proposal.
The proposal budget sets forth how much money the proposer is requesting, by category, to complete the project. The budget justification provides a more detailed breakdown of proposed spending in each category as well as a justification supporting the numbers provided in each budget category. The proposal may request funds under any of the categories listed so long as the item and amount are considered necessary, reasonable, allocable, and allowable. This information is relied upon by NSF in formulating the total award amount and final award budget that is incorporated into any resultant award.
For full guidance on different types of expenditures, see the NSF guidance here.
Facilities & Other Resources
This section of the proposal is used to assess the adequacy of the resources available to perform the effort proposed to satisfy both the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts review criteria. Proposers should describe only those resources that are directly applicable. Proposers should include an aggregated description of the internal and external resources (both physical and personnel) that the organization and its collaborators, and subawardees will provide to the project, should it be funded. Such information must be provided in this section, in lieu of other parts of the proposal (e.g., Budget Justification, Project Description). The description should be narrative in nature and must not include any quantifiable financial information. Reviewers will evaluate the information during the merit review process and the cognizant NSF Program Officer will review it for programmatic and technical sufficiency.
Although these resources are not considered voluntary committed cost sharing, the Foundation does expect that the resources identified in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section will be provided, or made available, should the proposal be funded.
Check out our facilities database to view many of the facilities available on campus.
Data Management Plan (DMP)
Proposals must include a document of no more than two pages uploaded under “Data Management Plan” in the supplementary documentation section of Research.gov. This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see Chapter XI.D.4), and may include:
- the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
- the standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies);
- policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;
- policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and
- plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.
Data management requirements and plans specific to the Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF unit, relevant to a proposal are available on the NSF website. If guidance specific to the program is not available, then the requirements established in this section apply.
A valid Data Management Plan may include only the statement that no detailed plan is needed, as long as the statement is accompanied by a clear justification. Proposers who feel that the plan cannot fit within the limit of two pages may use part of the 15-page Project Description for additional data management information. Proposers are advised that the Data Management Plan must not be used to circumvent the 15-page Project Description limitation. The Data Management Plan will be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal, considered under Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts or both, as appropriate for the scientific community of relevance.
Postdoc Mentoring Plan (as applicable)
Proposals that request funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include a postdoc mentoring plan. In no more than one page, the mentoring plan must describe the mentoring that will be provided to all postdoctoral researchers supported by the project. Examples of mentoring activities include but are not limited to:
- career counseling;
- training in preparation of proposals,
- publications and presentations;
- guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills;
- guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and
- training in responsible professional practices.
Proposers are advised that the mentoring plan must not be used to circumvent the 15-page Project Description limitation. Additional NSF guidance can be found here.
Provide references in support of both research and educational aspects of the CAREER proposal. Each reference must include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication. Proposers must be especially careful to follow accepted scholarly practices in providing citations for source materials relied upon when preparing any section of the proposal. While there is no established page limitation for the references, this section must include bibliographic citations only and must not be used to provide parenthetical information outside of the 15-page Project Description. You may view further NSF guidance here.