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NSF INTERN Supplemental Funding

The National Science Foundation Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN) Supplemental Funding Opportunity was created to support graduate students seeking to engage in experiential learning opportunities. The goal of the NSF INTERN program is to help graduate students prepare for the rapidly changing career landscape for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines. Graduate students who are currently funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) or an NSF grant awarded to their research mentor are eligible to apply for supplemental funds for up to six months of support while participating in a non-academic internship to complement their academic research training. Please read the “Dear Colleague Letter” from the NSF detailing the program for the full details of the NSF INTERN Program.

The Rackham Graduate School is committed to supporting graduate student career and professional development through experiential learning opportunities. The sections below outline preparing and submitting NSF INTERN Supplemental Funding application materials. Once you have reviewed the “Dear Colleague Letter” and have decided to prepare an application, please contact [email protected] to schedule a time to go over the application process.

Student Eligibility

Graduate students funded on an NSF GRFP or their research mentor's NSF grant, have completed the first year of their graduate program (master’s or doctoral), and are in good academic standing are eligible to apply.

Eligible Experiential Learning Opportunities

Eligible experiential learning opportunities should supplement the students' career and professional development in a non-academic setting.

Eligible settings include:

  • For-profit organizations including start-up businesses
  • Government agencies and national laboratories
  • Museums, science centers
  • Policy think-tanks
  • Non-profit organizations

Deadlines (GRFP)

All application materials must be submitted to Rackham by October 1 to allow sufficient time for editing and revisions to meet the NSF deadline (April 15). The entire review process can take up to 7 months. Applications may be submitted earlier. Please see the Student Application Timeline for recommended internal deadlines to ensure timely submission.

Applications Materials

Internship Summary

  • A two-page description of the internship including how the activity will contribute to the student’s professional development and career readiness.


  • A 1 to 2 page resume including the following sections
    • Education
    • Summary of graduate coursework
    • Professional employment history
    • Publications
    • Additional experiences or achievements relevant to the experiential learning opportunity
  • Letter of Collaboration from the hosting institution
  • Letter from Research Mentor
  • Intellectual Property Agreement
  • Budget and Budget Justification

Doctoral Student Application Checklist

The suggested dates below reflect the timeline for a Spring/Summer internship (May to August)

Prework (August or earlier)

  • Review the criteria in the “Dear Colleague Letter” to determine your eligibility.
  • Talk to your research mentor about your interest in applying for the program and participating in an experiential learning opportunity.
  • Once you have decided to apply, contact [email protected] to schedule a time to discuss the application process.
    • Meet with Rackham or ask your research mentor to reach out to their program to determine whether internships will be funding for the coming fiscal year in early October. Each NSF Program determines the portion of its budget it will be allocating for internships annually. Budgets for each fiscal year will not be announced until October at the earliest.

Experience Application (August)

  • Research and identify an eligible experiential opportunity that aligns with your professional development and career goals.
    • Eligible opportunities can be with an organization with an established internship program or can be custom-crafted with an organization if no such program exists. Suppose an established internship does not exist at an organization. In that case, it is your responsibility to connect with a mentor/supervisor within the organization of interest and work with that mentor/supervisor to define the details of the proposed experience. The agreed-upon plans should include the internship dates, the scope of the internship, and the hourly schedule during the internship.
  • Obtain an offer letter or letter of collaboration from the organization and the supervising mentor at the host site.
  • Write or obtain an intellectual property agreement signed by yourself and the host organization. Download this sample to get started.

Doctoral Research Mentor Support (August)

  • Obtain a letter of support from the PI of the NSF grant by which you are funded. If you are an NSF GRFP recipient, contact [email protected]. If your research mentor’s NSF grant funds you, obtain a letter of support from your research mentor. The letter should include
    • Confirmation of your eligibility
    • A description of how the internship will support your professional development, and
    • Confirmation that neither you nor the PI has a financial interest in the host organization.

Funding Application (September)

  • Create/update your ORCID.
  • Write a 2-page summary of the internship. The statement should include a section describing how the internship experience will help prepare you for entering the workforce.
  • Write or update your resume to tailor it to the NSF INTERN program. Sections should include:
    • Education (current and degree-granting institutions, major/area of study, year of study)
    • Summary of graduate coursework completed
    • Professional employment history
    • Publications (include your ORCID)
    • Additional experiences or achievements that are relevant to the experiential learning opportunity
  • Create a budget and write a budget justification for all internship-related expenses requested to be covered. Please refer to the “Allowable Costs Under This DCL” section of the “Dear Colleague Letter” to ensure you are only including eligible costs as part of your budget and budget justification.

Submission Process

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

August or Earlier
  • Contact [email protected] to schedule an application review meeting.
  • Make any revisions to application materials based on recommendations from Rackham.
  • Submit all final materials to Rackham by October

Students funded by their research mentor’s NSF grant

  • Review all materials with your PI
  • Coordinate with your PI and the Research Administrator who supports your PI to compile all the application materials and complete the PAF
  • Work with your PI and RA to submit all final materials to ORSP

External Submission by Rackham or ORSP to the NSF (rolling submissions, until April 15)

Rackham (GRFP Only) or your PI/RA (non-GRFP) will prepare your application through and ORSP Representative will submit it to NSF. Earlier submissions are strongly encouraged as the process can take up to 7 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

How early should I apply for NSF INTERN funds?

Application processing by the NSF can take up to 7 months to complete. Please speak with Rackham ([email protected]) to strategize your application timeline.

Can I apply for NSF INTERN funds if I am participating in a remote internship?

Yes. In-person, hybrid, and remote internships are eligible for funding.

Can I apply for NSF INTERN funds to conduct research in a collaborator’s lab at another college or university?

No. Internships must be conducted at a non-academic institution.

Can I apply for NSF INTERN funds to participate in a collaboration with a National Lab, for-profit, or non-profit institution?

Yes. As long as the internship is at a non-academic institution and the experience will provide professional development beyond that of your degree program.

Do I have to pause my training grant or GRFP funding?

Yes, you must be “on reserve” during your internship but may resume your training grant once your internship is complete. You cannot receive funding from overlapping sources.

Contact Professional and Academic Development

1530 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 734.647.4013
Fax: 734.936.2848


Professional and Academic Development is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.