NSF CAREER Award Proposal Development Resources

Resources from the UMass Amherst Office of Research Development - Resources on this page will help faculty develop their NSF CAREER Award project and write a successful proposal. The next NSF deadline for submission of CAREER proposals is July 27, 2020 (all directorates). 


UMass Office of Research Development is offering a workshop series and free access to an online course on writing successful CAREER proposals. 


Overview of the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program (NSF 20-025)

Program Purposes

  • Emphasizes the importance NSF places on early development of academic careers in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and dissemination of new knowledge.

  • Aims to provide stable support at a sufficient level and duration to enable awardees to develop careers not only as outstanding researchers but also as effective, committed educators.

  • Aims to encourage faculty and academic institutions to value and support the integration of research and education, in which the process of discovery stimulates learning and assures that research findings are quickly and effectively communicated in a broader context and to a large audience.

Guidelines - Key Points

  • NSF-wide. All directorates participate

  • Eligibility - Assistant Professor in a tenure-track position

  • Single PI projects, but can support other senior personnel in limited roles

  • Minimum budget $400K ($500K for BIO, ENG and Polar Programs) over 5 years, Includes indirect (59.5%)

  • Can receive only one CAREER award

  • Can submit 3 times

NSF CAREER Program website - program summary and a link to the solicitation: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503214

NSF CAREER Directorate & Division Contacts: http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/career/contacts.jsp 

NSF Organization List (useful for finding core programs): https://www.nsf.gov/staff/orglist.jsp


Sample NSF CAREER proposals:

Examples of the Departmental Letter of Support from UMass Amherst CAREER proposals

UNC-Chapel Hill, NSF CISE CAREER Workshop http://cisecareerworkshop.web.unc.edu/materials/

Example NSF CAREER Proposals http://pgbovine.net/NSF-CAREER-proposal.htm


Related resources:

Office of Research Development Broader Impacts of Research website:  https://www.umass.edu/research/proposals/develop-proposal/broader-impacts


UMass Training Resources:

Workshopping your CAREER Proposal: Click here for more information and registration.

Part I. Writing the Introduction, Overview, and Intellectual Merit sections and creating an outline for your CAREER proposal. May 29, 2020, 10:00 - 11:30 am, via Zoom

Part II. Writing the Education Plan and Broader Impacts sections of your CAREER proposal. June 26, 2020, 10:00 - 11:30 am, via Zoom

In these workshops, participants will focus on workshopping their drafts of key components of the proposal: the Introduction, Overview, and Intellectual Merit sections, which together usually comprise the first two pages; and the Education Plan and Broader Impacts sections. Participants will be expected to share their drafts with each other beforehand, and read them and be prepared to provide feedback during the workshop. We will be following the guidance and using materials presented in the free, on-demand webinar, How to Write a Successful NSF CAREER Proposal (register below) and participants will be asked to be conversant with that approach. Interested participants will be invited to form their own proposal writing cohorts aimed at the July 27, 2020 NSF due date

How to Write a Successful NSF CAREER Proposal: An on-demand webinar. Available March 2 - July 27, 2020. Register here.

Take a deep dive into what NSF is looking for and how to plan and write a winning proposal by watching an excellent in-depth webinar from Academic Research Funding Strategies, LLC. The Office of Research Development has purchased a subscription to the webinar, making it available for unlimited viewing by all faculty and staff until the end of July 2020. The webinar is in seven sections, making it easy to return to as many times as you wish as you are working on your proposal. It includes downloads of the slide deck, with active links, a proposal outline template, samples of key sections, and helpful articles.

  • Covers the basics of the NSF CAREER proposal
  • Helps you plan your CAREER project and position yourself to be competitive
  • Guides you through writing the proposal, section by section, with special attention on what each section needs to accomplish and how to avoid common mistakes
  • Includes downloads of an outline template, annotated examples, and helpful articles.

Contacts: Mary K. Green, MHS, mkgreen@umass.edu,  545-8641

Mary Fechner, PhD, mfechner@research.umass.edu, 545-4893

Office of Research Development