Federal Agencies and their Fellowships

Feb. 16, 2016

Money for graduate fellowships generally comes from the following sources:

  • U.S. Government (federal, state, or local)
  • Non U.S. Governments
  • Academic Institutions
  • Foundations
  • Commercial/Nonprofits
  • Professional Organizations

These are not neat categories. For example, a fellowship from a university may be funded through a grant from a federal institution. However, by considering the source of funding, along with the context of the funding, when applying for a fellowship, an applicant can better speak to the goals of the funders.

Outside of fellowships that are internal to the UA, the U.S. federal government is the biggest source of funding for domestic graduate students. The 2016 Federal budget moderately increased the funding for departments, such as NSF and NIH that fund the sciences. Other relevant departments and agencies, such as the Department of Education and Department of Defense, also received increases.

In light of this news, I decided to outline the major sources of funding for graduate students from federal departments and agencies. While you may have heard of the specific funding opportunities below, it may be helpful to consider that source within the context of other federal funding.

Below you will find an outline, not a comprehensive list, of some major sources of federal funding to which graduate students can apply along with a description of the department or agency in which the fellowship is based.

For those of you who are interested in interning or eventually working for the federal government, be sure to look into the Pathways Program which operates across federal departments and agencies: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/students-recent-graduates/

The list below is just a sample of available opportunities. A good strategy when looking for funding is to find the federal departments and agencies that may be interested in your work and then to research the funding within those agencies.

Department of Agriculture

USDA’s mission is to provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management (http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ABOUT_USDA)

Department of Defense

DOD’s mission is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of the United States of America (http://www.defense.gov/About-DoD)

  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship: aims to increase the number of U.S. citizens and nationals trained in science and engineering disciplines of military importance - https://ndseg.asee.org/
  • Science Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program: intended to increase the number of scientists and engineers in the DoD - https://smart.asee.org/
  • National Security Education Project (includes the David L. Boren Graduate Fellowship): aims to develop a pipeline of foreign language and culture expertise for the U.S. federal government workforce - http://www.nsep.gov/

Department of Education

ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access (http://www2.ed.gov/about/what-we-do.html)

Department of Energy

DOE’s mission is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions (http://www.energy.gov/mission)

  • DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program: prepares graduate students for science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission, by providing graduate thesis research opportunities at DOE laboratories - http://science.energy.gov/wdts/scgsr/
  • Computational Science Graduate Fellowship: encourages the training of computational scientists utilizing high performance computing by providing financial and other support to talented students who enter a period of study and research in computational science accompanied by practical work experience at DOE research facilities - https://www.krellinst.org/doecsgf/application/
  • Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship: provides students with an opportunity to gain and develop research skills with the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy - http://www.energy.gov/jobs/downloads/mickey-leland-energy-fellowship-2016-flyler

Department of Health and Human Services

HHS’s mission is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans through providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services (http://www.hhs.gov/about/index.html)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Food and Drug Administration

National Institutes of Health

Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD's mission is to mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.

Department of Justice

DOJ’s mission is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. (http://www.justice.gov/about)

  • National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellowship Program: supports graduate students, in social and behavioral sciences and in STEM fields, who are engaged in research that addresses the challenges of crime and justice http://nij.gov/funding/fellowships/pages/welcome.aspx

Department of State

DOS’s mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere. Responsible for international relations. (http://www.state.gov/s/d/rm/index.htm#mission)

Environmental Protection Agency

EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment (http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/our-mission-and-what-we-do)

  • EPA STAR: supports masters and doctoral candidates in environmental studies - http://www.epa.gov/research-fellowships/star-graduate-fellowships
  • Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Internship and Research Participation Programs at EPA: administers internships and research project training opportunities funded by EPA - http://orise.orau.gov/epa/
  • EPA Environmental Research and Business Support Program: opportunities for students and recent graduates to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) research and administrative projects - http://www.orau.org/epa/default.aspx

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s vision is to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind. (http://www.nasa.gov/about/index.html)

  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program: supports graduate students in basic and applied research in Earth science and space science - http://solicitation.nasaprs.com/open (search for NESSF)
  • NASA Space Technology Research Fellowships (NSTRF): funds graduate students to perform innovative space technology research and improve America’s technological competitiveness - http://solicitation.nasaprs.com/open (search for NSTRF)
  • The National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. Fellowship: GEM assists underrepresented minority students in obtaining degrees in engineering and the natural and physical sciences - http://www.gemfellowship.org/students/gem-fellowship-program/

National Science Foundation

NSF’s mission is to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense (http://www.nsf.gov/about/)

There is more! Remember, the key to finding funding is to find funders who want the research or work that you can do. For more on finding funding, please visit our website: https://grad.arizona.edu/ofce/resources-finding-funding

The GradFunding Newsletter is a service of the University of Arizona Graduate College, Office of Fellowships and Community Engagement. You may reuse this article but please acknowledge Shelley Hawthorne Smith and the University of Arizona Graduate College Office of Fellowships and Community Engagement.

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