Skip to content

NIMH NRSA Practices and Guidance

The following guidance is offered to prospective applicants for National Research Service Award (NRSA) programs (F30, F31, F32, T32) supported by NIMH. NIMH is most enthusiastic about applications that are aligned with NIMH’s scientific priorities as outlined in our Strategic Plan and our Strategic Priorities, and that are consistent with the following NIMH practices:

  • NRSA training plans should include a minimum of two years at the same institution, continuous in time at each career stage. A training plan may include aggregate support from both an Institutional T32 and an Individual Fellowship.
  • Predoctoral students supported by an NRSA program (individual or institutional) typically should spend no more than 20% of their time on clinical and/or teaching duties

Individual Fellowships

The NRSA Fellowship application should document a viable source of funding from the Sponsor to support the research proposed.

Sponsors who have not yet successfully mentored a predoctoral student or postdoctoral scholar as an independent investigator are encouraged to include a co-sponsor with a track record for mentoring in the individual fellowship training plan.

Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research is an integral component of any training program. Successful completion of such instruction is required during Year 01 of a fellowship award. Instructional details must be reported in the Year 02 Progress Report. Full details about this policy requirement can be found in the NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-019 . This requirement is fulfilled if the fellow provides documentation that acceptable instruction has been completed within the last four years and during the current career stage (e.g. if a postdoctoral fellow, during the postdoctoral period).

F30: At the time of anticipated award, applicants to the NRSA for Individual Predoctoral MD/PhD and Other Dual Doctoral Degree Fellows should have at least 18-months of their research doctoral training remaining before returning to the clinical training phase of their dual degree program.

F31: NIMH uses the omnibus NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows to support “late-stage” training only. That is, this program supports individuals conducting dissertation research who have matriculated to PhD candidacy (typically after completing a “qualifying exam” or some other program-specific threshold). Applicants generally request 2-3 years of individual NRSA support to complete their dissertation research training and related activities.

Individuals submitting applications for the NRSA F31 for Individual Predoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research are eligible to do such at any point in during their graduate training, but should do so only when they can document a cohesive and sustained line of research and research training that would allow for an appropriate review of the application.

F32: NIMH uses the NRSA for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows mechanism to support early-stage postdoctoral research. The F32 training plan should clearly describe how the candidate will develop additional expertise that is distinct from what was learned as a graduate student.

Institutional Training Grants

T32: Applications for the NRSA Institutional Research Training Grant mechanism are strongly encouraged to include Individual Development Plans for all trainees.

At the predoctoral level, NIMH T32s typically support "late-stage" research training. That is, NIMH T32s are typically used to support individuals conducting dissertation-stage research who have matriculated to PhD candidacy (i.e., after completing a "qualifying exam" or some other program-specific threshold). Candidates are typically appointed to a T32 for 2-3 years when they can benefit from the programmatic activities of the T32 and complete their dissertationresearch training. NIMH encourages T32 programs to foster submission of individual predoctoral fellowships by their trainees.

Note that the NIMH also participates in the trans-NIH Jointly Sponsored NIH Predoctoral Training Program in the Neurosciences  that supports "early-stage" predoctoral training (typically years 1-2 of graduate education).

At the postdoctoral level, NIMH T32s typically support early-stage, postdoctoral research training when individuals are most likely to benefit from the structure and programmatic activities of an institutional training program.

Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research is an integral component of any training program. Successful completion of such instruction is required during the first year a trainee is appointed to a NIMH T32. Instructional details for appointed trainees must be reported annually in the Progress Report. Note that trainees must fulfill this instructional requirement during each career stage (e.g. predoctoral or postdoctoral) and at an interval no greater than four years. This requirement is fulfilled if the Progress Report documents that acceptable instruction has been completed during the current career stage and within the last four years. Full details about this policy requirement can be found in the NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-019 .