Project Description

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that ensure that graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The NRT program includes two tracks: the Traineeship Track and the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) Track.

The Traineeship Track is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. For FY2017, the priority areas are: (1) Understanding the Brain (UtB), (2) Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS), and (3) any other interdisciplinary research theme of national priority.

The IGE Track focuses on test-bed projects aimed at piloting, testing, and validating innovative and potentially transformative approaches to graduate education. IGE projects are intended to generate the knowledge required for their customization, implementation, and broader adoption. While the Traineeship Track promotes building on the current knowledge base to develop comprehensive programs to effectively train STEM graduate students, the IGE Track supports testing of novel models or activities with high potential to enrich and extend the knowledge base on effective graduate education approaches.

The NRT program addresses both workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. For both tracks, strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, national laboratories, field stations, teaching and learning centers, informal science centers, and academic partners are encouraged.

NRT Traineeship Track Awards (14-15 anticipated; FY 2016) are expected to be up to five (5) years in duration with a total budget up to $3,000,000.

NRT IGE Track Awards (14-20 anticipated; FY 2016) are expected to be up to three (3) years in duration with a total budget between $300,000 and $500,000.


UW–Madison may submit up to four proposals – two Traineeship Track, and two Innovations in Graduate Education Track proposals

An individual may serve as Lead Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on only one proposal submitted to the NRT program per annual competition.


Internal Competition Application Instructions

Applications for Internal Review

To submit your application, follow this link:

Please include the following information:

  • The name and contact information for the Principal Investigator (PI)
  • List of internal and external participants and affiliations
  • Proposed Track – Traineeship or Innovations in Graduate Education
  • Proposed Theme/Priority Area – UtB, INFEWS, or other
  • 2 – 3 Page Description of the proposed project addressing the intent of the NSF NRT Program Solicitation.

Sponsor Deadlines

Letters of Intent are due to NSF by December 09, 2016. Applications are due to NSF by February 07, 2017.


Contact Dave Schuster (608) 263-7274 or email