NSF CAREER Program
The CAREER program is a NSF-wide activity that provides 5 year awards to tenure-track Assistant Professors, and is one of the most popular and prestigious opportunities offered by the Foundation. Proposers are encouraged to communicate with the cognizant CAREER Program officer for their research area to discuss their CAREER proposal well in advance of the submission deadline. The current CAREER solicitation is NSF 22-586 and RAS strongly recommends that proposers read the entire solicitation.
Eligibility and Restrictions
CAREER program proposers must meet all of the following eligibility requirements as of the annual deadline:
- Hold a doctoral degree in a field supported by NSF;
- Be engaged in research in an area of science, engineering, or education supported by NSF;
- Hold at least a 50% tenure-track (or tenure-track-equivalent) position as an assistant professor (or equivalent title);
- Be untenured; and
- Have not previously received a CAREER award. (Prior or concurrent Federal support for other types of awards for non-duplicative research does not preclude eligibility.)
For a position to be considered a tenure-track-equivalent position, it must meet all of the following requirements:
- the employee has a continuing appointment that is expected to last the five years of a CAREER grant;
- the appointment has substantial research and educational responsibilities;
- the proposed project relates to the employee's career goals and job responsibilities as well as to the mission of the department or organization.
As stated in the Proposal Preparation Instructions, for non-tenure-track faculty, the Departmental Letter must affirm that the investigator's appointment is at an early-career level equivalent to pre-tenure status, and the Departmental Letter must clearly and convincingly demonstrate how the faculty member's appointment satisfies all the above requirements of tenure-track equivalency.
Faculty members who are Associate Professors or in equivalent appointments, with or without tenure, are not eligible for the CAREER program.
Special Proposal Preparation Requirements
CAREER proposals are subject to all of the standard requirements for proposals described in the MIT's NSF Proposal Preparation Checklist. Please also note the following additional requirements:
- 2023 deadline is July 26, 2023
- Title must begin with “CAREER:”
- No Co-PIs are permitted.
- The minimum budget is $400,000 including indirect costs. Proposals to the Biological Sciences, Engineering, or Polar Programs areas have a minimum budget of $500,000. Most NSF programs only award CAREER budgets close to the minimum amount.
- The proposal must include well integrated research and educational components.
- Provide References Cited in support of both research and education aspects of the CAREER proposal.
- The Biographical Sketch should include both research and education activities and accomplishments.
- A letter from the applicant’s department head must be included.
Departmental Letter Requirements
Please note, if a CAREER award is transferred to MIT from another organization, MIT must provide a new Departmental Letter to the NSF with the transfer request.
The Departmental Letter should be no more than 2 pages in length and include the department head's name and title below the signature. The letter should contain the following elements:
- A statement to the effect that the PI is eligible for the CAREER program. For non-tenure-track faculty, the Departmental Letter must affirm that the investigator's appointment is at an early-career level equivalent to pre-tenure status, pursuant to the eligibility criteria specified above. Further, for nontenure-track faculty, the Departmental Letter must clearly and convincingly demonstrate how the faculty member satisfies all the requirements of tenure-track equivalency as defined in the eligibility criteria specified in this solicitation.
- An indication that the PI's proposed CAREER research and education activities are supported by and advance the educational and research goals of the department and the organization, and that the department is committed to the support and professional development of the PI; and
- A description of a) the relationship between the CAREER project, the PI's career goals and job responsibilities, and the mission of his/her department/organization, and b) the ways in which the department head (or equivalent) will ensure the appropriate mentoring of the PI, in the context of the PI's career development and his/her efforts to integrate research and education throughout the period of the award and beyond.