Getting Started

What we fund

Broadly, we fund:

  • Basic research and education across all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except the medical sciences.
  • Use-inspired research with the potential to create products and solutions that improve people's lives.
  • Research partnerships between colleges and universities, industry, nonprofits, government and other organizations within the U.S. and across the globe.
  • Education and training programs in science and engineering that attract individuals from diverse backgrounds and from every sector — from pre-K through graduate school and beyond.
  • Infrastructure and state-of-the-art tools for research, including supercomputers, ground-based telescopes, research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic, long-term ecological sites and engineering centers.

NSF encourages interdisciplinary and convergent approaches to research and education, as well as activities with the potential to lead to transformative discoveries.

How we announce funding opportunities

NSF announces its funding opportunities on the NSF website and on

NSF's funding opportunities can take several forms. Click on the headings to learn more about each:

NSF encourages the submission of proposals to specific program areas of interest. These can take a more general form as program descriptions and program announcements, or a more focused form as solicitations. Solicitations normally only apply for a limited period of time, while program descriptions/announcements are longer lasting.

Dear Colleague Letters are used to advertise opportunities for supplements to existing awards and to announce NSF's interest in receiving proposals in specific topical areas.

NSF uses broad agency announcements to invite the submission of proposals for some of its use-inspired research and innovation priorities.

Learn more about the different types of NSF funding opportunities in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) I.C.

How to find the right funding opportunity

Use the NSF Funding Search

NSF posts its active funding opportunities on the NSF Funding Search page. You can search opportunities by keyword or filter results by a specific NSF directorate or division you're interested in and other criteria.

Subscribe to email alerts

Subscribe to NSF's email updates to receive information on NSF funding opportunities and updates in the topic areas you choose.

Explore funded projects

Search NSF's database of previously funded projects to find projects in similar areas to yours and see which NSF programs funded them.

Visit NSF's directorate pages

NSF is organized into directorates reflecting the major areas of science and engineering funded by the foundation. On their pages you can find additional information about programs they fund.

Explore NSF's initiatives

NSF's initiatives fund activities across a range of disciplines, focusing on challenges like advancing diversity in STEM and accelerating the translation of knowledge into tangible benefits to society.

Can't find an NSF program that fits your project idea?

Learn how to submit an unsolicited proposal to NSF when there is no natural "home" for it in one of NSF’s existing programs.

How to contact us

Have a question about a funding opportunity? NSF offers regular webinars, virtual office hours and other opportunities to interact with its program staff.

NSF staff often hold informational sessions, such as webinars and virtual office hours, where they provide information about a funding opportunity and answer questions.


Visit NSF's events page to see upcoming informational sessions, and subscribe to NSF's email alerts to receive emails about some upcoming sessions.

Frequently asked questions

1. Who can submit proposals to NSF?

NSF welcomes proposals on behalf of all qualified scientists, engineers and educators. Proposals are usually officially submitted to NSF by the organization that employs the proposer.

Organizations that are eligible to submit proposals to NSF include institutions of higher education; nonprofit, nonacademic organizations; and tribal nations. For-profit organizations, state and local governments and other federal agencies may be eligible to apply, depending upon the specific funding opportunity.

See PAPPG I.E for the full details on who may submit proposals to NSF. And always carefully read an NSF funding opportunity to make sure you are eligible to apply to it.

2. When can I submit a proposal to NSF?

Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time. Some program solicitations, however, establish due dates for proposal submission. Each NSF funding opportunity will state when proposals are accepted.

Due dates can take the form of target dates, deadline dates, or submission windows. See PAPPG I.F to learn more about these types of due dates and what they mean for when you can submit your proposal.