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Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31)

Frequently Asked Questions

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The NCI Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31) Award supports promising doctoral candidates who will perform dissertation research and training for a PhD degree in a scientific health-related field relevant to the mission of the NCI during the tenure of the award. Applicants for the F31 must be candidates for the PhD degree and must be at the dissertation research stage of training at the time of award.

NCI requires a clear cancer focus in graduate research training and gives funding priority to applications whose sponsor and/or co-sponsor have active cancer-related R01, or R01-like, peer-reviewed research grants.  For the NCI F31 Award, R01-like research funding includes peer-reviewed research grants from other federal sources and private foundations with a duration of at least 3 years with a minimum of $150,000 direct costs per year.  Grants under a no-cost extension do not qualify.

Note: The details on this page are for informational purposes only. Please read and follow all requirements and instructions in the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) and the Table of IC-Specific Information linked therein before applying for an award. Application review information is described in the funding opportunity. If you have any questions before submitting your application, please contact the relevant NCI program staff listed at the end of this page. 

NCI-specific guidance on overlap between F31 fellowship applications and the sponsor’s pending/active grants: The F31 Research Training Plan should be developed in collaboration between the sponsor and F31 candidate. The F31 project can be within the overall scope of the active sponsor’s research awards. However, NCI expects the F31 candidate to make significant intellectual contributions to the project and write the Research Training Plan. There should be no text duplication or substantial duplication of the scientific aims, and the candidate ’s application should propose a scientific research question or approach that is distinct from the specific aims of the sponsor’s pending or active research grants.

NCI will not support both a fellowship award and an active or pending research grant that propose substantially the same research.

For more complete information, please refer to the Program Announcement PA-23-272 (F31 Individual Predoctoral Fellowship) and/or contact the program staff.

Applicant Eligibility


At the time of the award, the candidate must be:

  • a United States citizen,
  • or a non-citizen national,
  • or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and possess an Alien Registration Receipt Card (1-151 or 1-551) or some other verification of legal admission as a permanent resident.

The candidate does not need citizenship or a green card to apply. Citizenship or green card is needed at the time of award issuance.

Foreign Nationals with Student Visas Not eligible for this award
Degree/Academic Appointment Predoctoral Fellows
Geographic Location F31 Fellows may request support for training abroad; clear scientific justification is required, including the reasons why the facilities, the sponsor, and/or other aspects of the proposed experience are more appropriate than training in a domestic setting.
Effort Level/ Commitment At least 40 hours per week, full-time effort, to the training program
Duration of the Award Up to 5 years; individual fellowship awards are generally not renewable; consult NIH staff to obtain advice regarding submission of a renewal application for additional fellowship support


Financial Support

Tuition, Fees, Training-Related Expenses and Health Insurance

Tuition and Fees NCI will pay 60% of the combined amount requested for tuition and fees up to $16,000 per year.
Training-Related Expenses and Health Insurance

NCI will pay up to $4,750 annually to help defray other research training expenses, such as: 

  • Health insurance (self-only or family, as applicable)
  • Research supplies
  • Equipment
  • Travel to scientific meetings

How to Apply

Required Application Instructions

  • Applications must be submitted electronically
  • It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Fellowship Application Guide, as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. of the Program Announcement.
  • When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions.
  • Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not be accepted for review.

For assistance with application submission, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and/or contact eRA Commons Help Desk/ Contact Center.

Application Receipt Dates and Review Schedule

Receipt Cycle  Receipt Date: New, Resubmission Initial Review Date Council Review Date Earliest Possible Start Date*
1 April 8 June/July September/October December
2 August 8 October/November January/February April
3 December 8 February/March May/June July

*Start dates are determined by the availability of NCI funds and may not occur until well after the earliest possible start date.

Applications are due by 5 pm local time.

When a standard submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

Review and Selection Process

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) review applications for completeness and for conformance to all eligibility requirements and special provisions and requirements. Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant without further consideration.

For review criteria for the F31 grant mechanism, see the Section V. Review Information of the Program Announcement.

Reminders for Awardees including Changes in Project and Terminations

1. Changes in the Project: Individual NCI F31 fellowship awards are made for training at a specific institution under the guidance of a particular sponsor. Prior approval by NCI is required for a transfer of the award to another institution, a change in sponsor, or a significant project change. If the primary sponsor plans to be absent for a continuous period of more than 3 months, an interim sponsor must be named by the institution and approved in writing by NCI.

2. Termination Requirements:

F31 awardees are required to submit a Termination Notice either when:

  • all institutional dual doctoral degree requirements have been completed; or
  • the F31 project end date listed on the Notice of Award (NoA) has arrived (whichever comes first).

F31 awardees are required to submit a Termination Notice within 30 days of the conclusion of award funding.


NCI Staff Contacts

For additional information regarding policies and/or guidance in preparing an application, contact:

For assistance with xTrain, contact:

For technical issues with xTrain, contact the eRA Service Desk

For information regarding fiscal and/or budget issues, contact:

For information regarding referral and review issues, contact:

  • Referral Officer
    Division of Extramural Activities
    Phone: 240-276-6390

Form Correction Made for All NIH Fellowship Opportunities

  • Updated: