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Tips for Predoctoral NIH F31 Applications

Review additional funding opportunities for PhD Fellowships or Postdoctoral Fellowships and plan to revise your proposal so you may submit your request to several fellowship opportunities. While we provide details for NIH proposals, note that most fellowships ask for similar information from applicants.

  • Obtain an eRA Commons account by completing this form and submitting to GW.
  • Complete and update an Individual Development Plan, described here. A useful approach is to use MyIDP.
  • Clinician investigators should also inventory their skills and prepare a clinical research IDP.

General Tips

Always read and respond to the most recent Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (Parent F31) F31 Funding Opportunity Announcement, Diversity F31 or Postdoctoral F32.

The Predoctoral Fellowship Toolbox Video and PDF describe the process for developing an NIH F31 or AHA pre-doctoral fellowship (PowerPoint provided Jan 30, 2018).

The Postdoctoral Fellowships Video and PDF describe the process for developing an NIH F32 or AHA postdoctoral fellowship (PowerPoint provided Mar 28, 2018).

For tips on creating additional sections of the F31 and F32, see the "What's in the Rest of Your Fellowship Application" Video and PDF.

  • Download A Practical Guide to Writing a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Grant (2014) by Andrew Hollenbach here, especially:
    • Chapter 3: Who Are You? The Fellowship Applicant. Prompts you to consider your 1) Biosketch, including personal statement, publications, scholastic performance; 2) Goals for Fellowship Training and Career; 3) Selection of Sponsor and Institute; 4) Previous Research Experience; 5) Letters of Recommendation 6) Respective Contributions, and 7) Activities under the award.
  • NIAID Fellowship Grants Useful compendium of tips
  • F31 Quick Start Guide

Review sample fellowship applications and summary statements. Additional samples can be found at the University of Alabama Grant Library.


Before you begin

Document Tips and Resources Completed?
Individual Development Plan (IDP) My IDP, AAAS Science Careers  
Clinician IDP CTSI-CN Mentoring Toolkit   
eRA Commons account GW form  

NIH F31 Checklist

Document Length Tips and Resources Completed?
Title of Project 1-2 lines Your qualifier exam  
Project Summary/Abstract  1 paragraph     
Project Narrative 2 or 3 sentences     
Respective Contributions  1 page    
Cover Letter with Ref. List  1 page Chapter 7, Hollenbach  
Specific Aims  1 page

Specific Aims;

Chapter 5, Hollenbach

Research Strategy  6 pages

Your qualifier exam;

Chapter 5, Hollenbach

Bibliography/Ref. Cited  No limit Your qualifier exam  
Background and Goals for Fellowship Training  Up to 6 pages  The Training and Career Development Plan (F31) updated  
Biosketch  Up to 5 pages   NIH Biosketch  
Selection of Sponsor and Institution  1 page Chapter 3, Hollenbach  
Facilities & Other Resources  From PI – up to 1 page  Cores, Facilities, and Other Resources 2018  
Resource Sharing Plan  From PI – up to 1 page     
Equipment From PI – up to 1 page     
Sponsor Biosketch  From PI – up to 5 page  Chapter 3, Hollenbach  
Sponsor/Co-Sponsor Info  From PI-up to 6 pages Chapter 3, Hollenbach  
Description of Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training  From DGS/ PI – Up to 2 pages  Contact Dr. Alison Hall (  
Responsible Conduct of Research  From DGS/PI – up to 1 pages  OVPR Responsible Conduct of Research;
BMSC 8217 Ethics and Grantsmanship
Vertebrate Animals (if necessary)  From DGS/PI - up to 1 page  GW Office of Animal Research  

Diversity Fellowships

Document Tips and Resources Completed?
Diversity fellowship may require additional sections    
Diversity supplement may require additional sections  Diversity Supplements