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Graduate Research Fellowship in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Grants to USA IHEs for STEM Doctoral
Research Related to Criminal Justice

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

03/12/18 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories IHEs to support STEM doctoral candidates to carry out research related to the criminal justice system. Applicants are advised to verify or create the required registrations well in advance of the deadline date. This program supports graduate-level research in science, technology, engineering or mathematics that provides solutions to prevent and control crime, and ensure the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States.


The Graduate Research Fellowship in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (GRF-STEM) program provides awards to accredited academic institutions to support graduate research leading to doctoral degrees in topic areas that are relevant to preventing and controlling crime, and ensuring the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States. Applicant academic institutions sponsoring doctoral students are eligible to apply only if:

1. The doctoral student’s degree program is in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) discipline; and

2. The student’s proposed dissertation research has demonstrable implications for addressing the challenges of preventing or controlling crime and/or the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States.

Program-Specific Information:

Degree-granting academic institutions are encouraged to sponsor outstanding and promising doctoral students whose dissertation research has direct implications for preventing and controlling crime, and/or ensuring the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States.

Academic institutions sponsoring doctoral students whose disciplines are in the social and behavioral sciences should consider submitting their applications under the forthcoming “NIJ Graduate Research Fellowship Program in the Social and Behavioral Sciences” (GRF-SBS) solicitation.

Awards are anticipated to be made to successful applicant institutions in the form of grants to cover fellowships for the sponsored doctoral students. Each fellowship provides up to three years of support usable within a five-year period. For each year of support, NIJ provides the degree-granting institution a stipend of $35,000 usable toward the student’s salary and related costs, and up to $15,000 to cover the student’s tuition and fees, research expenses, and related costs (see Section B. Federal Award Information). The award will be made for the entire cumulative fellowship amount (up to three years of funding). Although the award is made for the full amount, after the first year each annual funding increment is withheld pending annual demonstration of continued enrollment and adequate progress toward the degree. This is a change from program policy in previous fiscal years; new fellows awarded in FY 2018 will no longer be required to submit full application packages for annual supplemental funding.

Successful applicants must demonstrate clearly how the proposed dissertation research will advance criminal justice practice and/or policy in the United States. Proposals addressing one or more of the following six areas are particularly encouraged:
-Reducing crime, particularly violent crime (not just related to policing)
-Protecting police officers and other public safety personnel
-Issues concerning the opiate abuse epidemic
-Victimization (specifically with respect to human trafficking)
-Supporting prosecutors in their efforts to meet their mission
-Illegal immigration issues

Applicants contemplating research relevant to the forensic sciences may consider the problem areas highlighted by NIJ’s Forensic Science Technology Working Group (TWG), which identifies current technology challenges encountered in operational forensic science laboratories. Additional research needs of the forensic science community can be found at the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) website.

Applicants may also consider NIJ’s Science and Technology Objectives for the application of technology across law enforcement, courts, corrections, and forensic science communities. Under an NIJ cooperative agreement, the RAND Corporation publishes assessments of current and future high-priority criminal justice technology needs across a range of topic areas, which may be consulted for further guidance.

While the above priorities are provided as possible focus areas for proposed research, they should not be considered as limiting the range of eligible research. All eligible applicants proposing research in STEM fields of study with demonstrated relevance to criminal justice practice and/or policy in the United States are invited to apply.


The ultimate goal of this solicitation is to increase the pool of researchers who are engaged in providing STEM-based solutions to problems relevant to criminal justice policy and practice in the United States. Through the GRF-STEM program, NIJ supports research by promising doctoral students as they train to become the creators of future innovation. This is consistent with the following national research and development (R&D) priorities:

Supporting Innovative Early-Stage Research:
The groundwork for the development and eventual commercialization of new technologies is laid by basic and early-stage applied research. These are the stages of inquiry typically undertaken in STEM doctoral dissertation research, which is the specific focus of the GRF-STEM program. Support of graduate student research is a particularly cost-effective way to promote the generation of potentially transformative knowledge and technology.

Developing a Future-Focused Workforce:
The training of the American workforce through STEM education, a critical component of maintaining American competitiveness, is a national priority. This program supports the training of young scientists capable of meeting future science and technology workforce demands. NIJ’s GRF-STEM seeks to engage these emerging researchers to help meet the needs of America’s criminal justice practitioners, while simultaneously developing their skills to contribute broadly to America’s R&D enterprise.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 150303

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

NIJ expects to make up to 10 awards.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards will be up to $150,000 each.

Each year of support includes a $35,000 allowance usable toward a salary/stipend for the student and related costs, and up to $15,000 to cover the student’s tuition and fees, research expenses, and related costs. The $35,000 allowance for salary/stipend and related costs may include fringe benefits (if applicable) and health insurance, at the applicant institution’s discretion. Under this solicitation, research expenses and related costs may include any combination of the doctoral student’s tuition, student fees, project costs, professional society membership fees, or conference travel, among other allowed expenses during the award period of performance.

Term of Contract:

Awards will be made for periods of performance of up to five years, while providing up to three years of funding within that timespan.

Although the full amount is awarded upfront, after the first year each annual funding increment is withheld pending receipt and approval by NIJ.

Applicants should propose an award start date of January 1, 2019. Although NIJ anticipates that funds awarded under this GRF-STEM solicitation will be made available on January 1, 2019, the applicant academic institution and doctoral student are cautioned not to anticipate the availability of funds for meeting any necessary or required expenses for the 2019 Winter Quarter or Spring Semester until the requirements stipulated under Doctoral Student Eligibility have been met in full.

The total period of performance of an award will not exceed five years. The applicant’s budget narrative and budget detail worksheet should reflect the entire proposed project timeline of up to three years of funding, in discrete 12-month increments.


Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicant Information:

The applicant under this solicitation will be a degree-granting academic institution in the United States or its territories. To be eligible, the academic institution of record must be fully accredited by one of the regional institutional accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. An applicant institution sponsoring a doctoral student is eligible to apply only if the doctoral student satisfies the Doctoral Student Eligibility Requirements. Applications from students who apply as individuals will be removed from consideration.

The academic institution’s institution-wide research office (e.g., office of sponsored research) must complete and submit an application electronically using (see What an Application Should Include). If allowed by the applicant institution, the sponsored doctoral student should be identified as the project’s principal investigator.

The applicant must demonstrate that the sponsored graduate student is enrolled in a qualifying doctoral degree program at the time of application. This should take the form of a document from the Office of the Registrar, or an equivalent university- or college-wide office with the authority to verify status. A transcript may be accepted if it clearly indicates the student’s current full-time enrollment in the qualifying doctoral degree program.

Doctoral Student Eligibility Requirements:

The graduate student must:
1. Be enrolled full-time in a doctoral degree program in a STEM discipline at the eligible academic institution; and
2. Propose a dissertation research topic that is relevant to addressing the challenges of crime, and/or the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States (see What an Application Should Include).

The doctoral student need not have a dissertation committee at the time the application is submitted, nor is it necessary for the student’s dissertation topic to have been accepted by the committee. However, if the application is selected for award, grant funds will be withheld until the applicant academic institution submits proof that the student’s dissertation topic has been accepted by the committee and that it is substantively the same as that proposed in the application.

If the doctoral student has an approved topic at the time of application, then it should be noted in a statement of support from the doctoral student’s dissertation committee chair (see Dissertation Committee Chair Requirements). If the doctoral student’s topic has not been approved at the time of application, then the expected dates by which the doctoral student will meet this requirement should be indicated in the project timeline (see “Proposed project timeline and expected milestones” under Appendices). In addition, the doctoral student’s faculty advisor, department chair, departmental director of graduate studies, or an individual with similar responsibilities must submit a statement of support at the time of application. That statement of support should generally follow the outline provided below for the statement of support from the dissertation committee chair, including all relevant elements.

Even though an award may be made, access to award funds will be withheld until the required documentation is received and approved by the NIJ Program Office. The applicant academic institution and the doctoral student are cautioned not to anticipate the availability of fellowship funds for meeting any necessary or required expenses until the requirements stipulated above have been met in full. Awarded applicants may receive fellowship funding only while the student is actively enrolled in the doctoral degree program and carrying out research for the dissertation identified in the applicant’s funding application.

Human subjects protection paperwork including Institutional Review Board (IRB) documentation and a completed privacy certificate are not required at the time of application. If awarded, and if applicable, funds will be withheld until submission and NIJ approval of any required Human Subjects Protection paperwork and/or a completed Privacy Certificate. The Privacy Certificate must be signed by the academic institution’s IRB chair.

Dissertation Committee Chair Requirements:

Although a fellowship may be awarded based on consideration of a letter of support from the faculty advisor, department chair, departmental director of graduate studies, or individual with similar responsibilities, the NIJ Program Office must receive a signed statement of support from the sponsored doctoral student’s dissertation committee chair prior to authorizing the disbursement of award funds (applicants can expect to see conditions to that effect attached to any such award). If the dissertation committee has accepted the student’s topic at the time of application, that statement of support must be submitted as part of the application. If the topic has not been accepted by the time of application, it must be submitted as soon as is reasonable after the topic has been approved. The approved dissertation topic must remain substantively similar to that initially proposed.

The statement of support should:
-Evaluate the doctoral student’s proposed project.
-Describe the current status of the proposed work.
-Outline any other outstanding work, academic or otherwise, toward completion of the degree.
-Verify the date on which the dissertation research project is expected to be ready to begin.
-Comment on the student’s potential to complete the dissertation successfully.
-Indicate that the doctoral student has his/her full support.
-Describe the dissertation committee chair’s role in monitoring the project and present evidence of both the department’s and the dissertation committee chair’s abilities to mentor doctoral candidates through the completion of their degrees.
-Verify that the dissertation committee chair will review and approve all progress reports prior to their submission to NIJ.

An application that does not include the statement of support from (1) the dissertation committee chair; or (2) the doctoral student’s faculty advisor, department chair, departmental director of graduate studies, or individual with similar responsibilities will be removed from consideration.

Current GRF-STEM fellows should not apply to this funding opportunity. Annual funding supplements for current fellows awarded in previous fiscal years will continue to be processed as described in the solicitations under which they were originally awarded.

Pre-proposal Conference:

NIJ will host a webinar to discuss this solicitation on February 1, 2018 from 1:00 - 2:00 PM EST.

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants must register with prior to submitting an application.

A DUNS number is required to apply. A DUNS number is usually received within 1-2 business days.

All applicants for OJP awards (other than individuals) must maintain current registrations in the SAM database. SAM registration and renewal can take as long as 10 business days to complete (2 more weeks to acquire an EIN).

An application cannot be successfully submitted in until receives the SAM registration information. Once the SAM registration/renewal is complete, the information transfer from SAM to can take as long as 48 hours. OJP recommends that the applicant register or renew registration with SAM as early as possible.

All applications are due by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on March 12, 2018.

OJP urges applicants to submit applications at least 72 hours prior to the application due date, to allow time for the applicant to receive validation messages or rejection notifications from, and to correct in a timely fashion any problems that may have caused a rejection notification.

NIJ anticipates that award notifications will be made on or before September 30, 2018.

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register for the February 1 webinar:

For technical assistance with submitting an application, contact the Customer Support Hotline:
-Phone: 800-518-4726 / 606-545-5035,

For assistance with any other requirements of this solicitation, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Response Center:
-Toll-free at 1-800-851-3420
-TTY: 301-240-6310 (hearing impaired only)
-Fax: 301-240-5830
-Web Chat:

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

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