Resources for Applicants

Many NHFP fellows have found it helpful during the application process to get advice from past fellows. This tends to give an advantage to applicants from institutions that already have a strong track record of winning fellowships. We seek to make the application process more transparent and equitable by providing application resources that are accessible to early career astronomers around the world, with the particular aim of improving the representation of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) scholars and students from MSIs (minority-serving institutions). We note that in 2022 the program began using a new grading rubric.

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Example application materials from past NHFP fellows

Many past fellows have kindly volunteered to make their application materials publicly available in order to make the application process more equitable. This idea has been inspired in part by websites with repositories of successful NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program applications, such as the one hosted by Alex Lang.

In the table below, we have provided links to the full application if available, or to individual portions of the application (the research proposal, statement on previous/current research, CV, and publications list) that the fellow has chosen to share. For organizational purposes, we have labeled each application with one of the seven current NHFP Primary Science categories. These are not necessarily the categories that were used at time of application.

As you read these examples, please keep the following in mind:

  • The inclusion of an application in the bank does not imply the author's endorsement of any other content on this site.

  • Please do not repost or redistribute these application materials, in whole or in part, unless you've obtained permission separately from the original author. You are welcome to share links to the original application bank.

  • Reading old applications is useful for understanding how to write clearly and persuasively, but it is unacceptable to copy text, figures, or research project ideas. The content of your application must be original. It may be helpful to read applications from outside your field or that are slightly older so that you can focus more on how the application is put together rather than on the details of the specific projects.

  • The application format and review criteria have evolved over the years, so you should consult the most recent Announcement of Opportunity on the official NHFP website to ensure that your application conforms with current requirements. In particular, note that the NASA fellowships emphasized connections with specific NASA missions prior to 2008, and the Hubble, Einstein (Fermi/Chandra), and Sagan (Michelson) fellowships were awarded separately prior to 2018. Furthermore, prior to 2021, the previous/current research and proposed research were described in separate statements, whereas there is now a single combined research overview statement.

  • These applications do not necessarily represent the full breadth of research areas supported by the fellowship program or the only possible successful strategies. You can read recent NHFP press releases to learn more about the range of projects and backgrounds of recent fellows.

If you are a current or former fellow and would like to share your application materials, please e-mail (contributions can be anonymous and/or redacted). We'd like to make sure that our examples are up-to-date and come from as broad a cross-section of fellows as possible.

If you wish to sort or filter the application table, you can access this Google Spreadsheet.

Workshops on applying for the NHFP

In August 2021, we held free 90-minute online workshops (open to any prospective applicants from around the world) that provided an overview of the NHFP application process and described strategies for writing strong applications. The workshop included an overview presentation, a breakout session discussing past examples of successful application, and a Q&A with a panel of fellows.

Slides (revised for consistency with the 2021 Announcement of Opportunity)

Extended Q&A

Information about talk opportunities for early career astronomers

While giving departmental talks is not generally a formal part of the postdoc application process, it can be useful for increasing the visibility of your work, gaining practice in communicating your science to a broad audience, getting a sense of what the people at an institution are like, and forming new collaborations. We are crowd-sourcing a list of information about talk opportunities, both virtual and in-person, that are suitable for graduate students and postdocs. You can request to edit the spreadsheet if you would like to add a talk series or revise an entry. We also strongly encourage you to make the same talk series information clear and easy to find on your own department's website. This spreadsheet is intended as a resource for all junior astronomers, not just those applying for the NHFP fellowship. (Note as well that not all of the institutions in the spreadsheet are eligible as NHFP host institutions).

Getting feedback on your application draft

Update: Thanks to everyone who participated! We are no longer accepting responses for the 2021 NHFP application season so that we can ensure that we give feedback before the deadline to everyone who has filled out the form.

For the 2021 application cycle, we piloted a program for people in the process of drafting NHFP applications to get advice on how to strengthen their applications from current and former fellows. We aim to continue providing support during the application process in future cycles.

Based on our experiences with the feedback program, we compiled a set of tips for future applicants.