Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Pre-doctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research

The primary objective of this funding opportunity announcement is to help ensure that diverse pools of highly trained scientists will be available in appropriate research areas to carry out the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral, health services, or clinical research agenda.

Sponsor: NIH


The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Predoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research will provide up to five years of support for research training leading to the Ph.D. or equivalent research degree, the combined M.D./Ph.D. degree; or another formally combined professional degree and research doctoral degree in  biomedical, behavioral, health services, or clinical sciences. 

These fellowships will enhance the diversity of the biomedical, behavioral, health services, and clinical research labor force in the United States by providing opportunities for academic institutions to identify and recruit students from diverse population groups to seek graduate degrees in health-related research and apply for this fellowship.  The overall goal of this program is to increase the number of scientists from diverse population groups who are prepared to pursue careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, clinical, or health services research.


For the purpose of this announcement, institutions are encouraged to identify candidates who will increase diversity on a national or institutional basis. As discussed, the NIH is particularly interested in encouraging the recruitment and retention of the following classes of candidates:

A. Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis. In addition, it is recognized that under-representation can vary from setting to setting and individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be convincingly demonstrated to be underrepresented by the grantee institution are eligible for support under this program.

B. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

C. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are defined as:

1. Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. These thresholds are based on family size; published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index; and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels at For individuals from low income backgrounds, the institution must be able to demonstrate that such candidates have qualified for Federal disadvantaged assistance or they have received any of the following student loans: Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL), Loans for Disadvantaged Student Program, or they have received scholarships from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need. 

2. Individuals who come from a social, cultural, or educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that have demonstrably and recently directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career. Eligibility related to a disadvantaged background is most applicable to high school and perhaps to undergraduate candidates, but would be more difficult to justify for individuals beyond that level of academic achievement.

By the time of award, the individual applicant applying for the Kirschstein-NRSA  fellowship award must be a citizen or non-citizen national of the United States, or must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for Permanent Residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Alien Registration Receipt Card I-551, or other legal verification of such status). Non-citizen nationals are generally persons born in outlying possessions of the United States (i.e., American Samoa and Swains Island). Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible. Individuals may apply for the F31 in advance of admission to the United States as a Permanent Resident recognizing that no award will be made until legal verification of Permanent Resident status is provided.

An applicant must have a baccalaureate degree and be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. or equivalent research degree program (e.g., Eng.D., D.N.Sc., Dr. P.H., D.S.W., Pharm.D., Psy.D., Sc.D.) , a formally combined M.D./Ph.D. program, or other combined professional doctorate/research Ph.D. graduate program (e.g., D.D.S./Ph.D.) in the biomedical, behavioral, health services, or clinical sciences, or have been accepted by and agreed to enroll in such a graduate program in the academic year for which funds are being sought.  With the exception of the combined degree programs described above, the F31 may not be used to support studies leading to the M.D., D.D.S., or other clinical, health-professional training (e.g., D.C., D.M.D., D.N.P., D.O., D.P.M., D.V.M., N.D., O.D.,).

How to Apply

The fellowship application instructions are available in an interactive format. For further assistance contact:

Tel: (301) 435-0714