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Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER)


The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that supports junior faculty within the context of their overall career development. It combines in a single program the support of research and education of the highest quality and in the broadest sense. This premier program emphasizes the importance the Foundation places on the early development of academic careers dedicated to stimulating the discovery process in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and enthusiastic learning. Each year NSF selects nominees for Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from among the first-year awardees supported by the CAREER Program. PECASE awards recognize outstanding scientists and engineers who are in the early stages in their careers, and show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge.

Eligibility Criteria - By the July deadline, the PI must:

  • hold a Ph.D. in a field supported by NSF;
  • be untenured;
  • be employed in a tenure-track or tenure-track equivalent appointment as an assistant professor (or equivalent); and
  • have competed no more than 2 times previously in the CAREER program.

By October 1 following the July deadline for the submission of CAREER proposals, the PI must:

  • be employed in a tenure-track position (or tenure-track-equivalent position);
  • be an assistant professor (or equivalent title); and
  • be at an institution in the U.S., its territories, or possessions, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, that awards degrees in a field supported by NSF, or is non-profit and non-degree-granting, such as a museum, observatory, or research lab.

Award Size - Lower limit: $400K for all awards except those made by BIO. Lower limit for BIO awards is $500K. Upper limit: None specified. Budgets are prepared in accordance with NSF organizational practices and the scope of the project. No matching funds required.

Award Duration - 5 years.

GEO CAREER Competition

More than 1800 CAREER proposals are received and 350-400 awards are made annually. Each year NSF selects nominees for Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the pool of new CAREER awardees. The Directorate for Geosciences receives between 70 and 90 proposals per competition and has funded about 20% of them (success rate varies by Division and by competition). GEO proposals represent only 4-5% of NSF’s total. Because of the low submission rate, GEO is only allowed to submit one PECASE nomination per year.

Review Process:

  • ATM – Ad Hoc reviews for Science and Education components;
  • OCE – Ad Hoc reviews and panel for science component; Education & Human Resources panel for the Education component;
  • EAR – Ad Hoc reviews and panel for Science and Education components.

Traits of some successful CAREER proposals:

  • Strong intellectual merit on the scientific and education components of the proposal;
  • Creative and integrative education component that includes awareness of the context in the field of education (i.e., references, examples of past results with the approach, grass roots tests);
  • Show of commitment to education outside the normal role of an academic professor;
  • Emphasis on integration of science objectives with the education of underrepresented group and/or non-traditional partnerships with individuals outside the PI’s own institution.

Abstracts of funded CAREER awards can be found at:

Target Dates and Deadlines

For Geosciences (GEO) proposals, deadlines are: July 22, 2004 (for Fiscal Year 2005) For other Directorate deadlines, see program solicitation.

Program Contact(s)

Stephen Reid
Division of Atmospheric Sciences
Phone: 703.292.8527
Fax: 703.292.9022

Lisa Rom
Division of Ocean Sciences
Phone: 703.292.7709
Fax: 703.292.9085

Contact Program Officer in Your Research Area
Division of Earth Sciences

Please see additional program information.


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