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NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship and Diversity Fellowship

NOTE: If you are applying for other opportunities than F31, click here

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) invests nearly $32.3 billion annually in medical research, making it the world's largest public funder of biomedical research.

The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship, is one of the many funding opportunities offered by NIH. This fellowship provides Predoctoral students the opportunity to pursue individualized, mentored research training. 

Please note that each applicant is responsible for determining their own individual eligibility for any fellowship. This includes but is not limited to reviewing which agencies are participating in a funding opportunity announcement. Each applicant should also be aware of the provisions of the award and the requirements of the opportunity, which can be seen and reviewed throughout this page and the hyperlink websites. 

At a Glance

  • Students may apply for up to five years of funding. Learn more here
  • The award includes a stipend ($25,836 a year) and institutional allowance
  • If awarded, NIH will pay for up to 60 percent of the requested institutional tuition and fees 

Determining Which On-Campus Office To Apply Through

An application will be processed through Graduate Division if the applicant is a single-degree seeking student enrolled in a graduate program. However, students enrolled in a professional degree program (i.e. PharmD, PharmD/PhD, or MD/PhD program) will need to contact Health Sciences Sponsored Project Pre-Award Office (HSSPPO). 

If an applicant meets the above criteria and the submission requires an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) to approve, sign, or submit an application on the applicant’s behalf, please route the application to

New PA Numbers, now using forms G

  • PA-21-051Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (Parent F31)
  • PA-21-052: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Parent F31-Diversity)


US citizens, nationals, and permanent residents enrolled in a PhD program or equivalent research degree are eligible to apply.

The applicant must be at the dissertation research stage of training at the time of award and must show evidence of high academic performance in the sciences, and commitment to a career as an independent research scientist.

Students matriculated in a dual-degree program (e.g. MD/PhD, DO/PhD, DDS/PhD, or DVM/PhD) who seek support for both dissertation research training and clinical training are not eligible. These students should look at the NIH F30 program announcement as a potential funding opportunity. 

For more information, see Section III of the F31 program announcement (see links above).

Your sponsor must also meet UCSD’s Principal Investigator eligibility requirement. Work with your department staff to determine whether your sponsor holds one of the appropriate title codes.

Campus Contact

The Graduate Fellowship Advisor will help coordinate the submission of the proposal. Use the Google Form (the Intent to Apply form) to notify the Graduate Fellowship Advisor that you will be applying for the August cycle of NIH.

NEW THIS CYCLE: If you have questions for the Graduate Fellowship Advisor, please use the Services and Support portal to submit a ticket. For more detailed information on how to submit a ticket, visit the Graduate Division Collab.

Internal Deadlines

A note about internal deadlines. These deadlines are designed to keep you on track for a timely and fully reviewed submission to NIH. Graduate Division cannot guarantee on-time submission or a thorough review of applications submitted after these deadlines. The closer an application is submitted to the agency deadline, the more cursory the review will become. We will try our best to be accommodating, however, not meeting these deadlines may result in errors that both the applicant and the Graduate Fellowship Advisor are unable to fix by the agency deadline. 

NIH F31 April Cycle



Type of Deadline What's Due
March 17, 2021 by 11:59pm Intent to apply

Submit UCSD NIH Applicant Intake Form (Google Form)

If you do not fill out this form, we will not know that you are applying. This form is extremely important!

March 29, 2021 at 11:59 pm Internal Deadline

Create/Update your ticket on Services & Support (to the Graduate Fellowship Advisor) stating your application is ready for review.

Update the Submission Status on ASSIST to "Ready for Submission." This will trigger an email notification.

Application must be in final draft form.

Agency Deadline: April 8, 2021, 5:00 p.m. PST

Check here for NIH deadlines

NIH Deadlines are standard, when the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline is moved to the following business day.


Before the intake form deadline

  • Before the student submits an intake form, both the applicant and their advisor mentor should be actively working on the student's research.
  • Once the decision has been made by the mentor and the student to pursue an application for the NIH F31, the student begins application in ASSIST. 
  • With the assistance of the mentor/advisor, the student contacts the fund manager to help create a Kuali record for the application. The Kuali record number may be created at this time.
  • The student submits an intake form to the Graduate Fellowship Advisor.

Once the intake form is submitted until the first internal deadline

  • The student is working under the direction of the mentor to draft and work on the scientific documents of the proposal. This includes contacting referees and providing instructions on how to submit their letters of recommendation.
  • The fund manager creates the Kuali record, however, it is preferred to have the Kuali record created before the intake form is submitted. 
  • With the help of the NIH F31 UCSD guide, students begin filling out the application in ASSIST and drafting attachments (the NIH application portal).
  • Applicants may reach out to their department coordinators for support in gathering logistical documentation.
  • If any questions come up, students may contact 
  • On the day of the 1st internal deadline, students will email to let them know that their application is ready to be reviewed. The application must be in good draft form, with attachments uploaded. 

After the internal deadline until the final internal deadline

  • The Graduate Fellowship Advisor will review the application in ASSIST and provide revisions and feedback to the applicant. This is a logistical review, not a scientific content review. The goal of the review is to catch any issues that the application system would flag as an error.
  • Students can continue working with their mentor to finalize their documents. 
  • The Graduate Fellowship Advisor will review the Kuali record and provide any revisions to the fund manager if need be.
  • Students apply the revisions from the Graduate Fellowship Advisor to their ASSIST application and send an email to to notify that their application is in final form

Final internal deadline until the agency deadline

  • The Graduate Fellowship Advisor will review the application once more to ensure that all errors were addressed and will perform a validation check on the application.
  • The Graduate Fellowship Advisor will finalize the KR record.
  • If the application is in final form and the validation check does not show any errors, the Graduate Fellowship Advisor will email the student and ask them to update their application status to "ready for submission."
  • The Graduate Fellowship Advisor will then submit the application to the agency.
  • The sooner the application is submitted, the sooner we can check if the reference letters were attached properly to the application. 

How to Apply

Application Process

Submitting an NIH F31 proposal is a multifaceted process. Below you will find information about the different pieces of the process along with the UCSD NIH Application Guide. The UCSD NIH Application Guide is a shortened UCSD specific guide derived from NIH fellowship application guide created by NIH. All instructions on the NIH Fellowship application guide supersedes what is written in the UCSD application guide. 

The Application

NIH uses an online application portal called ASSIST, from which you will prepare, submit, and track your application.

To access ASSIST, you will need an eRA Commons account. You will also need to create an ORCID iD and connect this to your eRA Commons account. 

Search for PA-21-051  if applying for NIH F31 Parent and PA-21-052 for NIH F31 Diversity. Follow the step by step instructions to submit.

  •  eRA Commons User ID
    • To request an account or update an existing account fill out an eRA Commons Account Request Form. 
      • NOTE: Both the student and the sponsor/mentor both need an account. A student should request that a PD/PI role be assigned to their profile. The sponsor/mentor should request their eRA Commons account with the Sponsor role assigned.
  • ORCID iD
  • Letters of Reference
    • Three to five reference letters from anyone who is NOT directly involved in the application but who are familiar with the applicant’s qualifications, training, and interests.
    • Your Sponsor/Co-Sponsors cannot write your reference letters (these are your mentors, co-mentors). If your advisors are directly involved in the application, they cannot serve as a reference either. 
      • NOTE: 'Letters of Support' are not the same as 'Reference Letters'.
        • Sponsors/co-sponsors CAN write “LETTERS OF SUPPORT.” Letters of Support are visible to the students and they can be uploaded by the student to their application in the section of “Letters of Support”.
        • 'Reference Letters' are private and can only be uploaded by the writer via eRA Commons.
    • These letters will be submitted through eRA Commons, separate from your ASSIST application.
    • Letters of reference are due on the same day as the agency deadline, they are not part of the internal review process.
    • Make sure to provide the correct PA numbers (see above).

Campus Requirements to Process NIH Application

  • Kuali Record Number
    • This number will be assigned to you once the mentor's fund manager has created a Kuali PD record for your application. The Kuali Record number is used for the internal administration of the proposal.
  • Kuali Conflict of Interest (COI)
    • Kuali COI forms should be submitted prior to submission 
    • The student, the mentor, and any co-mentors should submit COI forms
    • COI forms are submitted through Kuali COI, for more information, click the link above. A fund manager should assist in this process. 
  • Fellowship Assurance Form

To see an example of a funded application, see the Helpful Links dropdown menu.

Downloadable Forms

  1. Application Guide UCSD NIH F31
    • Guide to filling out the ASSIST application online, for your reference.
  2. Biosketch - Predoctoral Fellowship Biosketch 
  3. Budget Guide
    • Provides budget numbers for ASSIST application, for your reference.
  4. Checklist
    • Coming soon
    • Provides a step by step guide for the entire NIH F31 campus process, for your reference.
  5. Fellowship Assurance Form
    • Upload to your ticket on the Student Services and Support Portal
    • Or submit a hard copy, in person at the Graduate Division or via campus mail (MC 0003).

For Diversity Applicants Only

Description of Candidates Contribution to Program Goals

  • The sponsoring institution must provide a document on institutional letterhead that explains how the candidate’s participation will further the goals of the fellowship program to promote diversity in health-related research.
  • For NIH’s Interest in Diversity, see the Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity.
  • The student's department Chair should sign the letter, afterward route to for the Dean’s signature.

Helpful Links

Post-Submission Actions

Graduate Division will continue to support the student and serve as the Sponsored Projects Office for all post-submission actions. Post-submission actions may include, supplemental materials, Just In Time (JIT) Requests, award activation, Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR), and termination forms.

For more information and guidance about these post-submission actions visit the Graduate Division Collab Page

Important Information

The Graduate Division does not assume responsibility for errors or omissions in the applicant's submission. We will do our best to review the format of the proposal; however final responsibility for format, content, and completeness always rests with the applicant. Please proofread the application fully and connect with both the graduate fellowship advisor and departmental fund manager for additional guidance prior to submission.