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Procedures for applying to the NASA Postdoctoral Program

Three deadlines each calendar year

Annual application deadlines are March 1, July 1, and November 1. Each deadline is 6:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. Late applications will be considered in the next round.

The Astrobiology Program accepts applications during the March and November rounds, but currently does not consider applications submitted during the July round.

Note: You may submit only one application during a given application cycle.

Register before you apply

You must register and create a password before you can complete an application. Once you have registered, you may log in using your e-mail address and password. You may return and edit the application; you do not have to complete it in one session.

Identify a research opportunity

Begin by selecting a research opportunity. You may search the opportunities before you begin your application. Once you identify a research opportunity that matches your education, experience, and interests, we recommend that you contact the advisor of that research opportunity to discuss the opportunity. The advisor can provide more specific information on current research and available technical facilities and may offer scientific advice that may help you develop the proposal you must submit with your application.

Complete your application

In the course of completing the application, you will be categorized as either a Postdoctoral Fellow or a Senior Fellow. A Postdoctoral Fellow has held the doctoral degree for less than five years at the time of application. A Senior Fellow has held the doctoral degree for five or more years at the time of application.

Enter the rest of the information required in the application, tracking completion of each component using the “Applicant Menu” on the left sidebar of the application. The application itself contains detailed instructions for each one of these components:

  • Applicant Profile
  • Contact Information
  • Education History
  • Transcript Instructions
  • Honors and Awards
  • Employment
  • Citizenship Information
  • Research Experience (1,200 word limit)
  • Research Proposal (15 pages maximum, including figures and citations; double-spaced (excluding captions); 12-point font)
  • Publications (1,800 word limit)
  • Dissertation Abstract
  • Demographics

Arrange your references

Three references must be received by the deadline for your application to be considered in the current round. If you have received your doctoral degree within the last five years, one reference must be from your thesis advisor. The NPP Research Opportunity Advisor should not serve as a reference, even if he or she was your thesis advisor.

Components of the research proposal

You must submit a research proposal that responds to the goals and objectives described in the research opportunity you selected.

Again, we recommend that you communicate directly with the advisor for the research opportunity before writing the proposal. Your proposal will be reviewed by the Center to assess its suitability for the research opportunity and may thereafter be reviewed by an external peer review committee.

Proposals for the NASA Postdoctoral Research Program should begin with a brief abstract, followed by the body of the proposal, which should contain these components: a) statement of problem, b) background and relevance to previous work, c) general methodology, procedures to be followed, and timeline for completion of each step; d) explanation of new or unusual techniques, e) expected results and their significance and application, and f) literature citations, where appropriate.

Proposals for the NASA Postdoctoral Management Program should begin with a statement of purpose for seeking the NPMP appointment, followed by these components: a) an abstract of goals for NPMP appointment (maximum one page); b) a description of pre-NPP knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to the NPMP appointment; c) an explanation of the relevance of current NPP experience to the NPMP appointment; d) expected contributions during the NPMP appointment; e) methods or innovations to achieve those goals and contributions; and f) career goals beyond the NPMP appointment.

The maximum length for the proposal is 15 pages, including figures and citations; double-spaced; 12-point font.

Important information about graduate degree transcripts

Purpose of the transcript in the NPP application

Each NPP application is reviewed by three or more reviewers. Transcripts allow those reviewers to identify the applicant’s field of study and assess the applicant’s academic preparation and performance in that field. Without a document that captures that information, the reviewers cannot form an accurate picture of the applicant’s academic history.

Definition of a graduate degree transcript

A graduate degree transcript is an official report of the academic record of a student provided by the university. This report identifies the field of study, the topics studied, the depth of the study, and the manner of performance of the student. To capture that information, the transcript may show titles of courses completed; credit hours or duration of the course; grades, marks, or subjective evaluations received by the student; academic status or honors received; , and the degree(s) conferred. It may be provided by the university registrar, provost, academic chair, or other authority of the university.

Examples of documents that do not meet the transcript requirement

Certificates, diplomas, or announcements of Ph.D. ceremonies that announce or record that an applicant has received the Ph.D. are not sufficient because they do not capture the details of the applicant’s Ph.D. preparation or chronicle the academic performance of the applicant.

How to provide official copies of graduate degree transcripts

An “official copy” is defined as a document printed on official letterhead and signed by an official of the university. Transcripts sent by the applicant, regardless of the format, will not be accepted.

Official copies of graduate degree transcripts must be sent directly from the granting institution to the NPP program office, either in hard copy by mail at the addresses listed below or in a PDF document sent via email to

Ph.D. transcripts are required, even if the Ph.D. is not yet completed. (Without a Ph.D. transcript, we have no proof that the applicant is enrolled in a Ph.D. program.)

Master’s transcripts are recommended in order to capture the academic achievement of the applicant and the relevance of the academic major.

Transcripts from foreign institutions must be accompanied by an official English translation. Translations by the applicant cannot be accepted.

Transcripts must be received no later than the application deadline. Applicants whose degrees come from institutions outside the United States must ensure that official transcripts from those institutions arrive by the deadline.

If the university sends the transcripts via the U.S. Postal Service, use this address:

NASA Postdoctoral Program
Attn: Janeen Pointer, MS-36
P.O. Box 117
Oak Ridge TN 37831-0117

If the university sends the transcripts via a commercial express mail service (FedEx, DHL, or UPS), use this address:

NASA Postdoctoral Program
Attn: Janeen Pointer, MS-36
Building SC-200
1299 Bethel Valley Road
Oak Ridge TN 37830

Proceed to Online NPP Application