How to Apply to the NASA Postdoctoral Program

Annual application cycle deadlines for the NASA Postdoctoral Program are March 1, July 1 and November 1. Currently, the Astrobiology Program accepts applications only during the March and November rounds, and does not consider applications submitted during the July round.

Note: You may submit only ONE application for ONE research opportunity per application cycle.

Non-U.S. Citizens

Note that there are Visa requirements that must be met in order for non-U.S. citizens to participate in an NPP Fellowship (please review the Information for Non-U.S. Citizens page).

You must register on the Applicant Portal to submit your application to the NASA Postdoctoral Program. You may return and edit the application; you do not have to complete it in one session.

You may return and edit the application up until the current deadline; you do not have to complete the application in one session.

Search available opportunities before you begin your application. You can search by science topic, or NASA Center, citizenship requirement or keyword. Since some opportunities are restricted to U.S. citizens, you can also search by citizenship.

Once you have identified a research opportunity, you should contact the NASA advisor associated with that research opportunity by phone or email. The advisor can provide more specific information on current research and available technical facilities and can offer scientific advice that may help you develop the proposal you must submit with your application.

You will apply as either a Postdoctoral Fellow or a Senior Fellow depending on your seniority. 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.

Zintellect, the applicant portal, will guide you through the application process. You will need to supply contact information, citizenship, demographic information, employment, publication, education and research experience. In addition, you will need to arrange for three letters of recommendation to be received by the application deadline. If you are applying as a Postdoctoral Fellow (i.e., if you have held your doctorate for less than five years), you must also submit transcripts by the deadlineSee Graduate Degree Transcripts and Acceptable Transcripts below.

You must arrange for three letters of recommendation that must be received by the cycle deadline for your application to be considered in that cycle. Letters of recommendation for the NPP are requested and received electronically through the NPP Portal. Specific instructions are provided in the NPP Applicant Portal. If you are applying as a Postdoctoral Fellow (i.e., you have received your doctoral degree within the last five years), one reference must be from your thesis advisor. However, note that the NASA research opportunity advisor shall not serve as a reference, even if he or she was your thesis advisor.

Your research proposal needs to clearly address the goals and objectives described in the research opportunity. You should communicate directly with the NASA advisor associated with the research opportunity. Your proposal will be reviewed by the NASA Center to assess its suitability for the research opportunity and, if necessary, will thereafter be reviewed by an external peer review committee.

Begin your proposal with a brief abstract summarizing the scientific problem to be addressed, the proposed science plan, your methodology, and expected results.

For application as a research Fellow, the proposal text should consist of the following six sections:

  • A statement of problem to be addressed;
  • A description of the science background and relevance to previous work in the field;
  • General methodology (procedures to be followed, and timeline for completion of each step);
  • Explanation of new or unusual techniques;
  • Expected results and their significance or application;
  • Literature citations, where appropriate.

Applications to the NASA Postdoctoral Management Program should begin with a statement of purpose for seeking the NPMP appointment, and include the following sections:

  • an abstract of goals for NPMP appointment (maximum one page);
  • a description of pre-NPP knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to the NPMP appointment;
  • an explanation of the relevance of current NPP experience to the NPMP appointment;
  • expected contributions during the NPMP appointment;
  • methods or innovations to achieve those goals and contributions; and
  • career goals beyond the NPMP appointment.

The maximum length for the proposal is 15 pages, including figures and citations; double-spaced; 12-point font; one-inch margins. Important: your proposal may be returned without review if it does not conform to these formatting instructions.

You must submit your proposal as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file.

Applicants can use the provided Proposal Template (in .docx) to ensure proper formatting of the submitted proposal.

Template for the Research Program (.docx, 20 KB)

Template for the Management Program (.docx, 19 KB)

Official transcripts are required for the NPP application. Acceptable transcripts are official reports of the academic record of the student provided by the degree granting institution.

Postdoctoral Fellow applicants must upload their Doctoral (and Master’s if applicable) degree transcripts through the  NPP Applicant Portal. Records of coursework are needed to allow reviewers to evaluate the applicant’s academic preparation and performance. Senior Fellows are not required to provide transcripts.

Official Transcript Checklist

An acceptable transcript for the NPP is an official transcript issued by the Registrar’s Office and includes ALL four of the following elements:

  1. Official university markings such as the registrar’s signature, university logo or stamp, letterhead or watermark, etc.;
  2. Name of the academic institution;
  3. Name of the student; and
  4. For current doctoral students, the official transcript must include recent coursework and grades. For postgraduate candidates, the official transcript should also include the graduation date and degree awarded.

Student academic records downloaded/obtained by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institution systems will not be accepted.

A transcript labeled “Unofficial” or “Issued to Student” by the academic institution will be accepted as long as it meets all four of the requirements listed above; however, student academic records downloaded/obtained by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institutional systems will not be accepted.  Electronic transcript files may display a watermark such as “void” and this is also acceptable. Transcripts do not have to be color copies; black and white copies are acceptable as long as they are readable.

International Transcript Requirements

If the applicant’s international institution does not produce conventional transcripts, the applicant must submit documents to satisfy the following two requirements:

  1. A signed statement or certificate from an official of the university (registrar, recorder, provost, dean, academic chair or other official) on university letterhead to confirm enrollment in or completion of the Ph.D. program AND;
  2. Transcripts of Doctoral and/or Master’s coursework and grades. See Official Transcript Checklist above for required elements.

NOTE: Certificates, diplomas, or announcements of Ph.D. ceremonies that announce or record that an applicant has received the Ph.D. are not acceptable as stand-alone transcripts for the purpose of the NASA Postdoctoral Program.

Additional Requirements

  • Applicants are responsible for redacting all pages of all documents to ensure the removal of any Social Security (or national identification) number, date of birth, place of birth, parents’ names, and student identification numbers. This information must be redacted from all pages of the transcript. This can be done with “white out” or other white corrective tape; by manually blacking out text then re-scanning; or using redaction software. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that documents do not contain any of the above mentioned or other personally identifiable information (PII) that, if lost or compromised, could cause serious harm (including identity theft) to the applicant. PII must be removed from all pages of all documents.
  • Transcripts must be uploaded as PDF files that do not require special certificates or passwords to open. Maximum file size is 10MB.
  • Transcripts must be in English, or the foreign language transcript must include an official English translation.
  • All pages must be legible. Academic performance, including courses taken and grades in those courses, will be a factor in the evaluation of applications.

Please refer to the applicant FAQ if you have any questions regarding your transcript, or contact