Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants

Are you interested in the applying to the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP)? Browse the following frequently asked questions regarding eligibility, duration of appointment, how to apply, and more.

The program is administered for NASA by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest.

NASA Postdoctoral Research Fellows work closely with NASA scientists on their own research programs. By contrast, the NASA Postdoctoral Management Program (NPMP) is designed to provide valuable experience in the management of scientific programs. NPMP Fellows generally work with NASA program scientists at NASA Headquarters on a wide range of programmatic activities involving various aspects in the management of a research and analysis program, analyzing the progress made toward the Division’s scientific research objectives, and participating in future mission feasibility studies. NASA Postdoctoral Management Program Fellowships are open to NASA Postdoctoral Research Fellows who have completed at least one year of their research fellowship.

You may apply for an award before you complete your Ph.D., but you must complete all requirements for a Ph.D. or an equivalent doctorate degree and provide proof of that qualification before beginning the fellowship.

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. This is addressed in the ‘Education History’ component of the application.

A fellowship term of appointment is 12 months. NPP appointments may continue for two additional years, contingent on available funding and the continued relevance of the research to NASA’s goals and missions. NPP appointments are limited to three years. Year 3 must be funded by the advisor and approved by the Center.

NPP Fellowships are awarded competitively. Each application is reviewed by NASA and by at least three external experts. High-ranking applications may then be recommended for award by NASA. Each NASA Center makes award selections based on NASA’s needs, available funding, and the application review results of the pool of candidates. The NPP Center representative communicates the award decisions to ORAU. ORAU notifies the applicant of the Center’s decisions.

An applicant who has been selected by NASA for an NPP award will be notified first by email, followed by a formal offer from ORAU. The offer package consists of an offer letter, terms of appointment, and supporting materials emailed as PDF attachments. Typically, notifications are made two to three months after an application deadline.

Applications that pass peer review remain eligible for an NPP award for one year from the application deadline.

Applications are submitted electronically through Zintellect, the applicant portal website. An applicant creates an account in Zintellect, then enters contact information, educational, work, and research background, names and email addresses of references. The applicant can search for and select a research opportunity through the portal account, and will use this account to upload their research proposal and submit their completed application. Applications can be altered up to the current cycle deadline.

Information about the application process and eligibility requirements is available on the Application page. Potential applicants can send questions to the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP). A list of ORAU contacts is also available on the Contact page.