NASA Postdoctoral Program for Sciencists 2017, USA

Publish Date: May 29, 2017

Deadline: Jul 01, 2017

The NASA Postdoctoral Program

The NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) provides early-career and more senior scientists the opportunity to share in NASA's mission, to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

NASA Postdoctoral Fellows work on 1 to 3 year assignments with NASA scientists and engineers at NASA centers and institutes to advance NASA's missions in earth science, heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics, space bioscience, aeronautics, engineering,human exploration and space operations, astrobiology, and science management.

NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellows contribute to our national scientific exploration, confirm NASA's leadership in fundamental research, and complement the efforts of NASA's partners in the national science community.

Areas of Research

  • Aeronautics and Engineering
  • Astrobiology
  • Astrophysics
  • Biological Sciences
  • Cosmochemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Heliophysics Science
  • Planetary Science
  • Technology Development
  • Science Management


  • You must have completed the requirements for a Ph.D. or an equivalent doctorate degree before beginning the fellowship.
  • You must have U.S. citizenship, Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, or the Exchange Visitor J-1 Visa (research scholar only) before beginning the fellowship. An H-1B status is not acceptable because the NPP is not an employment program. You are eligible to apply for the NPP while holding the F-1 status. However, if you are selected for an appointment, you must change your status to one listed above.
  • Since each NPP Fellowship is tied to a specific research opportunity located at a NASA Center or program institute, you must relocate to the Center or program institute that supports the opportunity to which you were accepted. In the case of virtual Centers such as the NASA Astrobiology Institute, you must relocate to the university location of your advisor as listed on the research opportunity. Establishing and maintaining residency at the Center or at the location of the advisor is required to begin the appointment and to remain in the program.
  • You must not have held an NPP appointment for five years prior to applying. NPP Fellows are eligible for another award five years after the end of the previous appointment.
  • Some NASA Centers may require a security or visitation clearance before you start your appointment. The NPP Center Representative will notify you in advance if a clearance is required.
  • You cannot start your NPP appointment until all appointment requirements are met. This includes completing and returning all required forms and documentation to USRA. USRA will not issue an advance stipend check, start stipend payments, or approve relocation travel until all requirements are met.


NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellows must meet the following program requirements:

  • Fellows must have fulfilled all the eligibility requirements in order to receive their award.
  • Fellows are stipend recipients and not employees of either NASA or USRA or of their host institution.
  • Fellows must provide proof of health insurance, either through the Aetna plan offered by USRA, or from another qualified plan. If insured under another qualified plan, the Fellow must provide USRA with the insurer name, policy number, and copies of the front and back of the insurance card.
  • The Fellow is required to maintain all safety, security, IT security and other training requirements of the host Center at which they are residing.
  • Relocation costs must be pre-approved by USRA 60 days prior to travel.
  • The Fellow must commit to resident participation at an approved NASA site for the duration of the appointment, and avoid obligations that will interrupt the research during the appointment.
  • Fellows are required to adhere to the host institution's requirements for prior review and approval of all material to be published. This includes material that will appear in print (including poster presentations at meetings) or material prepared for oral presentation.
  • The Fellow is required to report all inventions made as a result of the appointment promptly to the director or patent counsel of his/her host institution and also to USRA.
  • USRA does not assert any rights to inventions made during the appointment.
  • NASA requires that the Fellow be fully involved in the research and educational opportunities available in the NPP appointment; the Fellow may not provide services for compensation to a third party, or supplement their stipends through simultaneous employment, grants, or other sources of income that compete with the Fellowship.

Applying to the NASA Postdoctoral Program 

Application cycle deadlines for the NASA Postdoctoral Program are March 1, July 1 and November 1, annually.  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.

  1. Complete 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.
    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 arrange for your university to send us original transcripts to be received by the application deadline.
  2. Identify a research opportunity
    You should search the 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 US citizens, you can also search by citizenship as well.
    Once you have identified a research opportunity you should contact the NASA advisor associated with that research opportunity by phone or e-mail. 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.

  3. Register before you apply
    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.

  4. Letters of Recommendation
    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 should not serve as a reference, even if he or she was your thesis advisor.

  5. The research proposal
    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.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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