NASA Postdoctoral Program

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Proposal Format

Your proposal should begin 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; 1″ margins.

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

Proposals which do not follow the prescribed format may be rejected at the discretion of NASA.  Applicants can use the provided Proposal Template (in .docx and LaTeX formats) to ensure proper formatting of the submitted proposal.

  • Template for the Research Program – Word | LaTeX
  • Template for the Management Program – Word | LaTeX

Graduate Degree Transcripts

If you are applying as a Postdoctoral Fellow, official graduate school transcripts must be submitted by an official from your graduate degree granting institution. Transcripts are needed since they allow reviewers to compare the applicant’s academic preparation and performance to that of other applicants.  Senior Fellows are not required to provide transcripts.

Acceptable Transcripts

A graduate degree transcript is an official report of the academic record of the student provided to USRA by the degree granting institution. Transcripts are submitted by a university official – registrar, recorder, provost, academic chair, or other official of the university.

Transcript Checklist
Acceptable transcripts for the NPP are submitted by an official of the university and include the following elements:

  • The transcript identifies the field of study, the topics studied, the depth of the study, and a measure of performance.  The transcript shows titles of courses completed; credit hours or duration of the course; grades, marks, or subjective evaluations received the student; academic status or honors received; and the degree(s) conferred.
  • The transcript has an original university seal.
  • The transcript is printed on official letterhead.
  • The transcript is signed by a university official (registrar, recorder, provost, academic chair, or other official of the university).
  • The transcript is in English. Transcripts issued in a foreign language must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

International Transcripts
If your international graduate institution does not produce conventional transcripts, please arrange for the submission of the following:

  1. A signed statement or certificate from an official of the university (registrar, recorder, provost, academic chair or other official) on university letterhead to confirm enrollment in or completion of the PhD program AND
  2. Transcripts of coursework taken for your Master’s degree.

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. Please see International Transcripts section above.

If you have any questions regarding your transcript, please contact the NPP Human Resources at  [email protected].

Transcript Submission

The transcript must be provided directly by the degree granting university. Transcripts sent by the applicant, regardless of the formal, will not be accepted.

There are three (3) options for submission:

1. Submission via Surface Mail:

Mail to:
NASA Postdoctoral Program
Universities Space Research Association
Attn: Taifa Simpson
7178 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD 21046

2. Submission via USRA’s Secure File Transfer Site

  • Document must be in PDF format
    Secure File Transfer Instructions
  • Go to
  • Enter sender’s email address.
  • In the subject include fellow’s Full Name and Document Title, use format:
    • “FirstName LastName – DocumentTitle” Example: “Brian Smith – NPP Transcript”
  • When composing the message, please keep all confidential information within file attachments.
  • To upload file(s):
    • Click “Add Files”, select files and click “Open”
    • Files will appear under “Attached Files”
    • Click “Send”

3. Submission via  Secure (typically encrypted) Email

  • Available only if sending as a secure (typically encrypted) email
  • Document must be in PDF format
  • Email to:  [email protected].


If you have any questions regarding your transcript, please contact the NPP Human Resources at  [email protected].