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NICHD Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award - Pre-doctoral Training Fellowship

Current graduate students who are Population Research Center graduate trainees and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) fellowship in population studies.  

What is an NICHD fellowship?

An NICHD fellowship in population studies is a prestigious fellowship that allows graduate students to focus intensively on population-related training and research in preparation for a career in population research. The fellowship is a 12-month award.

What are the benefits of an NICHD fellowship?

NICHD fellows receive a monthly stipend of $2,153. In addition, the UT Office of Graduate Studies provides an annual supplement of $1,000 per fellow. Thus, the award will pay $25,836 for the forthcoming year, with the dates to be 6/1/2022-5/31/2023. The award also provides payment of tuition and fees for the fall and spring semesters (9 hours each semester) and an additional stipend to cover the annual premium cost of basic student health insurance offered by The University of Texas Student Health Center. As an NICHD fellow you will also be provided with a $500 travel allowance to attend the annual meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA), usually held in April or May each spring.

During the academic year (September – May), fellows are assigned as research apprentices to one of the Population Research Center faculty to collaborate on a research project, with the expectation that you work a minimum of 10 hours a week on the project. This is an invaluable part of the fellowship experience and often results in meeting presentations, co-authored publications, and even sole-authored publications. Perhaps most importantly, a fellowship frees graduate students from other work obligations, such as teaching assistantships or outside employment. As a result, a fellowship provides the valuable time that is necessary to excel at the highest level in graduate school. During the summer, fellows will be assigned as a research mentor to an undergraduate student who has been selected as a fellow in the PRC's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Mentors will work with an undergraduate fellow for about 3 hours per week in June and July as they write an empirical research paper to be presented at the annual fall meeting of the Southern Demographic Association (SDA). 

NICHD fellowships are recognized around the country as the leading source of graduate student support for students who are serious about moving on to population-related careers in research oriented academic or non-academic positions (e.g., the Urban Institute, the Population Council, the Rand Corporation, the United Nations, the Census Bureau, etc.).

What are the requirements for an NICHD fellow?

We expect our fellows to be highly motivated students who will aggressively pursue their studies at UT and a career in population studies, broadly defined. Specific requirements of NICHD fellows are as follows:

Fellows will be in residence at UT throughout the year. During the summer, fellows will serve as research mentors to undergraduate REU fellows. During the academic year, fellows will be assigned as active graduate researchers in the Population Research Center, working 10+ hours a week with your assigned faculty mentor on a funded research project. 

Fellows will have taken, or will take, the two core population courses offered by the Department of Sociology: 1) General Approaches to the Study of Population; 2) Demographic Techniques (both are offered each spring semester). We also strongly encourage fellows to take other population science electives offered by participating departments.

Fellows will enroll in the Population Studies Training Seminar (Friday mornings) on a pass/fail basis during either the first or second semester of your fellowship and are required to attend the regular PRC Friday Seminars throughout the academic year. 

Fellows' work needs to be population oriented - meaning that the research work of fellows will have a concern with population processes and/or their causes and consequences (e.g., topics that include fertility and family processes; health, aging and mortality; children and youth; immigration, migration, and urbanization, etc.). We expect fellows to submit their research for presentation at the annual PAA meeting.

Outside (of UT) employment while on a fellowship is prohibited. Within UT, additional limited employment may be allowed up to 10 hours a week, but is not recommended and must be approved by the PRC Graduate Training Director. Indeed, one of the key features of a fellowship is the time that it allows fellows to devote to research and not to other employment. 

Finally, fellows are expected to pursue a career in population research, with most students usually moving on to the academic, policy, or governmental sectors. NICHD expects that students move on to population-related research careers and, in the most extreme cases, expects re-payment of the award if this expectation is not met.

How do you apply?

To apply to become an NICHD fellow, please submit the following application materials via email to

1) a current CV
2) a statement, of no more than 2 single-spaced pages, that addresses the following:
* your population-related coursework or coursework plans, including electives beyond the required courses for the PRC traineeship
* your accomplishments over the last year (including presentations, publications, awards, grant and fellowship submissions, working papers, etc…)
* your research agenda - a short description of what you're focusing on in graduate school
* your career plans, as specifically as possible

3) a writing sample
4) one letter of recommendation from a current faculty member

Application materials should be submitted electronically to during the NICHD predoctoral fellowship recruitment period at the beginning of the Spring semester. The application deadline is February 28th.

If you have additional questions, please email

The application period for the 2022-2023 NICHD Pre-doctoral Fellowship will open January 18, 2022. Application materials should be submitted electronically to no later than February 28, 2022.

2021-2022 Predoctoral Fellows:

Chloe Craig

Celeste Fernandez

Dana Johnson

Kimberly McErlean

Randi Saunders


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    University of Texas at Austin
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