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NICHD Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award - Predoctoral Traineeship

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

What is an NICHD traineeship?

An NICHD traineeship 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 traineeship?

NICHD trainees receive a monthly stipend of $2,068. In addition, the UT Office of Graduate Studies provides an annual supplement of $1,000 per trainee. Thus, the award will pay $25,816 for the forthcoming year, with the dates to be 6/1/2020-5/31/2021. 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 trainee you will also be given priority for assigned office space and a computer in the PRC and you will 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.

Trainees 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 traineeship experience and often results in meeting presentations, co-authored publications, and even sole-authored publications. Perhaps most importantly, a traineeship frees graduate students from other work obligations, such as teaching assistantships or outside employment. As a result, a traineeship provides the valuable time that is necessary to excel at the highest level in graduate school.

NICHD traineeships 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 trainee?

We expect our trainees 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 trainees are as follows:

Trainees will be in residence at UT throughout the year, working as an active graduate student researcher in the Population Research Center, and working 10+ hours a week with your assigned faculty mentor on a funded research project.

Trainees 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).

Trainees 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 brown bag talk throughout the academic year.

Trainees' work needs to be population oriented - meaning that the research work of trainees 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 trainees to submit their research for presentation at the annual PAA meeting.

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

Finally, trainees 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.

The application period for the 2020-2021 NICHD Predoctoral Traineeship is now closed. Applications for 2021-2022 will be accepted beginning January 2021.

How do you apply?

To apply to become an NICHD trainee, 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

* 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) one writing sample

4) one letter of recommendation from a current faculty member

Your application materials should be submitted electronically to no later than February 17, 2021

If you have additional questions, please contact the PRC Administrative team at 


The application period for the 2020-2021 NICHD Predoctoral Traineeship is now closed. Applications for 2021-2022 will be accepted beginning January 2021.

2020-2021 Predoctoral Fellows:

Faith Deckard

Andrew Koepp

Randi Saunders

Matthew Snidal

Sangita Vyas

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    University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street / RLP 2.602
    Mail Stop G1800
    Austin, Texas 78712-1699