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Hi all!

I was recently accepted for both the NSF GRFP and the DoD NDSEG Fellowships. However, as many of you may know, I can only accept one. Most of my peers don't really know what the NDSEG is, so I haven't been able to get much help so far and I feel like I'm flying blind. I did see a thread on this subject from 2013 on here, but there weren't many responses and it seemed out of date.

I was wondering what the pros and cons of each were, and if you would recommend taking one or the other. If it helps at all, I am a second-year PhD student in neuroscience hoping to eventually become a professor (God willing), and I honestly care mostly about how it helps me get to that point, though money is pretty nice too.



Pros: people know it better, is more flexible

Cons: pays less to me and my lab



Pros: pays $4000 more per month, $5000 travel budget, completely pays stipend and fees

Cons: not flexible at all, seems like less people know about it (despite being more selective), maybe some PIs dislike DoD(?)


What do you guys think? Which one is best, and what pros and cons am I overlooking? Thanks a bunch!

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I saw someone say on another thread that choosing NSF makes more sense if you're interested in academia because you'll have a relationship with NSF which may be important/favorable when grant writing in the future.

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@dalamplighter Well, let's compare the two even further.


  • 3 years of support
  • $34,000 per year plus $12,000 towards tuition
  • Get access to supercomputer/massive database (or something of that sort)
  • No service obligation
  • Can apply to NSF GROW and NSF GRIP (only for NSF GRFP awardees)
  • More known in academia


  • 3 years of support
  • $4,000 per month ($48,000 per year), $5000 travel budget, $1200 towards health insurance, all tuition and fees are paid
  • I imagine, access to DoD facilities (some researchers might not like DoD bc they don't like working with the military maybe???)
  • No service obligation
  • More known in industry and engineering (this fellowship is highly known in the engineering fields, but it seems less in neuroscience)

So, I am unsure if you have to pay tuition and fees in your program. I will only have to pay fees when I start in the fall. If you do have to pay tuition, then that can help you save a lot of money!

But if tuition isn't an issue, you would get $14,000 more per year ($1,167 more per month) with the NDSEG + a travel budget + money to cover health insurance if your school doesn't cover it for you.

So, here is my two cents. NSF will give you less money but will provide you more opportunities because you get to apply to NSF internships that are exclusive to NSF GRFP Fellows. However, if you don't think you will use those opportunities and would feel better about having more money, then NDSEG would be better.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

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I think the relative perceived prestige of the two awards is going to be pretty field-dependent... Personally, I was in biomedical engineering and was more impressed that my cohort had an NDSEG recipient than any single one of the several GRFP recipients. If you're only looking at what your peers think that's not really the important part of the picture, though... What do your potential future funders/employers think?

Also you can put the fact that you received both awards on your CV even though you'll only accept one. So to me that's a reason to go for the better package (whichever you decide that is) while weighing less heavily how they are regarded as you'll still get some of the prestige benefit from the one you turn down.

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