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Do you need to work with the Office of Sponsored Programs on your fellowship or grant application?

01 May Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments

What is the Office of Sponsored Programs?  What do they do?
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is an office for administering externally funded (or “sponsored”) projects at Mason. OSP manages grants and fellowships where the funds are channeled through the university as opposed to being awarded directly to an individual. 

Most graduate fellowships are individual awards that do not require the involvement of OSP; however, a few are institutional awards that do require that the application be processed through OSP.  If you are applying to such a competition it is important to be aware of the additional steps required to make a complete and timely application submission.  Note that you will be required to submit the complete application package to OSP about a week in advance of the posted deadline.  Consult with OSP early and be sure you are aware of their submission deadline, not just the competition’s.

Fellowships and grants requiring OSP involvement typically use specific budget guidelines and require additional paperwork for submission, including paperwork that is completed / signed by a representative of the institution rather than by the applicant.  OSP provides assistance to applicants in these matters, including budget development, completing necessary forms and obtaining necessary signatures.  If you win one of these awards, OSP will help arrange the disbursement of the award and enforce any reporting requirements.

OSP’s services are organized into two divisions:  “Pre-Award,” which deals with the application development and submission process; and “Post-Award,” which handles the administration of the grant after it has been awarded.


Do I need to work with OSP on my Fellowship or Grant Application?  How will I know?
In most cases, the application instructions will make this clear.  If not, the Office of Graduate Fellowships can help you determine if you need to work with OSP on your submission.

The most commonly sought-after graduate-level awards requiring OSP involvement are:

·       NSF Dissertation Grants, including the DDRIG opportunities in the Social/Behavioral/Economic Sciences and the DDIG opportunities in the Biological Sciences.  (NOT, however, the GRFP and EAPSI programs.)

·       NIH F31 NRSA (“Ruth Kirschstein”) and NIH R36 (AHRQ) grants.

·       Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowships administered by the Department of Education.  (NOT, however, regular Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants administered by IIE.)

·       NIJ Graduate Research Fellowship Program (Department of Justice)


Do Fulbright, Boren, or Critical Languages applications need to go through OSP?
No.  These competitions are set up in such a way that a student can apply directly in their own name.  Funds (and other benefits) awarded through these programs go directly to the student without passing through the University.  (However, be aware that the Fulbright-Hays program, which is a doctoral-level Fulbright awarded through the Department of Education, does require the participation of OSP.)


Do NSF applications need to go through OSP?  What about other major competitions in STEM fields, such as NDSEG, DoD SMART, EPA STAR, and CSGF?
Some NSF graduate fellowships require OSP participation and some do and some do not.  The Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), which is the largest NSF graduate fellowship program, does NOT require OSP participation.  Neither does the East Asia Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) grant, which offers opportunities for doctoral students in NSF-supported fields to do summer research in East Asia.  NSF dissertation research grants (DDRIG and DDIG, which are offered for some, but not all, NSF-supported fields of study) DO require OSP participation.

NDSEG, DoD SMART, EPA STAR, and CSGF do NOT require OSP participation.  These grants (like the NSF GRFP) are not tied to the university because they are designed to be “portable,” meaning the applicant takes the grant with them wherever they go to graduate school – the award attaches to the individual, not the institution.


I need to meet with OSP about my grant or fellowship application.  How do I do that?
Go to  On the right side of the screen, you will see a list of “Helpful Links.”  Click on “Request Proposal Assignment” and complete the required fields in the form that appears.  (If you’re not sure of the answer to a required field, just answer as best you can or enter some information, as the form will not be accepted unless an attempt has been made to complete all required fields.)  Submit the form online.  OSP will contact you to schedule an appointment with a “Pre-Award” specialist to work on the application.  If OSP does not respond within a week of submitting the form, contact them to follow up.  The folks at OSP are super nice and always happy to help Mason graduate students!

For more tips and guidance on the OSP, the Office of Graduate Fellowships, and the roles these offices will play in your application process, download the OSP Tip Sheet from the Tips and Advice page.


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