National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; and to secure the national defense. 

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The National Science Foundation is the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields, such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing. NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences.

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the United States. NSF's goals – discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship – provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation's research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization.

Another essential element in NSF's mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research they fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

The NSF funds research and education in science and engineering through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements. The Foundation accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for basic research. NSF provides several ways to research past (since 1989) and current awards. Click here for the current Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) is the nation's leading provider of statistical data on the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. Further information for data on research and development, the science and engineering workforce, the condition and progress of STEM education and U.S. competitiveness in science, engineering, technology and R&D can all be found on the NSF website.


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National Science Foundation (NSF)







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