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NIH Small Grant Program (R03)


The R03 grant mechanism will support small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources. The NIH has standardized the Small Grant (R03) application characteristics, requirements, preparation, and review procedures in order to accommodate investigator-initiated (unsolicited) applications.

The R03 Parent Announcement for investigator-initiated R03 applications articulates the policies and procedures that apply to this grant mechanism.

This website describes the use of the investigator-initiated R03.

Application Characteristics

  • You may request a project period of up to two years and a budget for direct costs of up $50,000 per year.
  • The R03 cannot be renewed
  • No preliminary data are required but may be included if available.
  • The Research Strategy may not exceed 6 pages.
  • A doctoral student may not apply for an R03 grant to support thesis or dissertation research. An R03 award may be used to assist students who are pursuing dissertation studies when the work is within the scope of the R03 award.


The common characteristic of the small grant is the provision of limited funding for a short period of time. Examples of the types of projects that ICs support with the R03 include the following:

  • Pilot or feasibility studies
  • Secondary analysis of existing data
  • Small, self-contained research projects
  • Development of research methodology
  • Development of new research technology

Investigators are strongly encouraged to consult with NIH Scientific/Research staff (see Section VII. Agency Contacts of the funding opportunity) during the concept development stage of the application to determine if an R03 application is appropriate. 

Not all NIH Institutes/Centers (ICs) accept R03 applications. Check list of participating organization in the funding opportunity. Applications that do not fall in the mission of a participating organization may not proceed to review.

Some ICs do not participate on R03 parent announcements but might solicit other R03 applications using Requests for Applications (RFAs) or Program Announcements (PAs) to meet specific program needs. Information about such initiatives can be obtained in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts and by consulting with NIH staff. In some cases those announcements may specify different application characteristics, review criteria, and receipt dates.

All Active R03 Funding Opportunities

Due Dates

Standard receipt dates are February 16June 16, and October 16. AIDS and AIDS-related grant application due dates are May 7, September 7, and January 7. For additional information, the receipt, review and award cycle schedules are posted on the Standard Due Dates page.

For Additional information on NIH Small Grant Programs -  Please email