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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 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for investigator-initiated R03 applications can be found at PA-19-052 and articulates the policies and procedures that apply to this grant mechanism.

This website describes the use of the investigator-initiated R03 and describes the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) that intend to accept such applications.
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

All investigators should consult the list of participating ICs (shown below) as well as the IC staff listed as contacts to determine if an R03 application is appropriate. Investigators are strongly encouraged to consult with the appropriate NIH program administrator about their proposed research project during the concept development stage of the application.

All R03 grant applications will be assigned to the ICs according to standard PHS referral guidelines and specific program interests. Applications that are assigned to an IC that does not participate in this program may not proceed to review.

There is also a list of ICs that do not accept unsolicited R03 applications. Non-participating ICs 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

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:
For Additional information on NIH Small Grant Programs -  Please email

Active Funding Opportunity Announcements


This page last updated on January 13, 2020
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