Notice of Change in Policy on the Submission of Letters of Reference for Career Development (K) Applications

Notice Number: NOT-OD-11-079

Key Dates

Release Date: May 26, 2011

Related Notices

NOT-OD-11-036: Advanced Notice of Change in Policy on the Submission of Letters of Reference for Kirschstein-NRSA Fellowship (F) and Career Development (K) Applications
NOT-OD-10-115: Enhancing Peer Review: New NIH Policy on Post-Submission Application Materials

Issued by

National Institutes of Health (NIH)


The following change in policy is effective for Individual Career Development Award (K) applications intended for June 12, 2011 and subsequent due dates.

This Notice informs prospective applicants for Individual Career Development awards that the Letters of Reference are due by the application receipt deadline date.  Prior to this policy change, there was a 5 business days grace period for the receipt of letters of reference after the application receipt due date.  The new policy eliminates the grace period.

Letters of reference may be submitted any time after the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) opens and not later than the application due date.  Reference Letters can be submitted before the grant application submission.  Such letters will be held and later linked to the appropriate application once they are received at NIH.  See Reference Letter FAQs for additional information, and also FAQs for the Post-Submission Materials Policy.

For a reference letter to be matched to the career application, the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOAs) must be identical. It is important that applicants make sure that the reference letter writers are citing the current Funding Opportunity Announcement. If there are problems with the matching of the reference letter and application, the eRA Service Desk must be contacted (

Applications without all of the required references in the appropriate format will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

As always, Career Award applicants are encouraged to request letters of reference only from individuals who will be able to submit them in time.  Consider any factor (e.g., illness or extended vacation) that might cause an inordinate delay and be sure to discuss these requirements with your referees well in advance of the application submission date.

For a list of Career Award FOAs, see the K Kiosk.


Please direct all inquiries to:

NIH Research Training Officer