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Changes to the Fellowship Review Criteria

Learn more about the changes being made to the fellowship review criteria for applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2025.

The revised fellowship review criteria, effective for receipt dates on or after January 25, 2025, is intended to help reviewers to better evaluate a candidate’s potential and the quality of their research training plan without the undue influence of the sponsor’s or institution’s reputation, and ensure that the information provided in the application is targeted to the fellowship candidate’s specific training needs and is aligned with restructured review criteria. The revised peer review criteria will apply to the following activity codes: F30, F31, F32, F33, F99/K00.

Five Regulatory Criteria Reorganized into Three Review Criteria

The revised fellowship peer review criteria reorganize the five current scored review criteria headings into three, each scored 1-9:
For due dates before Jan. 25, 2025
For due dates on or after Jan. 25, 2025


  1. Fellowship Applicant
  2. Sponsors, Collaborators, and Consultants
  3. Research Training Plan
  4. Training Potential
  5. Institutional environment and Commitment to Training.


  1. Candidate's Preparedness and Potential
  2. Research Training Plan
  3. Commitment to Candidate

Scored Review Criteria

Criteria Details
Candidate’s Preparedness and Potential
  • Discuss the candidate’s preparedness for the proposed research training plan. Consider the context, for example, the candidate’s stage of training and the opportunities available.
  • Assess whether the candidate and sponsor statements as well as the referee letters provide convincing evidence that the candidate possesses qualities (such as scientific understanding, creativity, curiosity, resourcefulness, and drive) that will improve the likelihood of a successful research training outcome.
  • Consider the candidate’s potential to benefit from the fellowship research training plan and to transition to the next career stage in the biomedical research workforce.
 Research Training Plan  
  • Assess the rigor and feasibility of the research training project and how completion of the project will contribute to the development of the candidate as a research scientist.
  • Evaluate the goals of the overall research training plan and the extent to which the plan will facilitate the attainment of the goals.
  • Discuss whether the research training plan identifies areas of needed development and contains appropriate, realistic activities and milestones to address those needs.
  • Consider whether the sponsor(s), scientific environment, facilities, and resources are adequate and appropriate for the proposed research training plan.
Commitment to Candidate
  • Assess whether the sponsor(s) presents a strong mentoring plan appropriate to the needs and goals of the candidate.
  • Evaluate the extent to which the sponsor(s) and organizational commitment is appropriate, sufficient, and in alignment with the candidate’s research training plan.
  • Consider whether the level of commitment provided will contribute to the successful completion of the proposed plan and allow the candidate to advance to a productive career in the biomedical research workforce.