NIH Guidelines for Trainee Career Development

T32 Guidelines

New parent FOA for T32s:

"The career outcomes of individuals supported by NRSA training programs include both research-intensive careers in academia and industry and research-related careers in various sectors, e.g., academic institutions, government agencies, for-profit businesses, and private foundations. Training programs should make available structured, career development advising and learning opportunities (e.g., workshops, discussions, Individual Development Plans). Through such opportunities, trainees would obtain a working knowledge of various potential career directions that make strong use of the knowledge and skills gained during research training and the steps required to transition successfully to the next stage of their chosen career."

Under the "Program Plan" section it reads:

"The PD/PI should describe program activities intended to develop the working knowledge needed for trainees to select among and prepare for the next step in varied research-intensive and research-related career options available in the biomedical workforce. For example, programs should provide all trainees with instruction and training in oral and written presentation, leadership skills, and in skills needed to apply for individual fellowship or grant support. All postdoctoral trainees should also be provided with instruction in laboratory and project management."

One of the scored review criteria is:

"Is the proposed training program likely to ensure trainees will be well prepared for research-intensive and research-related careers?"

Individual Development Plan:


Revised Policy: Descriptions on the Use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers Required in Annual Progress Reports beginning October 1, 2014

NIH annual progress reports received on/after October 1, 2014 must include a section to describe how individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the award.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipends, Tuition/Fees and Other Budgetary Levels Effective for Fiscal Year 2016:


Dual Role of Students and Post-Doctoral Staff:

400-2 (page 19) The Uniform Guidance states:

”For non-Federal entities that educate and engage students in research, the dual role of students as both trainees and employees contributing to the completion of Federal awards for research must be recognized in the application of these principles.”
Staff in postdoctoral positions engaged in research, while not generally pursuing an additional degree, are expected to be actively engaged in their training and career development under their research appointments as Post-Docs. This dual role is critical in order to provide Post-Docs with sufficient experience and mentoring for them to successfully pursue independent careers in research and related fields.

QDoes 200.400(f) require recognition of the dual role of postdoctoral staff appointed on research grants as, both trainees and employees, when appointed as a researcher on research grants?

AYes, the Uniform Guidance 200.400(f) requires the recognition of the dual role of all pre and post-doctoral staff, who are appointed to research positions with the intent that the research experience will further their training and support the development of skills critical to pursue careers as independent investigators or other related careers. Neither Pre-Docs or Post-Docs need to be specifically appointed in ‘training’ positions to require recognition of this dual role. The requirements and expectations of their appointment will support recognition of this dual role per 200.400(f).

Training Career Outcomes

Training Career Outcomes by Dr. Shiva Singh:

"Dear NIGMS T32 Training Grant Program Director:

At the June 2015 meeting of NIGMS training, workforce development, and diversity program directors Exit icon, Peter Preusch, Dick Okita and I discussed the importance of making post-training career outcomes available to current and prospective students. The goal of collecting and sharing data on Ph.D. career outcomes is consistent with recommendations of the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH. This topic has also been addressed by the Association of American Medical Colleges Exit icon, the Council of Graduate Schools Exit icon and a recent Molecular Biology of the Cell article.

We believe it’s critical that graduate programs openly communicate to potential applicants the range of career outcomes of their alumni/ae. Therefore, we strongly encourage graduate programs at institutions that receive predoctoral T32 support from us to make their alumni/ae career outcomes publicly available to prospective and current students, preferably by posting the outcomes on their institutions’ websites and consolidating them by department or broad program, rather than just listing individual examples. We also strongly encourage new and renewal T32 program applicants to include information on how their institutions inform students about career outcomes.

I welcome your comments at