Diversity Supplement application resources

Institute-specific Diversity Supplement PO

Grant-assigned PO

1) Start first with the institute-specific PO and verify the eligibility of (a) the parent grant and (b) eligibility of student’s career-level

2) Once eligibility has been verified, subsequent conversations may include iterative discussions around the proposal:

  • Do the questions align with the institute’s funding priorities?
  • Are the aims too ambitious?
  • Is the proposed mentorship team appropriate?
  • Which trainings or conferences would they suggest attending?

3) Ask for any recommendations or components of a strong application, including administrative questions:

  • What do they consider a strong candidate and support team
  • Discuss proposed timelines - not all institutes will provide up to 5 years of funding
  • Verify proposal deadlines
  • Budget questions about allowable costs like equipment (e.g., computers, software, laboratory equipment), international travel, sponsored-travel for data collection, and personnel/contractor costs (e.g., translation, interviewers)

1) Discuss most of your specific research-related questions with the grant assigned PO. While your application will not undergo a full committee review, it will go through an internal review and it is important to get early feedback on which projects are typically funded. Some of these discussion questions are the same questions that you should ask the institute-specific PO (both perspectives are important) and may include:

  • Do the questions align with the institute’s funding priorities?
  • Do the questions align sufficiently with the parent grant’s aims?
  • Is it reasonable to have the student complete one of the parent grant’s aims (or a portion of what has already been proposed)?
  • Are you able to propose additional data/specimen collection?
  • Are the aims too ambitious for the timeline?

2) Ask for any recommendations or components of a strong application. For instance, what type of deliverables are appropriate for your career-level (e.g., number of manuscripts, conference abstracts).

3) This should be an iterative conversation. Let them know when you will be submitting your application, ask them how long it will take to receive a response and follow-up once you have submitted your application.

Search for your NIH institute-specific project officer

Note: Both the mentor (PI) and the candidate should be present on email chains and conference calls, to showcase early mentorship and collaboration. The best advice is to get to know your project officers!

Your Diversity Supplement application will include six components:  an eligibility letter, research plan, mentoring plan, timeline, biosketches, your (unofficial) transcripts, and a budget justification. The suggested structure is:

  • Summary of parent award
  • Proposed supplement activities -  including scientific specific aims
  • Plan for the candidate to interact with parent grant collaborators and mentorship team
  • Plan for the candidate to contribute intellectually to the research
  • Plan for the candidate to enhance research skills/capability and knowledge in the selected scientific area
  • Opportunities that will contribute to the trainee’s career development
  • Mentoring plan – including mentors’ qualifications, mentors’ support
  • Milestones/Timeline


  1. Eligibility Letter
  • The PI must describe the candidate’s eligibility by using the NIH-specific eligibility definitionsUW Profiles Information can be used to find university-wide academic and FTE enrollment data.
  • Describe how supporting the candidate will address long-term diversity goals of the institution and the field
  • Describe the candidate’s current funding (e.g., T-32, TA, RA)
    • WARNING: Candidates CANNOT be supported on the grant for which they are applying for a Diversity Supplement
  • The letter must be co-signed by the Office of Sponsored Programs and the PI of the parent grant
  • See Statement of Candidate Eligibility template for individuals from racial and/or ethnic groups


  1. Research Plan
  • Note: This is dependent on the candidate’s career-level, so consult with your grant-specific project officer for more support.
  • This should be within the scope of parent grant
    • Examples include a secondary data-analysis or a nested-project (if funding allows)
    • This will also be institute specific, so discuss research aims early on with the grant-assigned PO
  • This should address how the candidate’s work:
    • Advances the objectives of the parent grant and contributes intellectually to the research community – describe how the candidate will interact with team members from the parent grant
    • Supports the candidate’s research training and long-term career goals – describe how this opportunity will allow the candidate to develop new skills and knowledge to advance their career
  • This should include the following:

A) Actual research, course work and career development opportunities proposed including a timeline

  • Outline courses pertinent to each proposed aim, as appropriate
  • Highlight deliverables (e.g., conference attendance, abstracts, manuscripts)

B) Discuss how the proposed research will:

  • Enhance and foster the candidate’s research training
  • Provide mentoring and career development to the candidate (Extremely important!)

C) Highlight that the candidate’s plan:

  • Is at an appropriate-level for their career development
  • Advances science and the goals of the parent grant
  • If they are in a graduate program, highlight the milestones (i.e., preliminary/general exams) that help them progress in their program

D) Discuss Deliverables:

  • Dissemination of findings (e.g., abstracts, conferences, manuscripts)
  • Dependent on career-level (e.g., post-docs >2 publications/year, typically less for graduate students)


  1. Mentoring Plan

You will assemble a mentoring team of experts who can help you achieve your career goals. The number of people on your mentorship team will depend on your career goals and research project. Balance having enough people to provide appropriate expertise with efficiency. Usually mentorship teams include 3-5 people with distinct areas of expertise.

  • How to choose a mentorship “team”:
    • Choose mentors who can contribute to the analysis, subject matter, or other areas of training for your career goals
    • Consider their career level and accessibility.
    • How will they contribute to long-term career goals
  • What to highlight :
    • Your mentorship team’s previous mentoring experience
    • How each mentor will provide support to get candidates to their next career phase
    • How mentors will go above and beyond the candidates “regular training”
    • Incorporate mentorship activities into timeline (e.g., how frequently you will meet with each)


  1. Timeline
    • Create a Gantt Chart that outlines your milestones for the entire span of the Diversity Supplement timeframe


  1. Biosketch & Transcripts
    • Use NIH-specific Biosketch format 
    • Outline the candidate’s education, training and work experience, science and research experiences, and publications
    • Include a short summary, or what is referred to as a “candidate statement” – allow the institute to know why you are committed to your research
    • Candidates DO NOT have to be perfect! And candidates DO NOT have to have publications, particularly if you are in the early stages of your research career
    • Explain anomalies in transcripts (if applicable)
    • Summarize publications, including manuscripts in preparation
    • Demonstrate commitment to institute’s area of focus (e.g., infectious disease, drug abuse, etc.)
    • Must include biosketches of all mentors


  1. Budget with Justification
  • Candidates should work with a mentor and grant manager on this:
    • Develop the budget for the entire funding period using the format specified by the PI’s department
    • If the initial budget period requested is less than 12 months, the budget must be prorated accordingly
    • There are salary caps, but the candidate’s tuition, stipend and benefits are typically covered for 3 academic quarters per year (Note: sometimes summer quarter is not covered)
  • Some institutes will not cover certain expenses:
    • Check on equipment, including computers
    • International travel
    • Travel for data collection
    • Additional personnel costs (e.g., interviewers, lab technicians, translators)

We have examples of Master’s-level, PhD-level, post-doc and faculty-level applications.

We also recommend that you sign-up for the SPH Diversity Supplement listserv and request additional samples of successful applications, coordinate informational interviews with previous awardees and to ask general questions to the group.