Diversity Supplements - Information for Students

Diversity Supplements may provide up to 5 years of funding for candidates, which includes additional research funds, tuition, stipend and health insurance, so that you can focus on your coursework and research project. Depending on your academic level and NIH institute, you may be able to request conference funding, research-related equipment, publication fees, and other research-related expenses. All budget-related questions should be discussed with a grants manager and NIH project officer. (Note: Some grants may not cover summer quarter tuition, salary and health insurance.)

We have a list for you! Please review the SPH list and Seattle Children’s list of eligible grants. When you have identified a project that interests you, contact the principal investigator (PI) to let them know about your eligibility for Diversity Supplements and your interest in their project. Ask to set-up an informational meeting.

Generally, most NIH grants are eligible to have a Diversity Supplement, with the exception of grants that have a training component (i.e., K-awards, F-awards, T-32 awards) and grants can also be found on most PI’s online profiles

IMPORTANT: The grant must have >1 year of funding (the more time the better!)and you cannot be paid on the grant you are submitting the application (i.e., you cannot be a Research Assistant, contractor, etc.)

Yes, you need to find an investigator that has an active NIH grant, that is willing to mentor you and your work. While you may write your own application, your mentor will need to review and submit a Diversity Supplement on your behalf. If you are able to be part of the grant writing process, this is a great learning opportunity for you!

Many investigators in the SPH are enthusiastic about working with students that meet the Diversity Supplement eligibility criteria. Please see the SPH Student Funding and Opportunities page to see current postings and contact investigators directly. Within the title and text of your email, mention that you are inquiring about a Diversity Supplement.

  • What type of research do you want to do? What are the next steps in your career (e.g., post-doctoral fellow, medical school, etc.)? NOTE: Generally, the NIH wants to train the next generation of researchers, but some institutes are willing to support medical students and other professional degrees.
  • Talk to previous Diversity Supplement awardees and ask them about their experiences by signing up for the SPH Diversity Supplement Listserv.
  • Familiarize yourself with the instructions for completing an application and the NIH General Diversity Supplement program announcement (PA-21-071
  • Remember, you DO NOT have to be a “perfect student” or have prior research experience. This opportunity is meant to provide you with the necessary research experience so that you can excel in your career.

You will need to submit an eligibility letter as part of your full application. In this letter, you will have to clearly state how you meet the NIH eligibility criteria. However, you do not need to prove your eligibility. In other words, you will not be required to provide documentation for previously receiving free/reduced lunches or other “disadvantaged categories” to prove that you are eligible. If you are eligible because you are a member of a group that is underrepresented in the health sciences, you must include data demonstrating that this group is underrepresented in your eligibility letter. 

  • Reach out to the principal investigator (PI) of the eligible grant and set-up an informational meeting. This should be similar to how you find a thesis/dissertation mentor.
  • Tell the PI you are eligible to apply for a Diversity Supplement (they will not make assumptions that you qualify!)
  • Every PI has a different process for choosing mentees. They may ask you to:
    • Attend research team meetings
    • Look at study protocols, grant applications, codebooks, etc.
    • Read their previously published work
  • Find a mentor who supports you and your career goals! This professional relationship should be mutually beneficial.

Do not get discouraged if the first PI you speak with cannot accommodate a Diversity Supplement candidate - be persistent and talk to multiple investigators!

  • With your mentor, outline research questions.
    • Questions must be within the scope of the parent grant
    • Depending on your career-level, you may be able to propose a new project that is nested within the parent grant (e.g., qualitative study that falls within the scope of a quantitative study)
    • Projects can include conducting a secondary analysis or sometimes one of the parent grant aims
  • Discuss who will be on your mentorship team
    • Your mentorship team should include people who can support the research you are proposing. While you do not have to submit an application with a PI from your department, you should have someone from your field on your mentorship team.
    • Be clear about how each mentorship team member will add value to your project and career plan
  • You and your PI/mentor will discuss your aims and mentorship plan with the grant-assigned project officer (PO) and the institute-specific PO to make sure it aligns with the institute’s priorities
    • Diversity Supplement applications must convey commitment from the mentor to work with you and demonstrate how the plan provides an opportunity to get you to the next phase of your career (e.g., post-doctoral fellowship, faculty position, etc.)
    • NOTE: Always talk to PO’s with one of your mentors to demonstrate the commitment of your mentorship team

Generally, you are only allowed to have one training award. For instance, if you are currently on a Diversity Supplement and then receive a K-award, you would have to give up your Diversity Supplement. Similarly, if you are supported on a T-32 grant, you cannot start the Diversity Supplement until the end date of your T-32 appointment.

This is largely dependent on the institute within the NIH to which you are applying. If you have previously applied for a Diversity Supplement, you should consult with the project officer at the institute that funded the parent grant. You can apply for a Diversity Supplement at each stage of your career, but you have to show that you are progressing towards independence. 

You should contact your NIH institute-specific project officer early in the application process.