National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

The National Science Foundation CAREER awards are National Science Foundation awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research, education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. The award comes with a federal grant for research and education activities for five consecutive years. NSF grants these awards once a year.

In 1983 the Presidential Young Investigators (PYI) program was initiated. It remained active until the NSF New Young Investigators (NYI) program replaced it in 1992. Both programs were research-oriented and funded an average of 200 faculty per year. Another, more selective program began in 1992, when the White House asked NSF to institute the Presidential Faculty Fellows (PFF) program. The PFF awarded young faculty up to $100,000 per year for five years with no matching-fund option. The PFF also put more emphasis on education and outreach activities. In 1994, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program was approved by NSF's National Science Board. The first awards were made in FY 1995. Several programs were terminated and their objectives incorporated into CAREER.

The most recent shift occurred in 1996, when the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) program was instituted, replacing the PFF awards. Beginning in FY 1997, nominees were selected by the NSF from among the "most meritorious first year CAREER awardees supported by the CAREER program." In the same year, the CAREER program announcement termed CAREER "a premier program." When a CAREER awardee is granted a PECASE award, the funding level is adjusted to the maximum amount of $500,000 over a five-year period. A maximum of 20 PECASE awards are granted per year to NSF nominees (and 40 more to nominees of other federal agencies).