Eligibility and Application Instructions

The Innovators Program strives to have a diverse representation of universities and encourages applications from early-career faculty who are members of a group that are historically under-represented in social sciences and STEM, including faculty who are Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino, female, and those with disabilities, Veterans and LGBTQA. NCAR is committed to broadening participation in the geosciences and specifically invites scholars from Minority Serving Institutions and those from groups who traditionally have been underrepresented in the sciences to apply.


Who may submit applications to the Innovators Program

Early-career faculty at a U.S. university (includes universities in U.S. territories) who:

  • Hold a doctoral degree in the Social, Policy, or Behavioral Sciences;

  • Are employed full-time at a U.S. University in a tenure-track (or tenure-track-equivalent, see below) position at the time of the proposal submission;

  • Have NOT been previously funded by the Innovator Program as a faculty PI, including funding for pilot studies. Previous students of the Innovator Program, who are now faculty at a U.S. university, are eligible to apply if they meet the eligibility criteria.

  • Are “early-career” per the following definition: By the start of the award period (Sept. 2023), the applicant has completed no more than 1 year in a tenured faculty position (e.g., Associate Professor) at a U.S. university. Faculty are not eligible if they have achieved a tenured (or similar) position at a university outside the U.S. 

  • If the applicant is in a tenure-track equivalent position*, then they can have no more than 6 years in this position.

  • Are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. permanent resident by the time of application. If you are a visa holder, please contact us.

  • Can mentor a graduate student (M.S or Ph.D). One graduate student must be nominated to the Innovator Program before the start of the award (before Sept. 2023). The nominated graduate student must be fully funded (tuition, stipend, and benefits) for the duration of the fellowship period, they must be at the same university as the faculty, and the faculty must be their primary advisor. However, we acknowledge that individual circumstances may not make this possible, and we can accommodate unique situations with advanced notice. It is expected that the graduate student makes a significant contribution to the overall project and is involved in the reporting of results in peer-review literature.

  • Are able to visit NCAR campuses, located in Boulder, Colorado, for a total of eight weeks each year, three of which will be during the summer when the entire cohort will gather.

*Tenure-track equivalency - For a position to be considered a tenure-track-equivalent position, it must meet all of the following requirements: (1) the employee has a continuing appointment at a US university that is expected to last the two years of the Innovator Program appointment; (2) the faculty appointment has substantial research and educational responsibilities; (3) the employee is the primary faculty advisor for the graduate student they nominate (see above); and (4) the proposed project relates to the employee's career goals and job responsibilities as well as to the mission of the applicant’s department or university.

Not eligible

  • Faculty who hold Adjunct Faculty or equivalent appointments.
  • Faculty who have been tenured (e.g., Associate Professor) for more than 1 year
  • Faculty who achieved tenure (or similar) position at a university outside of the U.S.
  • Faculty who have been in a non-tenure-track (a.k.a equivalent) position for more than 6 years

Please See our FAQ page for more information.


Applications for the 2023-2025 Early Career Faculty Innovators program are now closed. Letters of Intent were due May 1st, 2022 and are currently being reviewed by our team. 

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