K Award Toolkit

Why Apply for a K Award?

The NIH Career Development Award Program (K award) provides salary and research support for a sustained period of "protected time" (3-5 years) to ensure a future class of well-trained scientists will become competitive for continue NIH (or equivalent) extramural research support.

NIH data show that individuals who received a K award were more likely to remain in research, publish in scientific or medical journals, and apply for and receive a subsequent NIH R01 grant. Success rates for K awards across institutes are much more favorable than for R01s and R21s at present.

Important elements of K awards that set the stage for a future competitive R01 application include: ability to accrue research experience through the collection of preliminary data, collaboration with a mentoring team, operational experience, and generating publications and presentations. A K award allows awardees to demonstrate new expertise and connect with new collaborators all of which are key elements of a strong R01 application.

Explore the NIH's K Kiosk site, which explains the types of K awards, lists eligibility criteria, and gives contacts at each institute who can answer your specific questions.  Two podcasts about K awards are available, as well as details about funding rates and other strategic information.

We can provide assistance with K applications. See our online resources and register for a K Writer’s Workshop series for more in-depth guidance.

Internal Resources

  • The K Award Writer’s Series is a TSI sponsored 10-session program designed to provide step-by-step instruction, personalized feedback, and a disciplined approach to the development of a K Award grant. The course includes ten sessions over a 6-month period. The target audience is early career faculty who intend to submit or resubmit a K Award or similar career development award.
  • NIH K Award Mechanisms: Dr. Stephen Peters, Professor of Internal Medicine (Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Immunologic Diseases Section), gave this talk as part of an information session to introduce the 2012 “K Award Writers Series” workshop. We include these slides here with his permission.
  • Transitioning your K to an R Award: Dr. Lynne Wagenknecht, Professor and Associate Director of Public Health Sciences, gave this talk as part of the 2011 Research Seminar series sponsored by the Women’s Health Center of Excellence in Research, Leadership, Education. We include these slides here with her permission.
  • Listen to Career Development Podcasts from the NIH:

Is K Award Right for Me?

K Award Timeline - When Should I Start?


K Award FAQs