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 continued 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. Click here to see current success rates for various NIH funding mechanisms.

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 Research Career Development Awards site, which explains the various types of K awards, lists eligibility criteria, provides the current funding opportunities available, and gives contacts at each institute who can answer your specific questions.

We can provide assistance with K applications.

  • K&R Writers Series
    • The K&R Writers Series is a hands-on grant writing program designed to provide step-by-step instruction, personalized feedback, and a disciplined approach to the development of K, R, or similar grant proposals. For more information, please visit the K&R Writers Series page. If you have any questions, contact Tom Roth at tomroth@wakehealth.edu
  • Scientific Editing Services
    • We have Scientific Editing Services at the CTSI for more in-depth guidance on the preparation of your K proposal's documents. If you would like to request assistance with proposal editing, human subjects section, letters of support, candidate section, or need some guidance on how to get started or how much time you need to prepare a strong proposal, submit an editing service request or a consultation request about editing services to schedule a consultation session.
  • Pre-Award Resources
    • Visit the Office of Sponsored Programs Pre-Award page for additional proposal development resources, including searches for potential grant funding, interpretation of sponsor guidelines, budget questions, and assistance with preparing and submitting an application.
  • Request a Research Studio session
    • CTSI’s Team Science Program created the Research Studio to meet the sometimes difficult-to-define needs around crafting grant proposals, finding collaborators, and fleshing out study teams. If you are interested in requesting your own Research Studio, submit a request today through the CTSI Service Request form. After giving a few details about your study, select the specialties and areas of expertise you think would be most valuable, and list the questions you already know are there. From there, let out Team Science team members coordinate and identify experts right for your Research Studio.
  • Boilerplates
    • We have Boilerplate Text to help with preparation of facilities and resources checklists and templates for the human subjects forms and study record. (Institutional Login required)

Watch NIH Career Award Videos on YouTube and NIH Nexus

Is a K Award Right for Me?

The major goal of Career Development Awards is to provide career development and research training opportunities in order to fill a gap in knowledge or skills that are necessary to advance the career of the candidate. There are various awards for different career stages. It is key to justify in your proposal the need for additional training, as it applies to each career stage.\

Career Development for each Career Stage: According to NIH policies, career stage or independence is determined by the type of funding an investigator has previously obtained, and the level of productivity and leadership on their research field.

See also: New and Early Stage Investigator Policies.

Browse below detailed information about K Award mechanisms according to career stage.

K Award Timeline - When Should I Start?

K Award FAQs