IGERT Frequently Asked Questions

IGERT?  What’s an IGERT?                                                        

IGERT stands for Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, and is a program developed by the National Science Foundation to improve the graduate experience. IGERT provides interdisciplinary graduate training for students who wish to pursue careers in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, or technology (interdisciplinary being the key word here). Approximately 20 new IGERT programs are funded each year, and there are now more than  100 IGERT programs at universities across the United States. Each program is unique in its curricular and research focus. Students interested in pursuing Ph.D.s in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, or technology can select and apply to IGERT programs that suit their interests. Students accepted into an IGERT program then begin a rigorous course of interdisciplinary study (that’s the integrative graduate education and research part) and will receive $30,000 a year plus tuition and fees (that’s the traineeship part).

What are the deep goals and ideals of the NSF IGERT program?

The National Science Foundation introduction to the IGERT program says, “The IGERT program has been developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists, engineers, and educators with the interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills to become in their own careers the leaders and creative agents for change. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education, for students, faculty, and institutions, by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is also intended to facilitate greater diversity student participation and preparation, and to contribute to the development of a diverse, globally-engaged science and engineering workforce.”

Why interdisciplinary?  

'In the last 10 years, there has been a growing realization that the really big problems in science are not going to be solved within one discipline. The big complex problems, like those affecting the environment or advances in information technology, will require expertise from many areas.” - Jim Teeri, Director, IGERT National Recruitment Program.

The issues that surround most "real life" problems and their complex solutions are multifaceted and complex. For example, policy decisions must be informed by science; social values and economics affect whether or not a solution is desirable or feasible. IGERT programs seek to train researchers who will recognize cross-disciplinary issues and communicate with professionals from other disciplines to find creative interdisciplinary solutions for these problems.


What’s special about an IGERT education? Why would I want to be an IGERT student?

IGERT programs focus on problem-centered training, delimited not by the boundaries of an academic discipline, but by the demands of solving a problem. IGERT programs combine interdisciplinary science with practical experience, giving their students deep knowledge in their disciplines as well as a combination of technical, professional and personal skills that enables them to be leaders and creative agents for change in their fields. Other benefits include-

  • A sizeable $30,000 stipend
  • An annual allowance of $10,500 for tuition and expenses
  • Funds for research equipment and supplies
  • Research assistanceship and teaching assistanceship opportunities
  • Opportunities for international experience
  • Internships in industry and government
  • Work with similar-minded graduate students from different disciplines on similar research topics
  • Great post-IGERT career and employment options


What are the employment and career opportunities after IGERT?                                        

A major objective of NSF’s IGERT program is to train students in areas where industry, government, and academic institutions are experiencing a shortfall. IGERT graduates may work in industries ranging from pharmaceutics to petrochemicals; government laboratories devoted to health, commerce, or energy; small teaching colleges and major research universities. An important benefit of the IGERT programs is that most students have opportunities to sample these locations during their training. This makes it easier to decide on the right environment.


How long does it take?

Usually four to five years, but this depends on the program you select and on you!


Who are the IGERT students?

To meet a few of our IGERT students (trainees) and see what they’re doing, click here.


Who are the IGERT faculty?         

There are many IGERT teaching faculty in each program. Click here to see our faculty listing.


What kind of student should apply to an IGERT program?                                        

Someone who wants to be a scientist for the future – more flexible, more collaborative, more adept at linking issues in the life, earth, and social sciences; and more able to solve the global issues that face us today.

IGERT student qualifications:

  • demonstrated strong interest and motivation in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics;
  • completed a bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline; and
    U.S. citizen or permanent resident.


Can I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?                                         

Sorry, but no. Please apply instead to a traditional graduate educational program by contacting the department most closely allied to your research interests. If you are accepted to a department affiliated with an IGERT program, however, you may experience many “spillover” benefits from the IGERT project.


Are fellowships taxable or not?                                                                       

Depending on the circumstances and how you file, you may owe $1,000 to $3,000 at the end of the year in taxes (this is not exact).

We suggest that you set aside one of your monthly payments. This will most likely cover a bulk of the taxes owed at the end of the year.

Since this is a fellowship, you will not receive a W-2 or a 1099.

The following is taken from the IRS website:

Students only: In general, those portions of a scholarship, fellowship, or grant used to pay tuition, fees, books, supplies, or equipment are classified as a "Qualified Scholarship" and are not includible in the gross income of the recipient under I.R.C. § section 117 if the recipient is a candidate for a degree. Any portion of the scholarship, fellowship, or grant that does not correlate to the five items mentioned above is includible in the gross income of the recipient, which means that it is subject to withholding.

Please contact your tax preparer for specifics on your individual tax return.


How do I apply to the IGERT doctoral program?

Application process: 

1. Apply to a Ph.D. program of one of the participating IGERT departments (2b below).  Please note that departmental application deadlines vary from January 15 to late February. 

2. Contact an IGERT faculty member to discuss your research and program interests. Additional department information and application procedures are available from these IGERT participating departments:

Agricultural Economics
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Grain Science and Industry

3. Once you have been accepted in the applicable department as a Ph.D. student, send a "complete" copy of your departmental application materials: undergraduate / graduate academic records, GRE scores, previous research and community service experience, etc. in a PDF file to the I-STAR program director at igert@ksu.edu

4. In addition, please send a one-page essay to the IGERT program director at this email address: igert@ksu.edu.  Include the faculty member(s) you are interested in working with, and the director of graduate studies for the department to which you are applying. In your letter, outline your research and career goals, and experiences, and indicate how they would be advanced by participation in the IGERT program.

5. Admission as an IGERT trainee is determined
on a competitive basis by an interdisciplinary committee of participating faculty members.

For additional information regarding student opportunities and the application process, please contact the I-STAR Program Director Dr. Mary Rezac at igert@ksu.edu

Can I receive an IGERT fellowship if I am admitted to a different department?

Unfortunately, at this time, students in other KSU doctoral programs are not eligible to receive an IGERT fellowship. They are welcome, however, to participate in IGERT-sponsored workshops and other activities, and should contact the IGERT program staff or faculty to express their interest.


As an IGERT trainee, what obligations do I have to the IGERT program?

IGERT trainees participate in IGERT workshops, seminars, and collaborative research in addition to their own thesis research. In most cases, IGERT research will not exactly align with student's thesis research, but will enhance their research skills, expand their academic perspective and knowledge base, and provide valuable learning experiences and contacts with faculty and students from other disciplines.


What do you mean by “collaborative research?"

The IGERT group, which includes faculty, researchers, post-doctoral associates, and students, undertakes most of its research activities in a collaborative manner. For instance, groups are currently working on papers that will include retrospective cases of once-emerging technologies as well as issue-oriented papers such as computing and personalization. These groups include students from different disciplines, and are coordinated by faculty or research staff. Students independently pursue their own contributions to the research, but meet regularly as a group to discuss how the different disciplines structure the research problem and how to combine their collective perspectives and methodologies to produce a more comprehensive and insightful academic work. Our IGERT trainees generally find this approach to research to be a rewarding addition to the more solitary thesis research typically pursued by doctoral students.


Do the IGERT requirements present any conflict with departmental requirements?

No. IGERT trainees do have some additional course requirements and assigned research compared to other students in their home departments, but they do not conflict with home department requirements. IGERT principal investigators represent all three of the collaborating programs. They work carefully together to structure the IGERT fellowship, including its course requirements and research expectations, to complement and enhance the students’ home department requirements. IGERT faculty also meet regularly with IGERT students’ home department advisors to help coordinate the oversight of their progress towards graduation.


What’s a "fellowship"?                                        

A fellowship is a training program consisting of a curriculum funded by a grant from an agency such as the National Science Foundation. The curriculum is established to fulfill a particular strategic goal of the agency. Students participating in the program are “trainees” and Faculty are “mentors”.


How much does an IGERT trainee receive?

IGERT trainees' funds are set by the National Science Foundation. Through a combination of NSF funds and KSU contributions, students receive full tuition as well as a generous stipend. The stipend, $30,000 and a $10,500 per year allowance, is higher than the standard Ph.D. stipend paid by departments or research grants.


How many years of doctoral study are covered by the IGERT fellowship?

The IGERT program expects to cover most of its trainees for two years, and possibly a third, after which the student should be able to find research sponsorship through his or her departmental advisor. The IGERT funding most typically covers the first and second, or second and third year of doctoral study, depending in part on the student’s home department.

How long the fellowship is good for?                                                                                                                                      

The fellowship is renewable contingent upon satisfactory progress. It can be renewed for up to two years.


How many IGERT students are there currently?                                                        

This program will support the integrated education and research efforts of a total of about 33 separate Ph.D. candidates in engineering, agricultural sciences, and the social sciences.  The precise breakdown between the disciplines will be determined based on the ability to attract outstanding IGERT trainees, and the desire to balance core teams with representation from each area, among other factors. 


What does one have to do for renewal?                                                                                                   

Renewal is initiated by the faculty, and then the program director reviews the student's progress.

Are school fees covered or paid by the student from the stipend given?                                 

While on the fellowship, tuition is covered by the annual allowance. School fees, books, health insurance, etc. are not paid by the fellowship. Students will have to pay these fees out of the annual allowance they are given.


What are requirements of IGERT?                                                                                                             

  • A student's overall GPA should be a 3.0.
  • Students reports are given to the program director when requested.
  • Meet at least monthly with your core research team.    


How does the award compare with the GTA/GRA average stipend?                                         

The stipend given by the fellowship is much higher than that of a GTA/GRA position. A fellowship recipient should keep this in mind for when the fellowship ends. A suggestion might be for the students to live ona budget of what a GTA/GRA makes so that it isn’t such a drastic change when the fellowship ends.

Do students have to find additional summer support?                                                                                       

The fellowship provides summer support.