Reference Letters

Some types of programs, such as fellowships (F) or mentored research career development (K) awards, require you to request letters of reference before you apply.

Follow the full instructions on NIH’s Reference Letters page, as well as any additional special instructions in your chosen funding opportunity and the SF 424 Application Guide.

We emphasize the following points:

  • Your sponsors or co-sponsors cannot count toward your required total of reference letters.
  • People writing your reference letters must submit them by the application deadline.
  • As the applicant, you can check the status of the letters in the eRA Commons, but you may not read them since they are confidential.
  • For postdoctoral grant applications that require reference letters, a letter from your predoctoral thesis advisor is not required. 

Learn more using the links above, NIH’s Frequently Asked Questions on Letters of Reference, and the eRA video tutorial on Submitting Reference Letters Through eRA Commons.

More Information

Find our central list of Types of Letters for Grant Applications.

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