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How to Apply

Application materials for the McKnight Scholar Awards are available in August/September each year. Applicants must demonstrate interest in solving important problems in relevant areas of neuroscience.

To apply, the principle investigator will need to follow these steps:

  • Download the “Application and Guidelines” document located on the right sidebar. These guidelines will provide further critical details regarding the steps listed below. Please reference the guidelines document throughout.
  • Set up a username and password using the “Start Application” link located on the right sidebar.

(please retain your username and password for future use)

  • Upon login, complete an online face sheet.
  • Upload the entire application as ONE PDF, including:
  1. Completed face sheet.
  2. Biographical sketch in NIH format.
  3. Description of the proposed research project. Applicants should propose experiments based on their best work. The proposal should be introduced with an abstract of 200 words or less, followed by a detailed statement of plans for the three-year research program. The proposed research does not need to present a totally new line of research, but it should not be identical to projects supported by other funders. The proposal (abstract, narrative and figures, but not bibliography) should not exceed six numbered, single-spaced pages, in 12-point font with one-inch margins.
  4. Proposed budget. The applicant should indicate how he/she/they proposes to use the McKnight Scholar Award funds ($225,000 paid in equal installments of $75,000 in 2021, 2022, and 2023). Allowable budget items include salaries and fringe benefits, equipment, supplies, animal costs, costs for technical services, etc. The application should include itemized budgets for each year, in a tabulated column/dollar amount format; narrative budgets are not acceptable. Funds cannot be used for overhead or indirect costs.
  5. List of Active and Pending Funding (annual direct costs to lab).
  6. Statement from responsible financial officer at sponsoring institution.
  7. Supporting information from applicant’s chairperson at sponsoring institution.
  8. Five recent publications.
  • Four references from former teachers, supervisors, or senior colleagues familiar with the applicant’s work. Letters of reference must be sent separately and in confidence by the four individuals listed as references on the face sheet of the application.

Selection Process

The McKnight Scholar Awards Review committee (to be updated Fall 2020) will evaluate the applications and select a limited number of applicants to be interviewed. Applicants will be notified in late March and interviews are scheduled for Thursday, April 22 in New York City.

The committee recommends candidates to the Board of Directors of the Endowment Fund for final decision. Awards will be announced in late May 2021.


In this competition, up to six McKnight Scholars will be selected to receive three years of support, beginning July 1, 2021.

Candidates for the McKnight Scholar Awards must have:

  • An M.D., Ph.D., or other suitable doctorate
  • A record of meritorious research
  • Evidence of a commitment to a career in neuroscience
  • Full-time appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor, and must have served at that rank for less than four years at the application deadline. Scientists holding other titles such as Research Assistant Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor Research Track, Visiting Professor or Instructor are not eligible, and time spent in service in those ranks does not count against the four years of service for determining eligibility.
  • Documentation that the sponsoring institution has government approval for the applicant to work in the U.S.

Applicants may not:

  • Be intramural employees such as those at the Allen Institute, National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and similar institutions
  • Apply in more than two rounds of competition
  • Have already been awarded tenure
  • Hold another award from the McKnight Endowment Fund

Amount and Purpose of Support

Each McKnight Scholar will receive $75,000 annually in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Funds may be used in any way that will facilitate development of the Scholar’s research program, but not for indirect costs.

Application & Guidelines


Online Instructions

The application process is completely online. Click below to access the application form.

Start Application


Application due January 4, 2021

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