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How to Apply

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

To apply, the principal 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) must not exceed 6 numbered single-spaced pages with 1” margins and 12pt font.
  4. A one-page narrative describing how the applicant is creating an inclusive lab environment and addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in neuroscience.
  5. 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 2024, 2025, and 2026). Allowable budget items include salaries and fringe benefits, equipment, supplies, animal costs, tuition, 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.
  6. List of Active and Pending Funding (annual direct costs to lab).
  7. Statement from responsible financial officer at sponsoring institution.
  8. Supporting information from applicant’s chairperson at sponsoring institution.
  9. Links to five recent publicly-accessible 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 will evaluate the applications and select a limited number of applicants to be interviewed. Applicants will be notified in early April and interviews are scheduled for Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4, 2024 via zoom.

The committee recommends candidates to the Board of Directors of the Endowment Fund for final decision. Awards will be announced in late May 2024.


In this competition, up to ten McKnight Scholars will be selected to receive three years of support, beginning July 1, 2024.

Applicants for the McKnight Scholar Award must be independent investigators at not-for-profit research institutions in the United States and must hold a faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor and must have served at that rank for less than five years at the application deadline (exceptions made be made for parental leave).  Individuals holding other titles such as Instructor, Research Assistant Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor, or Instructor are not eligible. If the host institution does not use professorial titles, a letter from a senior institutional official (e.g. Dean or Director of Research) must confirm that the applicant controls their own dedicated institutional resources, laboratory space, and/or facilities. We seek to enhance geographic, gender, and racial diversity in neuroscience, and we encourage women and members of communities of color to apply. Candidates may not apply in more than two rounds of competition, have already been granted tenure, or hold another award from the McKnight Endowment Fund. A candidate may submit separate applications to both Scholar and Neurobiology of Brain Disorders during the same cycle. If the applicant receives a Scholar Award and becomes a finalist for NBD, their application to NBD would be rescinded as they cannot hold two awards simultaneously.

Please note that from 2024 Forward, the period of eligibility for Scholar Awards has been extended to five years.

Amount and Purpose of Support

Each McKnight Scholar will receive $75,000 annually in 2024, 2025, and 2026. Funds may be used in any way that will facilitate development of the Scholar’s research program, but not for indirect costs.


Application reopens Monday, August 12, 2024

Application Timeline

Next Application Deadline is Monday, January 13, 2025

For Current 2024 Candidate Pool:

  • Finalists selected for interviews notified early April 2024
  • Virtual interviews early May 2024
  • Award Announcement in Mid to Late June 2024