Director's Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Director's Fellowship pairs outstanding scientists, engineers, and analysts who've earned their doctorate within the past 2 years with NREL mentors to propose and conduct innovative clean energy research.

NREL selects fellows in three disciplines—scientists, engineers, and analysts—based on eligibility, program expectations, and research proposals, with overriding consideration for the quality of the candidate. Fellows serve 2-year terms, with a possible third-year renewal paid with program funding.

See current NREL postdoctoral researchers, including Director's Fellowship participants, to learn about their work.


We encourage applications from highly qualified postdocs with a record of superior academic performance, demonstrated research and academic accomplishments in renewable energy technologies, and extraordinary scientific research abilities.

Before applying:

  1. Obtain an NREL researcher/mentor nomination application for submission to the Postdoctoral Research Review Committee. Learn how to find a mentor.
  2. Complete all Ph.D. requirements and hold a post-graduate degree earned within 2 years of the Director's Fellowship application deadline.
  3. Be at an early point in a promising career of world-class research and leadership in an appropriate discipline.
  4. Be prepared to commit to an NREL research program for the full fellowship.

Program Benefits

In addition to the impactful research you'll conduct, fellows can expect the following from the program:

  • Premium salary
  • Competitive NREL benefits
  • Relocation assistance for moves more than 50 miles from NREL
  • A $10,000 research funding allowance to cover expenses for professional development conferences, workshops, meetings, memberships, books, and subscriptions to technical organizations
  • Additional funds to cover project research within the applied laboratory limits, research equipment, materials, software, and supplies required to complete the project.

See more benefits of working at NREL.

Program Expectations

  • Propose research scheduled to meet the laboratory's overall research needs.
  • Submit annual performance evaluation progress reports.
  • Meet the fellowship mentor's and center director's mid-term evaluation/research expectations.
  • Submit a final report—due at the fellowship's conclusion—to include an abstract of the research conducted and copies of publications resulting from the research.

Note: Papers published as a result of research conducted at NREL must comply with NREL publications procedures and be submitted for legal review and approval.


Application Timeline

Steps Spring Applications Fall Applications
Window opens Jan. 1 June 1
Window closes* March 31 Aug. 31
Application review April 1–May 15 Sept. 1–Oct.15
Interviews June 1–21 Nov.1–21
Hire decision Mid-July Mid-December

Application Steps

Applicants must identify an NREL researcher who has a doctorate to mentor the proposed research and acquire a letter of intent to nominate from the identified mentor. See Research to find potential mentors.

  1. Choose one of the following disciplines for your fellowship application: analyst, engineer, or scientist.
  2. Combine all items below into one PDF document, and upload it under the resume option:
    1. Cover page (include name, title of proposal, and NREL mentor)
    2. Curriculum Vitae
    3. A letter of recommendation from your current supervisor or academic adviser
    4. Research proposal—using the proposal template (three pages maximum in 11-point font with references/bibliography, title, and a short abstract)—addressing the long-term science and engineering needs that would support the laboratory's mission and goals, with the following:
      1. Focus on the proposed research and identify an appropriate area within the laboratory to host the research.
      2. Clearly state the research challenges.
      3. Identify the scientific or technological questions that are associated with the challenge.
      4. Define the strategy to address these questions.
      5. Define an approach.
      6. NREL mentor's letter of intent to support the candidate
      7. Names and contact information of two additional individuals from nationally known faculty or scientists in relevant disciplines who are knowledgeable about your capabilities and research
      8. Proof of doctorate degree before the assignment start date.

Applications will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed if submitted without the required information.

For questions, email the Director's Fellowship team.