Department of Defense Research Grants and How to Apply Grants
November 17, 2023

As a researcher, obtaining funding for your work is crucial. Government grants provide an attractive source of funding for many scientists and scholars. The Department of Defense funds a wide range of research through multiple agencies and programs. If you have a project that aligns with their priorities, these grants represent an opportunity to advance your research with the support of substantial funding. However, the application process can be complicated and time-consuming. With careful preparation and by following the necessary steps, you can craft a competitive proposal for DoD research funding. In this article, we will explore the various DoD research grant programs, eligibility requirements, the application process, and tips for submitting a compelling proposal. With persistence and the right approach, DoD grants can provide the means for you to pursue ambitious and meaningful research.

Department of Defense Research Grants

Overview of Department of Defense Research Grants

The Department of Defense (DoD) offers research funding through several programs to support studies in fields that align with their mission and priorities. To be eligible, you must be associated with a U.S. academic institution, non-profit research organization or private industry. Proposals are evaluated based on both scientific merit and potential benefit to the DoD. The DoD’s research funding covers a wide range of topics like biomedical studies, engineering applications, social and behavioral sciences, and more. Some well-known programs include:

  1. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) which funds research in aerospace, chemical and material sciences, physics and electronics, and mathematics and computing.
  2. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) which supports research in fields like oceanography, advanced materials, biotechnology, and others relevant to naval needs.
  3. The Army Research Office (ARO) which focuses on research areas that support army modernization priorities like artificial intelligence, quantum information science, hypersonics, and network science.

To apply for DoD research funding, you must submit detailed proposals outlining your research plan, methodology, objectives, and budget. Proposals are evaluated based on scientific merit, technical approach, qualifications of researchers, facilities and equipment, and potential benefits. If selected for funding, grants are awarded for 1-5 years. Continued funding is contingent upon progress reports and renewing your proposal.

By supporting innovative research in critical areas, DoD research grants fuel discoveries and technological breakthroughs to support national security. If you conduct research aligned with their priorities, these grants provide an opportunity to advance your work and contribute to the mission.

Eligibility Requirements for DoD Research Grants

To be eligible for a DoD research grant, you must meet several requirements.


You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Some programs require U.S. citizenship. Check with the specific DoD agency to confirm eligibility.


You must be employed by or affiliated with an accredited U.S. college, university, or research institution as a faculty member to serve as the principal investigator. Postdoctoral fellows and research scientists may also be eligible to apply as principal investigators at some agencies.


You typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Most programs require an advanced degree such as a master’s, doctorate (Ph.D.) or medical degree (M.D.). Some agencies may consider experience and expertise in lieu of an advanced degree.


You must submit a proposal outlining your research project, methodology, objectives, budget, and timeline. Proposals go through a competitive peer review process to determine which studies will receive funding. Only the highest-ranked proposals that meet the agencies’ missions and goals will be awarded grants.

In summary, to be considered for a Department of Defense research grant, you need to meet all eligibility criteria, especially regarding citizenship, institutional affiliation, education, experience, and submitting a highly-rated research proposal that is innovative, feasible and relevant to the DoD’s areas of interest. With thorough preparation and persistence, you have a chance to obtain funding for your important work.

How to Apply for a DoD Research Grant

To apply for a Department of Defense research grant, you will need to submit a proposal through the appropriate DoD funding agency. The largest agencies are the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Army Research Office (ARO). Each has its own application process, but here are the general steps:

Find the Right Program

Browse the funding opportunities on the DoD agency websites to find programs that match your area of research. Take note of the program goals, deadlines, award amounts and eligibility criteria to determine if your project is a good fit. Some programs require partnerships with DoD labs or contractors, so factor that into your planning.

Prepare the Proposal

Your proposal should include details about your research objectives, methodology, outcomes, timeline, budget, and qualifications. Follow the guidelines provided for content, formatting, and page limits. Have colleagues review and provide feedback before submitting.

Submit through

Register with, the official government website for grants. Submit your final proposal package including all required forms like the SF-424 and budget justification. Double check that you have included everything requested in the program announcement. Late or incomplete submissions will not be reviewed.

Undergo Review

Your proposal will be evaluated based on its scientific merit and relevance to the DoD’s research priorities. It will go through a competitive peer review process. You may be asked to provide additional information or make revisions to your proposal. The entire review process can take 6-18 months before final funding decisions are made.

Receive and Manage the Award

If selected for funding, you will receive an award letter with details about administering the grant. This includes requirements for reporting progress, managing funds and property, and sharing data/outcomes with the DoD. Carefully follow all terms and conditions to keep your grant in good standing.

With thorough preparation and persistence, you can navigate the DoD grant application process successfully. But be aware that funding is highly competitive, so you may need to apply multiple times before being awarded. Don’t get discouraged—every attempt will make you a stronger candidate for the next opportunity.

READ ALSO: David and Lucile Packard Foundation Grant: Who Qualifies and How to Get Funding


As you have seen, the Department of Defense offers a wide range of grant opportunities for innovative research and development projects. While the application process can seem daunting, by focusing on a well-defined project scope, assembling a strong research team, and crafting a compelling proposal, you can position yourself well to take advantage of these funding resources. Though funding is not guaranteed, with persistence and determination you can achieve great success. Do not let uncertainty stop you from pursuing your vision. Apply for these grants, push the boundaries of knowledge in your field, and make discoveries that could change the world. The future is unwritten, and it is up to researchers like you to shape it for the better.


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