Broader Impacts Resource Center

Penn State Eberly College of Science Outreach Office




Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This FAQ page will be regularly updated as we receive new questions from the Penn State community.

What is Broader Impacts?

Broader Impacts is one of two merit review criteria, along with Intellectual Merit, that the National Science Foundation (NSF) expects proposers to fully address in their proposals. As defined in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (Ch. III Section A), the Broader Impacts criteria considers the proposal’s “potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.”

Are there specific types of Broader Impacts activities that the NSF looks for?

No. Though various documents produced by the NSF and other Broader Impacts-focused organizations have shared examples of what other researchers have done, there is no specific set of activities that the NSF is looking for.  The more important element is to propose activities that leverage your unique expertise and resources to achieve socially relevant outcomes.

How does Broader Impacts apply to me if I’m a grad student?

Applicants for the NSF’s prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program are required to describe their past experience with and future plans for Broader Impacts activities in their statements. Since many students with equally impressive Intellectual Merit apply from all over the country, having a strong Broader Impacts section is critical for improving your changes! Go here to learn more about how to create a strong Broader Impacts section of your GRFP application.

Questions? Comments?

Please email us at if you have any questions or suggestions for how we can improve this resource center!  Additionally, we would love to hear if you have Broader Impacts grant or activity examples you would like to share!

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