Frequently Asked Questions


  1. General
  2. Eligibility
  3. Applications
  4. Selection
  5. Participation
  6. Sponsor


When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for the 2017 VFP Summer Term for both faculty applicants and invited students participants is January 18, 2016 5:00 PM ET.

What are the differences between the Visiting Faculty Program (VFP) and the former Faculty and Student Teams (FaST) Program?

There are several changes that have been implemented with the VFP. Some of these changes are:

  • The application deadline for the Summer Term is now much earlier. Faculty and student participants should plan accordingly to meet the application deadline. All materials must be received by the application deadline.
  • Student participation is now optional. In addition, students must be invited by the applying faculty member and must be from the faculty member’s home academic institution.
  • Applying faculty members my invite up to two student participants, one of which may be a graduate student.
  • Graduate students may participate. However, DOE will provide financial assistance only for their travel to and from the laboratory, and their housing expenses. It is expected that the graduate student’s academic institution provides stipend support for their daily living expenses. DOE will not provide a stipend for graduate students.
  • At the time of application, faculty members must submit a research project proposal that is co-developed with the research staff located at the host DOE laboratory. The proposal guidance is provided on the VFP website at Developing a Research Proposal


Who administers this program for the Department of Energy?

The DOE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists manages this program in collaboration with the participating host DOE National Laboratories.


What is a full-time faculty employee?

A full-time faculty employee is defined as one who is considered to be a faculty member by his or her employing institution, is not characterized as having “adjunct” or “visiting” status, and who meets the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) definition of a full-time employee during the academic year in which application to the Visiting Faculty Program is made. The IRS defines a full-time employee as one who during a calendar month is employed on average for at least 30 hours of paid service per week or 130 hours of paid service per month.

What is a full-time student?

A full-time student is defined as a student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses the school considers to be full-time attendance (as defined by the Internal Revenue Service).

May I invite graduate students to participate in the VFP project?

Yes. You can invite up to two students to participate in the VFP, one of which may be a graduate student. All student participants must meet the student eligibility requirements. Students must be from your home academic institution, and can only be invited by you through the online application system. Invited students will need to apply online as instructed in the automated invitation and must complete and submit their online application by the application deadline. Student participation is subject to final approval by the collaborating DOE research staff member.

For non-US citizens, may an application be made if I or one of my invited student participants does not hold a Lawful Permanent Resident card at the time of application, but will be obtained before the appointment starts?

No. Students must meet all the student eligibility requirements at the time of applying. Eligibility requires that participants be U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Resident at the time of applying.

This program states that it provides opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. If one of my students will graduate before the summer for which the team is applying, is that student eligible to participate?

If the student is an undergraduate, the student may participate if (1) they have not yet started a program of graduate study and will not matriculate as a graduate student prior to completing the VFP term and (2) the time period between completing their undergraduate degree and starting the VFP term is less than one year. Eligibility requires that graduate students must be currently enrolled in an ongoing graduate program to participate.

I’m a faculty member at a community college. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, if you meet all other faculty eligibility requirements.

I’ve participated in the VFP and its former Faculty and Student Teams (FaST) program for three Summer Terms in the past, am I eligible to apply?

No - The maximum number of times a faculty member can participate in the VFP and/or FaST program is three terms, so you would not be eligible to apply for a fourth year.

I'm planning to recruit an undergraduate student, but the student won't be 18 years old for another year. Can the student still participate as a team member?

Yes, but only if the student will be at least 18 years of age by the time the Summer Term begins (May 2013) and has completed at least one year as a matriculating undergraduate student at the time of applying..

Are VFP participants required to have health insurance coverage to apply, or can they wait until the team is selected to acquire it?

All VFP participants must have proof of health insurance coverage in order to begin the VFP appointment. Participants need to plan ahead to ensure (and be able to verify) that they have or will have health insurance prior to beginning their appointment.


Can I apply to more than one program within the same term?

No, you can be considered for only one program per term, and may only submit one application per term. The online application system will allow you to access applications for multiple programs (e.g., SULI and CCI, SULI and VFP, etc.) within the same term , but will only allow you to submit once, thereby limiting you to one application. Once the first submission is made, the system will block additional submission attempts within that term, regardless of program, and will return a message stating that a submission has already been received.

Can applications be sent by e-mail or postal mail?

No, all applications must be submitted online through the online application system. Applications sent to DOE or in any other manner will not be considered.

Do applications made now remain active for consideration next year?

No, your application will only be kept on record for the current application period. You must reapply to be considered for next year.

Do Student Participants have to submit their applications by the deadline?

Yes. The application must be completed, including submission of the required two letters of recommendations and transcripts, by the application deadline to be considered for VFP participation.

How do faculty invite a student to apply to the VFP?

To complete their application, faculty applicants must enter their Research Project abstract and also upload their full research proposal as an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) formatted file. To include student participants as part of the Experimental Team, please describe their role on the proposal cover page (see proposal instructions.pdf file (103KB)). Once the proposal abstract and file sections of the application are complete, a “Student Participants” tab will be accessible allowing you to invite students. Please use this tab to invite student applicants. Students must be from the same institution as the faculty member, and can only apply following receipt of a system-generated VFP student invitation.

Do I have to click the “Submit Application” button in order to make the system send the automated email recommendation requests?

No, you can request your recommenders as soon as you begin the application by submitting the name and contact email in the recommender section of the application. An automated email will be sent to your recommender which includes instructions on how they are to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf. You are responsible for ensuring that the contact email you provide is accurate, and that the recommenders submit their recommendation online before the application deadline.

Do my recommendation letters need to reach you by the deadline?

Yes, the two required letters of recommendations must be submitted electronically by the application deadline. Recommenders must submit their letter through the online form, letters in any other format will not be accepted.

Can letters of recommendation be sent by e-mail?

No, recommenders must use the electronic process. A URL unique to your application will be sent to the individuals you selected to submit a recommendation on your behalf. Each person writing a recommendation for you will complete the online recommendation form and submit it electronically. This is the only way to ensure that your recommendations are properly linked with your application.

What do I do if my recommender does not receive the system-generated message requesting my recommendation?

If the application system generated email request for recommendation is not received by the recommender, please check that their email address is entered correctly on the application, or advise the recommender to check their email filter settings. Depending on these filter settings, the recommendation request email message might have been received into a “Trash” or “Spam” message inbox. Recommenders will receive the Recommender Request via email from, and to ensure delivery, they may also consider adding onto their safe recipients list.

Can I delete a recommendation and replace it with another?

You are unable to delete recommendations. You are allowed up to 3 recommendation requests for your application, but the first two that are completed in the system will be the only ones included with your application for review.

How do I enter my cumulative GPA?

Beginning with the 2015 Summer Term, the online application system will automatically calculate your cumulative GPA using information you enter directly from your transcript(s). The total number of accredited undergraduate institutions attended as a matriculating student must be entered. Based on this entry, the system will require entry of semester hour and quality point information for each attended institution. Additionally, a transcript for each listed institution must be uploaded into the application system.

What is a matriculated student?

A matriculated student is defined as one who has applied for, been formally admitted to, and has registered for one or more courses in a degree granting program to which he/she has been admitted.

Does my co-developed research proposal need to reach you by the deadline?

Yes, for faculty applicants, the research proposal must be submitted electronically by the application deadline. All applicants must complete and submit their proposal only through the online file upload system.

Must all faculty applicants submit a research proposal when completing an application?

Yes, a co-developed research proposal is required from all faculty applicants.

Will you let me know if I am missing parts of my application?

The online application system will highlight the required elements of the application that have not been completed. You will not be able to submit your final application until all the requirement elements have been completed.

I’m an applying faculty member, do I have to click on the “Submit Application” button to complete the faculty portion of the online application before asking my students to submit their applications online?

No. The student portions of the application may be submitted at any time after you have started the faculty online application. The students will use a system-generated unique URL that will automatically link their portion of the application to your portion of the application.

Are VFP student applicants required to submit transcripts?

Yes. The VFP Student Participant application requires transcripts for all undergraduate education, and graduate transcripts if applying as a graduate student. To be eligible, applicants are required to provide transcripts for every college or university that they have listed as attended on their DOE SULI application. This must be the most recent transcript(s) available at the time of application. You must upload a “.pdf” copy of all undergraduate official/unofficial transcripts to the online application system. See the information on submitting transcripts on the How to Apply page.

Can I submit unofficial transcripts?

There are two forms of unofficial transcripts that are acceptable to submit with your completed application:

  1. An official transcript that has been signed by the university/college registrar sent to you in a sealed envelope that you have opened (and thus is unofficial) and scanned and social security numbers and date of birth blackened out prior to uploading into the application system, or
  2. An unofficial transcript provided electronically to you directly from your university/college either via a website or email and is marked “unofficial.”

PDF copies of transcripts uploaded into the system must be clearly legible, must be labeled with your name and the name of the university/college, must clearly show all courses and course grades and cumulative GPA, and must have your social security number and date of birth blackened out. Transcripts that do not clearly identify the applicant’s name and institution or are not legible will be considered invalid.

Why must Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as Social Security numbers and birth dates be removed?

The Department of Energy has Directives regarding the use and protection of PII on its computer systems. To minimize the risk of identity theft, and to protect applicants, any submitted transcripts or application materials must have all social security numbers and/or dates of birth removed (blanked out, blackened out, made illegible, etc.) prior to uploading into the application system. Any applications found to contain PII in the form of Social Security numbers and/or dates of birth will be deemed non-compliant and will not be released to host laboratories or facilities for review or consideration. 

I’m an eligible faculty member interested in applying, how do I find a research collaborator at a DOE laboratory?

We recommend that you explore the laboratories' websites to begin identifying scientists, programs, or divisions that have common research interests to your own. When you find a laboratory with research areas of interest, we strongly encourage you contact the relevant research staff or the Laboratory VFP Contact for that laboratory listed on the VFP website to initiate discussions. The Laboratory VFP Contacts can also help you identify which research scientists at the laboratory hold common research interests to yours, and provide their contact information.


How does the selection process work?

To be considered, an applicant must meet all eligibility criteria and have submitted an application comprising all required materials. Prior to the merit assessment and evaluation, an initial review of all applications will be conducted to verify applicant eligibility and ensure all the required application materials have been provided. Applications will then be subject to a merit review and selection process. From the highly ranked applications, research advisors at the host laboratories select those applicants whose skills, knowledge, and research interests are best aligned with their ongoing research programs.

How are applications judged?

Faculty applicants will be assessed based on professional and scientific accomplishments, strength of recommendations letters; expressed scientific interests, experience, interests in engaging in research and alignment of research interests with R&D programs the DOE national laboratories.

Student applications will be assessed based upon the applicant’s performance in completed academic coursework, and especially coursework in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM); strength of recommendations letters and expressed scientific interests, and interests in engaging in research.

Why am I asked if I have participated in any other DOE programs? Does answering yes to this questions help or hurt my chances of being selected?

Your response to this question will not affect the selection process for your application. DOE collects this for internal information purposes only to gauge whether applicants know about or have participated in other DOE programs.

What are my chances of getting selected?

The chances of being selected depend on many factors: the total number of applications submitted, the availability of funds, and the alignment of faculty research interest with available DOE laboratory research staff. These factors vary each year so it is not possible to determine an individual’s chances of being selected for any given application cycle.

Is this program only for natural science, engineering, mathematics, or computer science majors?

The Visiting Faculty Program focuses on providing research opportunities in areas of science, engineering, technology and mathematics relevant to and supported by the Department of Energy R&D programs.

When and how will I find out if I've been selected?

You will receive an e-mail message from DOE notifying you of your selection. The status page of your application account will also indicate if you have been selected for an appointment offer.

Laboratory research advisors are not authorized to make appointment offers to you directly. Official notification must come first from DOE and then from the laboratory education office.

If I don't get selected this time, will my application be reviewed again next year automatically or do I have to reapply?

You must reapply.


What if I can only participate for a portion of the appointment period due to other commitments?

Participation requires a full time commitment for the duration of the appointment period (10 weeks) by the VFP participants. Participants should plan to be at the DOE laboratory full-time and avoid obligations that will interrupt the laboratory research appointment.

Is there any flexibility in start and end dates?

Appointments are for 10 weeks, and although you must participate for the entire appointment period, you may have flexibility at some laboratories for start and end dates. Some DOE laboratories may have set dates. If you are extended an offer and you have restricted availability, check with the laboratory to see if it can accommodate you.

Do I get any vacation during the appointment period?

The program does not include vacation or sick leave. You are not expected to be present on days that your laboratory is closed due to a holiday. Most laboratory research staff will help you design a schedule that is mutually agreeable.

How often do I receive a stipend payment and where does it come from?

You will receive your stipend check according to a pre-arranged schedule from the DOE laboratory hosting and administering your appointment. It varies from lab to lab. Once you have accepted an offer, you will be given a pay schedule.

What is my tax liability for the stipend I am paid as a participant in this program?

DOE cannot give participants tax advice. All stipends paid to you are reported to the Internal Revenue. Some laboratories do not withhold taxes from these payments; participants at these labs should give consideration to filing Form 1040-ES on a quarterly basis and paying estimated income taxes in order to avoid late payment penalties. Participants should consult a tax expert with their questions.

What kind of travel reimbursement will I receive?

You will be reimbursed for inbound and outbound travel between your home or school and the appointment site, if the distance is more than 50 miles one way. Reimbursements are made according to the standard travel policy of the DOE laboratory administering your appointment.

Where will I live?

It depends on the host DOE laboratory. Some sites have housing already arranged or have onsite housing; at others you need to arrange it yourself (these sites generally provide information to help you.). The program generally provides either a housing allowance or pre-arranged housing. Housing allowances are taxable. In some cases, your housing situation may result in costs to you over and above the housing allowance. Participants are responsible for any cost overages. In some cases, students who live within 50 miles of the host site are not eligible for housing or housing allowances.

Can Student Participants receive undergraduate credit for Summer Term?

Students will need to check with their university/college to see if the research experience qualifies for college credit. DOE and the laboratory that administers the appointment can provide the student with the appropriate documentation if their university/college does provide this option.

By participating in this program as a faculty or student, do they become an employee of the host laboratory, or DOE?

This varies from lab to lab. At some laboratories participants will be considered a temporary employee. At others they will be considered a program participant and will not enter into an employer/employee relationship with the host laboratory, or DOE.

Whom should I contact if I have problems which I have been unable to resolve on-line?

You can send your questions to DOE here.

What forms of government issued photo-identification do host institutions accept?

The 2005 REAL ID Act prohibits Federal Agencies from accepting non-REAL-ID Act compliant driver’s licenses as proof of identity for access to restricted (i.e., non-public access) areas of their facilities.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has determined that regular driver’s licenses (and ID cards) from the following jurisdictions are not acceptable (current as of October, 15, 2014):

  • American Samoa, Arizona, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Washington

Acceptable alternate forms of Photo-ID include:

  • U. S. Passport or Passport Card
  • An Enhanced Driver’s License or Enhanced ID-Card issued by the states of Minnesota, New York, or Washington
  • A military ID or other government issued Photo-ID card

For the latest information on the REAL ID act, including states currently issuing non-compliant ID documents, please visit:


What is the source of funding for this program?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science provides the funding for this program.

Why is the DOE involved in education?

For over 50 years the Department of Energy has supported the education and training of scientists, engineers, and technology specialists to maintain the scientific and technical workforce needed to address the Department’s and Nation’s complex challenges in energy, national security, the environment, and discovery science.

How do I properly acknowledge WDTS support in publications or presentations?

To help maintain accountability and accuracy of its federally-mandated assessment and reporting functions, WDTS requires funded work to appropriately acknowledge its support in the presentations and publications resulting from its funding. When acknowledging WDTS support, please use the following statement - “This work was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) under the Visiting Faculty Program (VFP).”

Last modified: 10/7/2016 5:27:36 PM