American Chemical Society: Grants for STEM Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The American Chemical Society (ACS) is one of the leading professional societies for chemists in the United States. Its awards run the gamut and include fellowships, scholarships, professional development opportunities, and research support across numerous career stages (high school teachers and students through post-docs and accomplished researchers) and sub-disciplines (everything from petroleum to pharmaceuticals).

IP TAKE: ACS awards are all over the map in every sense of the phrase—geographically, in dollar amount, and in target group and recipient. The bottom line: If you’re working in the field of chemistry from high school through the post-doctorate level and you're willing to do a little digging, ACS almost certainly has something to offer you.

PROFILE: Closing in on a century and a half since its foundation, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is a prominent “professional organization for chemists and related occupations.” As with any professional society, ACS operates on a number of fronts—public education and advocacy, peer-reviewed journals and other publications, member career development and networking, job fairs, and other activities. ACS offers millions of dollars annually in research funding across a range of chemistry-related disciplines.

ACS divides its funding into separate categories: Grants, Awards, ACS Fellows, Scholarships, and Hach Programs (the last of these has been administered by ACS since 2009, when the Hach Scientific Foundation transferred its assets to ACS). Each of these funding streams is, in turn, subdivided into a number of sub-areas.

Navigating this web of funding streams can be confusing, but digging in will reveal lots of funding options, including those for high-level academic research, improving instruction in high school classrooms, and many others.

For research grants, start with the ACS Petroleum Research Fund (PRF). Through this fund, grants are awarded as seed money "to enable an investigator to initiate a new research direction." Researchers must also engage in “fundamental research in ‘the petroleum field.’” Awards are available for faculty from universities with doctoral programs as well as those in “non-doctoral departments.” There are separate streams for established and early-stage faculty. Past award winners are listed by year near the bottom of this page.

Then there is the Teva Pharmaceuticals Marc A. Goshko Memorial Grant Program, which “supports academic researchers in the fields of organic and medicinal chemistry” through three awards of $100,000 per year for three years for each giving cycle.

Lastly, ACS Green Chemistry grants vary in focus by year, but maintain the overarching goal of “advanc[ing] research in green chemistry by promoting funding, increasing opportunities, and developing information on the benefits of green chemistry.” ACS also acts as advisor to grants given by the Herman Frasch Foundation for Chemical Research.

There are also fellowships, like the Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellowship, which awards $55,000 per year for two years “to a Ph.D. candidate who will pursue research at the chemistry and biology interface.”

ACS also sponsors two fellowships directed at public policy. The first of these, the Congressional fellowship, is jointly administered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and places two scientists in the office of the Congressman or Senator of their choice, both to improve representatives’ understanding of science-related issues and to better inform scientists about how government works. The second award, the ACS Public Policy Fellowship, “places one fellow in the ACS Office of Public Affairs (OPA) for one to two years,” where they will engage, educate, and advocate to public decision makers.

Direct support to students of many stripes also comes through ACS Scholarships. Awards include:

  • Scholarships to study chemistry for college freshmen and high school seniors from underrepresented groups;
  • Scholarships for former participants in the ACS Project SEED Program (which offers fellowships to high school students from low-income and underrepresented groups to participate in a hands-on summer science program);
  • Three scholarships (the ACS-Hach Second Career Teacher ScholarshipsPost-Baccalaureate Teacher Scholarships, and Land Grant (Undergraduate) Teacher Scholarship), each of which gives financial support to individuals at various stages of their academic or professional careers who intend to teach science at the high school level;
  • tremendous range of discipline-specific scholarships through the ACS Technical Division;
  • An award and coverage of travel costs of up to $2,000 for a young “green chemistry scholar” to travel to and “participate in an international green chemistry technical meeting, conference or training program.”

On a more modest level, ACS gives awards of $1,000 to $5,000 each year for industry-related achievements in such areas as Creative Invention, multidisciplinary team innovationindustrial chemistryadvancing diversity in the field, exemplary partnerships across different fields (e.g. “industry, academia, government, small business and/or other organizations”), and “outstanding research” in either industrial chemistry or chemical engineering. Awardees in these areas are nominated for consideration—they do not apply for the awards themselves.

In short, there is something for nearly everyone at ACS, whether you're a high school student or an accomplished researcher. If you’re working in the field of chemistry and willing to do a little digging, ACS almost certainly has something to offer.


  • Donna J. Nelson, President