OAR is currently accepting applications for the Graduate Research Grant Program and Applied Research Competition. Since 2002, OAR has funded over 285 research studies, bringing its funding total to more than $4.2 million. OAR expects to build on this success in 2021, continuing its support of research studies that offer meaningful outcomes to autistic individuals and their families.
Graduate Research Grant Program
OAR invites graduate students to submit research proposals for its annual Graduate Research Grant Program. Since the program was established in 2004, OAR has awarded over $285,000 in grants to fund 161 graduate research studies. Last year, OAR made grants to 12 students with grant awards totaling $18,186. OAR hopes to build on its commitment to support the next generation of applied autism researchers in 2021.
OAR accepts proposals from students pursuing graduate studies in fields related to autism in the United States and abroad. The maximum award for master’s candidates is $1,000, while doctoral and post-doctoral candidates are eligible for a maximum award of $2,000. Interested students may apply online. Proposals will be accepted through Monday, February 8. Interested students should first review the 2021 request for proposals, as well as OAR’s funding guidelines.
The intent of the program is to support independent research in:
- The analysis, evaluation, or comparison of assessment models, treatment models, or service systems.
- Applied aspects of early intervention and school-based education, including behavior and communication.
- Adult issues such as continuing education, employment, housing, and “later intervention.”
- Issues related to family support, social and community integration, and assessment and intervention with challenging behaviors.
OAR’s goal is to fund studies that will likely produce practical and clearly objective results that can help parents, families, professionals, and autistic people make more fully informed choices, leading to healthier and happier lives. OAR will only make grant awards for studies to be conducted during the grant period, which lasts from July 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022.
OAR’s Scientific Council will evaluate the proposals it receives for scientific and technical merit. Review criteria include:
- Significance: Does the study address an important problem? How will it advance scientific knowledge in the field?
- Approach: Are the concepts, design, methods, and analyses adequate and appropriate? Are alternate approaches accounted for?
- Innovation: Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches, or methods? Are its aims original? Does it challenge existing paradigms?
- Meaningful outcomes: OAR places special emphasis on the research’s importance to the autism community and its application to the practical challenges of autism. While a proposal’s scientific merit in terms of design, methodology, and analysis are vital, the meaningfulness of its outcomes will carry great weight in the final review.
OAR’s Board of Directors will make grant awards based on these evaluations and the recommendations of the Scientific Council. OAR will announce grant recipients in May 2021 and make the awards in July 2021. For more information, please contact OAR at or call 703-243-3466.
Applied Research Competition
OAR invites researchers to submit research pre-proposals for the annual Applied Research Competition. The maximum award is $40,000 for pilot studies beginning in 2022 with a duration of one to two years. International researchers are eligible to apply. Pre-proposals will be accepted through Monday, March 22, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET.
Interested researchers may apply online. All applicants should first review the 2021 request for proposals. OAR funds studies that will likely produce practical and clearly objective results that can help parents, families, professionals, and autistic people make more fully informed choices, leading to healthier and happier lives.
OAR will promote evidence-based practices delivered in the following areas:
- The analysis, evaluation, or comparison of current models of assessment, intervention, or systems of service delivery, including policy analysis
- Applied aspects of educational, behavioral, or social/communicative intervention
- Effective intervention across the lifespan for individuals considered to be severely impacted by autism
- Adult issues such as continuing education, employment, residential supports, sexuality instruction, quality-of-life determinants, and “later intervention”
- Issues related to family support, social and community integration, assessment and intervention with challenging behavior, and the use of technology in support of autistic learners
While applicants are always free to submit proposals on any relevant area of research or intervention described above, this year OAR is placing an emphasis on research that addresses the following targeted areas:
- Community-based assessment and intervention for challenging behavior
- Community-engaged research
- Effectiveness of augmentative communication systems
- Healthcare transition / across the lifespan
- Improving access to and effectiveness of existing systems and services
- Integrated employment
- Intersectionality, equity, and diversity
- Mental health assessment and intervention
- Mid-life and older adults
- Residential/community services and supports
OAR will invite a select number of applicants to submit full proposals in June. Grant recipients will be announced in early December 2021, and studies will begin as early as January 1, 2022.
For more information about the Applied Research Competition, please contact OAR at or call 703-243-9762.