Help! I’m submitting an NIH fellowship application and need a Commons ID. How do I get one?

Let’s start with what eRA Commons and a Commons ID are.

eRA Commons

The NIH describes eRA Commons as “an online interface where grant applicants, grantees and federal staff at NIH and grantor agencies can access and share administrative information relating to research grants. You will use eRA commons throughout the lifecycle of a grant – from application submission to grant closeout.” It’s helpful to learn how to work with the eRA Commons interface early in your research career as you will use it throughout your career to submit and manage NIH grants.

Commons ID

In order to use eRA Commons you must establish a Commons ID and have appropriate roles associated with your profile. This account follows you from one organization to the next throughout your NIH research career. If you were listed on a NIH training grant as an undergraduate you may already have a Commons ID. If you’re unsure, reach out to your grants manager for assistance. (If you aren’t sure who your grants manager is, your graduate or fellowship program administrator can typically point you to the right person.)

In addition to the Commons ID, the NIH also now requires you to establish an ORCID for grant submissions. Information on the ORCID and how to create an account.

Creating a Commons ID

If you have determined you do not have a Commons ID from a previous institution, the first step to creating one is reaching out to someone at your institution who has the appropriate eRA Commons role (SO, AO, AA, BO) to do so. Typically, grants managers and those in your institution’s sponsored programs office can assist with this process.

That individual will create a user ID in eRA Commons that is between 6 and 30 characters and should NOT contain special characters except the @ sign, the hyphen, the period, and the underscore. You may suggest a user ID to your grants manager and they can confirm whether it is available for use.

Once the user ID is created, you will receive an email from eRA Commons asking you to finalize your profile creation. To do so, log in to eRA Commons and complete the “Personal Profile” section, which asks you to enter items such as your name, title, demographic information, and education.

What Role Do I Need?

Now you have your eRA Commons account established and are ready to submit a fellowship application. Contact your grants manager and ask them to add the role of PD/PI to your account as you will be the Principal Investigator of the grant.

Additional Help

If you still have questions about your eRA Commons account, you can call the eRA Service Desk Monday – Friday from 7:00AM to 8:00PM Eastern Time (except for Federal holidays) toll-free at 1-866-504-9552. Alternatively, you can submit a web ticket (the preferred method of contact) at

Additional Resources

What the F? An Introduction to the NRSA Fellowship

What the F? When to Submit a NRSA Fellowship

What the F? Reference Letter vs Letter of Support

What the F? Childcare Costs Now Allowable on NRSA Fellowships

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1 Comment

Great series – thanks!

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