NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

Apply for Your First NERSC Allocation

Initial Steps Needed to Apply for Your First NERSC Allocation

All work done at NERSC must be within the DOE Office of Science mission.  See the Mission descriptions for each office at Allocations Overview and Eligibility.

Prospective Principal Investigators without a NERSC login need to fill out this online form:

  1. The online ERCAP Access Request Form. If you wish to designate another person to fill out the request form you may designate a "PI Proxy" on this form.

Once we have created an account for you in the ERCAP system, we will send you an email with instructions on how to reset your temporary password and log into

Exploratory Allocations

Many new NERSC projects begin with an Exploratory allocation, particularly if they are new to HPC or are not yet ready to run production codes on thousands of CPU cores. Exploratory awards are limited to 100,000 MPP hours and are good for up to 18 months.

A request for an Exploratory project can be made at any time during the year; decisions for Exploratory requests still need to be approved by the DOE Office of Science and need to support the mission of one of their programs. All questions on the application form must be answered.

Exploratory awards are valid for up to 18 months (although they need to be renewed for a new allocation year), after which time the PI must obtain a "DOE Mission Science" award. This is accomplished by approval of the appropriate DOE allocation manager during the allocation year or by renewing the Exploratory project as a DOE Mission Science project for the next allocation year. Production projects are expected to have codes that can effectively use hundreds to thousands of processors.

Submitting the ERCAP Allocation Request Form

Requests to use NERSC resources are submitted via a web form. The process is known as ERCAP (Energy Research Computing Allocations Process). The ERCAP form is accessed through the NERSC Helpdesk System and is available year round.

  1. Once you have received your NERSC login name and password (for brand-new users, this will be your email address plus a password), point your browser to and log in (or for new users).
  2. Go to the "Request Forms" or "How can we help?" menu and select Request a NERSC Allocation.
  3. Click on the "Request a New Project for 20xx" button for the year you want to use NERSC resources. During times when you can submit a new request either for the current year or for the next year (typically between August and November) there will be two buttons, one for the current year and one for the next year.  You should usually select the current year, unless there are reasons to have your award start at the beginning of the following year. 
  4. The ERCAP application form will load in the current page. The questions on the application form are divided into the upper, header section and lower tabbed section. You can save your edits to the form and come back to finish it later. To continue working on a proposal you have previously started, you will find it under the list of "Draft Requests" section of the ERCAP Requests homepage. (Please do not start an additional new request for the same project.)
  5. If you are applying for an Exploratory Account:
    • Select the Allocation Type of Exploratory from the pull-down menu on the Project Class section.
    • Answer the questions to the best of your ability.
    • Exploratory requests may be made at any time.
    • When you have finished writing your request, be sure to click on the checkbox next to "Submit for Review" button..