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Decide What You Want To Fund

The initial steps in applying for a grant are probably the most time-consuming, but also the most critical. Thoughtful preparation will simplify the writing and submission stage.

Consider Where You Are In Your Program

Prepare for the opportunities available at different stages in the doctoral program.

Years 1-2

  • Work on and develop your research topic and ideas.


Years 2-3

  • Coming to an end in courses and have narrowed down topics to one or two potential dissertation ideas.
  • 1-2 years from dissertation proposal.
  • Begin exploring funding options.
  • Consider what you might need funding for (e.g., data collection) and what point in
    the dissertation process you will need that funding.

Years 3-5

  • Most dissertation funding proposal due dates are approximately 6 months to 1 year prior to dispersion of funds. Therefore, depending on what you want funded you may need to send out a proposal up to a year or more before you even need the funding.
  • Work on and submit proposals approximate 6 months prior to the due date. Prioritize good quality. Get advisor on board.
  • For international research projects, begin working on funding proposals 6 months to a year prior to the due date (e.g, affiliation letters, courses, language evaluations). Note: This time period varies greatly depending on the grant and its requirements.

Special Considerations

  • International Research: Preparing proposals for international research funding is likely to take more time due to the requirements, begin early.
  • Working students: Students who work fulltime should be aware that many of the larger are only for fulltime students. Be sure to explore whether or not this is a requirement when searching for grants.
  • International Students: Some grants are only available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents (e.g., government grants—NSF, Fulbright, NIH). Be sure to explore whether or not this is a requirement when searching for grants.

Decide What You're Hoping To Fund

As you seek support, it may be useful to familiarize yourself with the funding categories used by funding agencies:

  • Predissertation. For students in the start of their doctoral program through the dissertation proposal defense. These opportunities mainly fund research and experiences that aid research, such as travel, language study, and supplies. Most predissertation funding opportunities come from the univeristy of college.
  • Dissertation. This is the most widely available type of graduate funding. These grants and fellowships cover the period of time after the dissertation proposal defense, when you enter the ABD ("all but dissertation" stage, to the completion of dissertation research. Living expenses while completing researh may also be included in some funding applications.
  • Write-up. This covers the actual writing process of the dissertation, once the doctoral students has completing or is nearing completion of their data collection. Most of these opportunities fit under the fellowship category, and are designed to enable the student to concentrate mostly or only on writing and completing the dissertation. Funds may be used for tuition and fees, stipend for living expenses, and any follow-up research needed for completion.