Advice for Graduate Study Applicants

Applying for graduate school can seem like an overwhelming process - there are so many choices to weigh, applications to complete, and deadlines to juggle. Demanding as these applications can be, it is very important to consider how to integrate applying for grants and fellowships into the process. By applying for funding, you will learn how to present your motivation for graduate study and your research project in an effective and compelling way. Additionally, you will hone the essential skill of proposal writing which you will use through out your career whether it is in academia, industry, the non-profit sector, medicine, or the arts. If you receive a grant or fellowship, not only will you enjoy financial support for your graduate eduction, but your academic career will be given an important mark of distinction.

GradFund is only able to work with currently matriculated Rutgers graduate students who are applying for merit-based external funding. We cannot work with prospective students or help you to obtain internal funding packages or needs-based support.

Types of Funding

Once you have decided to apply for graduate school, you should also begin to think about possible sources of financial support for your studies. The availability of funding will depend on your program of study, the degree you are pursuing, your research interests, and your fit with other funder criteria (such as gender, ethnicity, or citizenship). Always remember to read the eligibility criteria carefully and to contact a program officer if you are unsure of your eligibility to apply for an award. There are several types of funding for you to consider:

Timing of Applications

Students are often eligible to apply for early graduate fellowships during the last year of their undergraduate degree, and may also be eligible to apply in their first (and sometimes, second) year of graduate study. As the deadlines for most early graduate fellowships are in September-November, it is important that you plan ahead.

The application process for graduate program funding packages varies by program, degree, and university. In some cases, all applicants to a program are automatically considered for funding support; this is not true of all programs, and there may be additional internal fellowship or assistantship opportunities that require separate applications. These applications are often due at the same time as your application to the graduate program. You should consult with the graduate program you are applying to for more information about the application process for internal funding packages.

Finding a Funder

Although GradFund can only meet with matriculated Rutgers graduate students, all visitors to our website are welcome to make use of our award database to explore their funding options.

Evaluating Funding Packages

When evaluating the funding packages offered to you by both external funders and by prospective graduate programs and universities, there are several factors you should consider:

Next Steps

Explore the graduate admissions website for information on support available to Rutgers graduate students. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the graduate program to which you are applying about the availability of funding packages and the process of applying for internal fellowships.

Discuss your plans to attend graduate school and to apply for funding with the professors you've worked during your undergraduate. These professors can help you to navigate the complexities of the application process and provide you with valuable advice about planning for your future. Best of luck!