Advice for Doctoral Students

Applying for external funding can be an important aspect of one's doctoral education. Indeed, securing grants and fellowships can bring much needed resources and distinction to a PhD Dissertation. If you are pursing a PhD, it is important to keep in mind that funders typically link their eligibility requirements to key milestones in graduate education. As such, applicants should carefully consider their intended funders' requirements in relation to their stages in graduate study.

During the first or second year of a PhD program, students may be eligible for early graduate study fellowships. These prestigious, multi-year awards support the student's living expenses, and sometimes provide money for tuition or fees, access to equipment, or a modest research allowance. Early graduate students may also apply for predissertation awards, which support short-term activities like preliminary research travel, language training, and specialized skill development.

Early in the research phase of a thesis or dissertation, students may be eligible for research grants. These include a vast array of funders, and eligibility is often determined by the specific research project. Some students may be eligible for fellowships at this stage of study as well.

During the next-to-last year of dissertation work, PhD students may be eligible to apply for completion fellowships to support their living expenses during the final year of dissertation writing.

Finally, during the final year of doctoral work, PhD candidates may become eligible to apply for postdoctoral fellowships to support the next stage of study. GradFund assists students applying for prestigious, national or international postdoctoral fellowships with annual competitions.

The range of merit-based funding opportunities available to students in practice-based doctoral degrees such as the EdD, JD MD, PsyD, PharmD are different than the opportunities available to students pursing a PhD. Many funders focus their support on the research intensive PhD. However, this should not discourage students who are pursing a practice-based doctoral degree from applying for merit-based funding. Students in professional degree programs are sometimes eligible for scholarships offered by companies or professional societies, or internships provided by private companies.

Further Reading