Thursday, May 1, 2014

Finding Graduate Funding, Currently Enrolled PhD Students Edition

This post is intended primarily for students who are currently enrolled in PhD programs in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. I'll address finding grad school funding for those applying in a separate post.

So. Graduate student friends. You are in graduate school and hopefully your financial situation is great! You are working with a well-funded mentor in a grad department with lots of money to toss your way. Should you still apply for funding? YES. And for those among you staring down abject poverty, you already know you need to apply for funding. Still, a quick "why apply" list to convince our first group may help motivate you latter folks (likely the majority).

Why apply

1) Applying for funding at regular intervals forces you to articulate your research project in a clear and concise way. This helps keep you on track even if you don't earn the funding.

2) Applying successfully even for small awards establishes a record of acquiring funding which will be important down the line when you're trying to make the case for why you're hireable.

3) It will make your advisor happy.

And now, how. First, start early! Think a year ahead of where you are right now. If a year from now you'll be finishing coursework, think about funding for preliminary research or for writing the proposal. If a year from now you will have completed your comps, think about funding for research. And if a year from now you will start the final year of writing (should the stars align), seek out dissertation completion funding.

There are very few graduate awards that fund the first two or three years. The NSF GRFP can generally be applied for in the first or second year of graduate study, and you may be surprised at the fields it will fund. The Soros can be applied for as an enrolled graduate student and will fund coursework and you can apply for the Ford Foundation's Predoctoral award as long as you have two years of coursework remaining. These latter two are incredibly competitive. The GRFP is by far the biggest among these, with 2,000 awards made for 2014/15. For students in the sciences, the NDESG and SMART may be options. NDESG also applies to the behavioral sciences. The resources below may also help identify other, more specific sources of funding for those early years.

Once you are looking at funding research, fieldwork, travel, dissertation completion, etc., your search will become more field specific.

Sources to help you identify funding

1) Your supervisor, grad chair and fellow graduate students: Now is not the time to be shy. Be sure to ask your supervisor and grad chair what the biggest sources of funding are in your field and when a student ought to apply. Ask other students - particularly students in cohorts before yours - what they applied for. And ask students at conferences you attend what they've applied for and what their supervisors encourage students in their programs to apply for. Take all advice with a grain of salt; fact-check for yourself.

2) Pivot: an important database for academic funding from undergrad to senior faculty that is accessible through academic institutions. If you log on to a Temple computer and click this link, you will be taken directly into the database. From home, you must create a login.

3) Era@TU: Temple's access to the InfoEd suite, to be used for identifying funding and submitting proposals. I'll be honest. I think this resource does all manner of things I am unfamiliar with - post-award administration, possibly creating unicorns. I'm not sure. What I do know is that if you click this link, you can log in and then click the words "Find Funding" in the upper lefthand corner to search for funding.

4) H-Net announcements: Finally! One just for you humanities and humanistic social sciences folks! On H-Net's announcements page, you will find calls for papers, job and post-doc listings and funding announcements. The search function seems a bit funky to me - best just to scroll.

5) Your professional association: Professional associations will sometimes provide awards for fieldwork or travel; more often they'll have a page of awards applicable to graduate students in a field. Remember to look for both your major disciplinary association and smaller sub-disciplinary or regional associations. Both may have resources. And if you're not sure what your professional association is, use the power of Google or go back to your supervisor and tell them that when you asked about major sources of funding, you forgot to ask what your professional association is.

6) Profellow: Who is, according to their page, building the "world's best fellowships database." The Kingdom Tower of fellowships databases, if you will. You be the judge.

7) The CV's of those you admire: I give you permission to snoop the publically accessible (no hacking, please) CV's of new faculty at your institution and at other institutions, post-docs, and other grad students you perceive to have successfully worked the system to learn about awards in your field. I emphasize early career academics because the funding landscape frequently changes. Again, the power of Google.

8) These other databases: Grants.govCornell University Graduate School, UCLA database, University of Chicago database

And finally, a few other major awards for those later years:

- NSF Dissertation Completion grants:
- Fulbright: (Temple contact = Denise Connerty, director of Education Abroad)
- Boren fellowship:
- American Association of University Women awards:
- American Council of Learned Societies:
- NIH Graduate Partnerships Program:
- American Educational Research Association: click here
- Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships Foundation fellowships:
- Social Science Research Council Fellowships:
- National Endowment for the Humanities grants:
- NIH Fogarty funding opportunities:

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