The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Graduate Student Grant Writing Program


The Center for Research on Families is pleased to host the

Graduate Student Grant Writing Program directed by Dr. Rebecca Spencer. 


The Center for Research on Families (CRF) Graduate Student Grant Writing Program provides intensive support to develop NSF, NIH, Ford Foundation, and other pre-doctoral fellowship applications that fall along a similar timeline i.e, with fall and late fall submissions. Applying for fellowships can be an intimidating, stressful and isolating process. Students can benefit greatly from working in a structured group with faculty, peers, and reviewers who will help students develop and submit a strong and compelling proposal. 

CRF supports selected first-and second-year doctoral students in the development of successful graduate fellowship applications.  The 9-month program is designed specifically for NSF, NIH, Ford Foundation, or similar pre-doctoral fellowship proposals. Student Scholars receive mentoring and support throughout the grant development process, including developing, refining, and communicating their ideas, approach, and methodology. Scholars meet bi-weekly and receive training on topics related to the grant writing process, ongoing feedback from faculty, mentors, and peers as well as feedback from a pre-review panel. 

Benefits of applying for Fellowships: Graduate student fellowships provide students the opportunity to pursue their graduate research goals without the burden of teaching assistantships. Students also learn to defend their research design and communicate their research to a broader audience, while developing critical grant writing skills.  

Requirements of the Program:

Selected students must attend the bi-weekly seminar meetings that meet beginning at the end of April, continue through summer and conclude in the fall. Participants should submit their proposals in accordance with the deadlines below. 

2022 Timeline

Date Item
February 23 & March 1, 2022

Attend 1 of the workshops: 

How to Develop your Ideas into Specific Aims*

March 24, 2022 Application Deadline
Mid April Notification of Scholars Selected for Program
May 5th Attend Student Awards Forum
Mid- to late April Bi-Weekly Scholar Meetings Begin and Continue through Summer and Fall
October NSF GFRP deadline
December NIH F31 and Ford Foundation deadlines

*To prepare a strong application we recommend you attend one of the two Graduate Student Specific Aims Development Workshops being offered where you will receive guidance and feedback on your Specific Aims.


To be eligible, students must be first- or second-year doctoral students. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program and/or NIHF31  or Ford Foundation. Specifically, applicants:
  • must be U.S. Citizens or permanent residence
  • not have previously applied for the NSF GFRP as a graduate student (for NSF applicants)

CRF is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage applications from across all disciplines and students from underrepresented groups. Applicants must have research interests relevant to families.  Read about how we define “family research”.