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Dissertation Research Grants

The Graduate School provides $80,000 each year to fund competitive Graduate School Dissertation Research Grants. This program recognizes the research and accomplishments of our outstanding graduate students and provides funds to assist recipients in completion of their dissertation.

Grant Details
Application Requirements
Eligible Expenses

Grant Details

Amount: Grants are available for up to $1,000 for expenses incurred in connection with the student’s doctoral dissertation research (see “Eligible Expenses” below for more details on what can and cannot be funded under this grant). Students should submit an application in the semester before funds are needed.

Eligibility: UMass Amherst doctoral students must be enrolled in a campus-based degree program and have achieved candidacy at the time of application to be eligible to apply. Applicants must also be in good academic standing and currently enrolled at UMass Amherst. UMass doctoral students are eligible to receive this grant only once. Applicants who were not awarded a grant in a previous application cycle are eligible to reapply without prejudice.


  • Tuesday, October 8, 2019 This cycle will fund research expenses beginning on or after December 15, 2019.
  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020 This cycle will fund research expenses beginning on or after May 15, 2020.

The application deadline is 11:59 PM on the posted due date—all required materials (including the letter of recommendation) must be received by this time.


Application Requirements

A completed Dissertation Research Grant consists of four components:

  1. A completed Application Form (this form is being updated for the Fall 2019 application cycle and will be available in late August). The Application includes a one-page, single-spaced Project Description (in 11 or 12 pt font with 1 inch margins). All figures and references should be included within the page limit. Write your Project Description for a general audience using non-technical language whenever possible, as the content should be understandable by faculty in other fields. Your Project Description should address each of the following:
    • What do you seek to accomplish with your dissertation research? (i.e., what are your research questions/aims/objectives?)
    • How will you accomplish this? (i.e., what research methods will you use?)
    • What contribution(s) will this research make?
    • How would a Dissertation Research Grant contribute to your ability to successfully complete your dissertation? 
  2. A detailed budget.
  3. A confidential one-page letter of recommendation from your faculty advisor addressing the applicant’s merit and performance in the program, the significance of the project, and why the requested funds are critical to the applicant’s successful completion of the dissertation.
  4. An email from your Graduate Program Director verifying that you are in good standing in your program and have achieved candidacy status. Prior to requesting this email from your GPD check the date you achieved candidacy on your unofficial transcript (available via SPIRE) and provide this date to your GPD.

Summary of Responsibilities

Student submits:

  • Application Form, including Project Description and Budget. Use the following format for the file names, using the applicant’s name: Lastname_Firstname_Application_Dissertation_Grant OR Lastname_Firstname_Budget_Dissertation_Grant

Faculty Advisor submits:

  • Confidential Letter of Recommendation. Use the following format for the file name, using the applicant’s name: Lastname_Firstname_Recommendation_Dissertation_Grant 

Graduate Program Director submits:

Eligible Expenses

Eligible expenses under this grant include, but are not limited to, research-related expenses associated with:

  • travel to special library or museum collections
  • access to libraries, databases, or archives
  • fees for services (e.g., transcription, analyzing samples, payments to subjects, hiring undergraduate research assistants. NOTE: These expenses must be coordinated with your department's bookkeeper or business manager ahead of time. Grant funds may not be used to retroactively pay for these services.)
  • duplication or distribution of research materials (e.g., photocopies of surveys, postage)
  • field work, including travel to and from the field site and living expenses while in the field
  • purchase of software or specialized equipment not otherwise available via UMass (which will remain the property of the University; laptops, tablets, and similar technology are not eligible)

Expenses not allowed on the grant include:

  • paying oneself a stipend or salary
  • costs associated with publishing your research
  • costs to attend or present at conferences or meetings
  • typing, duplication, or editing of the dissertation
  • normal living expenses except when on research-related travel
  • routine laboratory or office supplies
  • purchase of software or specialized equipment that is already available on campus
  • purchase of computers, tablets, or similar technology
  • purchase of books

Additional guidelines on eligible expenses:

  • Proposals to fund specialized training will be eligible for consideration only if such training is clearly necessary for the applicant’s dissertation research and is not otherwise available. Training that contributes to the applicant’s overall professional development but does not directly support the dissertation research is not eligible for funding. Eligible training must not be available on campus or within the Five College Consortium.
  • Students who require advanced language training should first consult UMass Amherst course offerings and the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages. (The desire to obtain language training during the summer is not in itself sufficient rationale for a grant.)
  • Students seeking training in statistics or methodology should first consult UMass Amherst course offerings and services of the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR).

A subcommittee of the Graduate Council will review submissions. Awards will be announced by the end of the semester in which the application was submitted. In most cases, award funds will be disbursed as reimbursements once the research activity (such as travel) is complete, although some expenses must be paid directly by the University. Awarded funds are managed by the student’s department; awardees must communicate with their department’s business manager prior to spending any grant funds. Grant recipients will be required to submit a brief report at the end of the grant period to account for how grant funds were spent.

Questions should be addressed to Heidi Bauer-Clapp at