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Predissertation Research Grants

The Graduate School offers Predissertation Grants of up to $1,000 to UMass doctoral students enrolled in campus-based degree programs. These competitive grants offer early career graduate students the opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of planned dissertation research, generate pilot data, or establish the necessary networks to carry out planned dissertation research, among other activities. Grants are NOT intended to fund dissertation research itself; students seeking funds for dissertation research should apply for a Dissertation Research Grant or Dissertation Fieldwork Grant.

Grant Details

Application Requirements

Eligible Expenses

Documents: Application Form

Grant Details

Amount: Grants of between $250 and $1,000 will be awarded for expenses related to activities in advance of dissertation research (see “Eligible Expenses” below for more details on what can and cannot be funded under this grant).

Eligibility: UMass graduate students enrolled in a campus-based doctoral program who have completed at least one semester of graduate study at UMass Amherst at the time of application but have not yet filed their dissertation prospectus are eligible to apply. Graduate students must be in good standing to apply, as verified by the GPD’s signature on the application form. UMass doctoral students are eligible to receive a Predissertation Research Grant only once. 


  • Tuesday, November 1, 2019 This cycle will fund research expenses beginning on or after December 15, 2019.
  • Tuesday, March 24, 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 advisor’s letter of recommendation) must be received by this time. Awards will be announced by the end of the semester in which the application was submitted. To allow for sufficient planning time, students should submit an application for a Predissertation Grant in the semester before funds are needed.

Review Criteria: Awards will be made based on the merit of the proposed research and the potential for activities funded by Predissertation Grants to provide a strong foundation for the student's future dissertation research. Proposals written in clear language, with realistic and cost-efficient budgets, are more likely to be funded.

Application Requirements

  • Completed Predissertation Grant Application Form (this is being updated for the Fall 2019 application cycle and will be available in late August).
  • Letter of recommendation from the faculty advisor, submitted by the advisor. The letter should address the following:
    • The student’s ability to carry out the activities proposed in the Predissertation Grant application.

    • The student’s progress in degree program and general academic qualifications.

    • The merit of the intended dissertation research and how activities proposed in the Predissertation Grant application will support eventual dissertation research.

Eligible Expenses

Funds could support expenses related to:

  • Preliminary research, including gathering pilot data, demonstrating proof of concept, or testing feasibility of research question(s) or method(s)
  • Identifying dissertation research site(s)
  • Initiating research contacts to support future dissertation research
  • Evaluating scope and content of potential research resources, such as archival records

Eligible expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Research-related travel (e.g. transportation, lodging, food)
  • Costs associated with specialized training, including travel or fees (requests for specialized training or language instruction available at UMass or within the Five College network will not be funded)
  • Fees to use libraries, archives, or databases
  • Purchasing research-related software NOT available through UMass Amherst

Expenses not allowed under this grant include:

  • Salary for the graduate student applicant or research assistants, including funds for transcription
  • Purchase of computers or tablets
  • Food (with the exception of meals during research-related travel)
  • Costs to attend or present at conferences or meetings
  • Routine laboratory or office supplies (these include items considered standard for your department/laboratory, i.e. things routinely in stock)
  • Purchase of books
  • Fees or other costs associated with publication

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 preliminary 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).

Award funds will be transferred to the applicant’s department and normal rules and procedures for business expenses apply. Most funds are disbursed as reimbursements once the funded activity has been completed, although some research expenses must be paid directly by the University; students should plan accordingly. The recipient’s departmental business office will be able to provide detailed information on how funds can be used to pay allowable expenses. 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