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Dissertation Fieldwork Grants

The Graduate School offers competitive Dissertation Fieldwork Grants of up to $5,000 to provide support for expenses related to dissertation fieldwork. Fieldwork is conceived of broadly under this program but in general includes data collection that takes place for an extended period of time (e.g. weeks or months, not days) outside the Western Massachusetts geographical area.

Grant Details

Application Requirements

Eligible Expenses

Grant Details

Amount: Grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 will be awarded for expenses directly related to dissertation fieldwork; as fieldwork grants, it is expected that the majority of the student’s budget will be costs associated with travel and/or maintenance while conducting research (see “Eligible Expenses” below for more details on what can and cannot be funded under this grant).

Eligibility: UMass graduate students in good standing and currently enrolled in a campus-based doctoral program are eligible to apply.  UMass doctoral students may receive only one Dissertation Fieldwork Grant during their enrollment at UMass. Successful applicants must have their dissertation prospectus approved and secure IRB approval, if necessary, before funds will be disbursed. A student MAY be eligible to apply if the student's advisor has approved the dissertation research plan but the prospectus has not been formally approved--students in this situation should contact Heidi Bauer-Clapp (at well in advance of the application deadline to ask about eligibility.


  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019 This cycle will fund research expenses beginning on or after December 15, 2019.
  • Tuesday, March 10, 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 most effectively plan fieldwork activities, we recommend students submit a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant application at least six months before funds are needed.

Review Criteria: Awards will be made based on the merit of the proposed research; proposals written in clear language, with realistic and cost-efficient budgets, are more likely to be funded.

Application Components

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant Application Form (this form is being updated for the Fall 2019 application cycle and will be available in late August). Students should plan to submit: 

  • Detailed budget and budget justification
  • A three page proposal (single-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt. font with 1 inch margins) addressing each of the following:
    • Describe your dissertation research project for an educated reader who is not familiar with your topic or discipline. What are the central research questions, hypotheses and/or problems you intend to investigate?
    • How does your research build on existing scholarship?
    • Where and when will you conduct fieldwork? What research methods do you intend to use to collect data during fieldwork?
    • What contributions will this research make?
    • How would a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant contribute to your ability to successfully complete your dissertation?
    • FIgures and References are allowed but must be included within the three page limit
  • Letter of Recommendation from the faculty advisor, submitted by the advisor. The letter should address the following:
    • Whether the student is in good academic standing
    • The student’s ability to carry out the activities proposed in the Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
    • The merit of the intended dissertation

Eligible Expenses

Eligible expenses include (but are not limited to):

  • Research-related travel to field site(s) or local travel at the field site(s)
  • Living expenses while in the field (e.g. lodging, food)
  • Fees to use libraries, archives, or databases while in the field
  • Duplication or distribution of research materials (e.g. photocopies of surveys)

Up to 25% of the proposed budget may be used for:

  • Purchase of research supplies or equipment, which will remain the property of the University

Ineligible expenses include:

  • Salary for the graduate student applicant or research assistants
  • Expenses related to student training, including language or methodology training
  • Standard office or laboratory supplies (these include items considered standard for your department/laboratory, i.e. things routinely in stock)
  • Purchase of computers or tablets (unless the student can demonstrate that such equipment is integral to data collection)
  • Food (with the exception of meals while in the field)
  • Costs to attend or present at conferences or meetings
  • Purchasing data sets
  • Purchase of books
  • Fees or other costs associated with publication
  • Costs incurred at home while the researcher is in the field (e.g. rent)

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 research activity is completed, although some services 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