How to Get a Dissertation Fellowship in Simple Words

What Is a Dissertation Fellowship?

dissertation fellowships

Dissertation fellowships are usually created to support doctoral students that are in the stages of writing their dissertations. Findings may support supplies, field work, support travel, language courses, and living expenses; it all depends on the fellowship program. Also, fellowships usually have no conditions – the only aim they pursue is to help scholars complete dissertation research in a certain field of science.

To receive a place in a dissertation fellowship for a certain scientific project, you must apply for a program, issued in accordance with the terms of the announced competition. Each application is evaluated first by experts, and then by the expert council of the fund, which decides on the allocation of funding or on the refusal of support. In this article, we give general advice on preparing applications for dissertation fellowships. These tips are based on personal experience and can serve as a starting point for obtaining funding for dissertation research. These recommendations can be useful for a beginning researcher who must independently prepare applications for dissertation fellowships and grants.

Choosing a Fellowship

– It is desirable to start preparing and submitting applications for participation in competitions of scientific dissertation fellowships for conducting research during the years of being a student. Indeed, it is quite difficult to win a grant to support the research of an independent scientific group without the experience of managing individual grants. Participate in competitions for funding research for students and graduate students held at your university, city, or state. The acquired experience will gradually allow the preparation of qualitative and successful applications.

– It is better to start with applications for grants with a relatively small amount of funding. As a rule, financial reports are simplified in competitions with a small amount of funds, therefore, less effort will be required to spend on project management. When preparing applications for small grants competitions, the main attention can be paid to the scientific component of the project.

– Carefully read the terms of fellowship programs of various public and private foundations and select the most suitable for your dissertation fellowship competition. Choose reliable funding organizations with a good reputation and expert advice from leading scientists. It is necessary to clearly identify which projects the organizers of the competition are planning to support: fundamental or applied, short or long-term, individual or collective. It is not necessary to take part in all available competitions – this will allow to correctly allocate time between dissertation writing and the search for funding. It is important to remember that it is incorrect to send the same application to several fellowship programs at the same time.

– It is advisable to look at the lists of dissertation researches supported by the fund of the past years, which will give an idea of preferences of the expert council on the subjects of research and qualification of project managers. In recent years, many funding organizations have published statistical information on the proportion of rejected applications, fields of research, and the age of students chosen for the fellowship program. An analysis of this information can be useful in deciding whether the contest is suitable for financing your dissertation project.

– It is necessary to carefully study the expert’s questionnaire and criteria that are considered for fellowship applications. Remember that the expert is usually a very busy person and he won’t have the opportunity to seek or request additional information about your dissertation research. All information that meets the program criteria must be reflected in the application. If in some criterion, for example, the prospects of applied results for objective reasons are not suitable for evaluating your project, try to clarify this in the text of the application.

Required documents:

  1. Motivation letter
  2. Resume and a list of publications
  3. Draft thesis (up to three pages)
  4. Copy of the diploma
  5. One or two examples of the author’s text (for example, master’s thesis)

Final stage of application preparation:

– Check whether the planned studies are relevant and logical.

– Pay a lot of attention to the form of the application letter. Clearly formulate your thoughts, and structure the text of the application, break it into subsections, paragraphs, etc. Check the style of references.

– Ask your colleagues, including specialists in other fields, to read the content of the project and make comments (the so-called “internal review”). The opinion of colleagues will help you to identify weaknesses of the application before it falls into the hands of experts. Therefore it is advisable to plan your time to prepare the first version of the application in advance. Even if the deadline for submitting the application is extremely short, it is worthwhile to postpone the text for a few days, then to look at it with a fresh eye.

– Carefully check the accuracy of all documents before sending the application to the fund (both in electronic and paper version). Often the absence of one signature or certificate may serve as an excuse for rejecting the application for technical reasons. Some funds accept applications only in an electronic version; in this case, it is necessary to clarify whether it is necessary to attach a scanned version of the signed documents.

Are Dissertation Fellowships Taxable?

Taxation will depend on the state and city. Fellowships are taxable for U.S. tax purposes for finances received above fees and tuition. At the same time, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) doesn’t require tax reporting for U.S. citizens and foreign residents by your university. Your university may state advice for tax purposes of your fellowship program.

If you are are in a dissertation fellowship program, you can exclude from income the part of your fellowship used for:

  • Tuition and fees required for attendance or enrollment.
  • Fees, equipment, supplies, and books required for your dissertation research.

To be sure what taxation is applicable in your particular situation, consult your tax advisor.