Doctoral Dissertation Grants Education

For anyone considering the road of a doctoral program, one thing should always remain on the radar: scholarships will be needed to help fund the cost.

Doctoral programs sit at the end of a long academic career as the next step for those who want to finalize their graduate academics into a bona fide research status.

They are also the key ingredient necessary for those who want to move into higher education teaching and potentially a professor position in academia.

That said, doctoral programs are not cheap. Many require thousands of dollars to participate in, while at the same time they also require significant energy, time and effort.

This leaves little time for someone to also work and earn a paycheck. As a result, scholarships and related grants for doctoral students, as well as their research, provide critical lifelines to continue living while studying.

The FAFSA and Program Availability

There is no shortage of doctoral programs in the U.S. Every major college or university has a doctoral program within some or all of its main study programs, offering candidates a PhD upon successful completion. In this regard, for those candidates who are accepted into a school’s doctoral program, the college or university is the first place to start for scholarships and grants.

High-level education institutions actively draw philanthropic as well as government funding for study and research. These funds then get farmed out in the form of specific school scholarships to the students attending a particular school. Thus, anybody looking for additional financial support has to at least consider applying for his own school’s financial program before trying anything else.

The starting process, of course, is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, before starting a particular school term. This federal form provides a standardized input of a student’s information into both the federal government and school’s databases to determine eligibility. As a result, it is a basic entry and practical financial requirement for any doctoral student.

Universities and schools also provide their own private grants and scholarships as well. For example, the Stevens Institute of Technology provides the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Doctoral Fellowship, intended to support high-performing students pursuing research that show promise in innovation and science-based disruptive technology advancement.

The George Mason University School of Public Policy funnels the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship for post-doctorate candidates seeking positions in overseas governmental roles, as well as various dissertation and research grants for ongoing doctorate work. As expected, candidates need to already be doctorate students working towards degrees in George Mason University.

Specialty Funding

Within each doctoral program, specialties exist. As a result, many have the potential to generate a large amount of financial support as various private and public interests want to see advancement of research in a given specialty. Many universities also couple with government programs to farm out federal and state funds for research goals as well. The grants and programs also see much of their administration within a particular school’s program.

The program chair and professors end up being the decision-makers as to which doctoral candidates will receive specific program financial aid in the form of program scholarships. Again, the FAFSA application is necessary before any review can occur. Additionally, the doctoral student needs to be both accepted, enrolled, and actively working in a given school program for eligibility.

Agency-Specific Grants

Governmental programs provide direct support to doctoral candidates in specific areas of study. These can range from social studies to health. For example, the federal government has a variety of agency-specific grants available both for study support and research ventures.

The Housing and Urban Development Agency supports doctoral studies in housing and urban design improvement. Students seeking support for related research work can find financial support from the federal agency as long as the benefits of the research are shared with the government in the form of reporting. HUD support can cover research, school costs, and living support if the student meets all the necessary requirements.

Fulbright Grants

The Fulbright Program in general is a grant-providing organization that promotes international education sharing and is paid for by the U.S. government. While the organization does not provide general doctoral candidate support per se, it does finance a number of programs that could be used to help a doctoral student’s academic career. Further, once the student achieves his degree, the program can also expand post-doctoral activities with similar grant support.

The Fulbright Program has a number of categories that address specific student groups as well. For example, there is the grant program for Israeli doctoral students that provides 16 different grants to eligible candidates. These funds are distributed on an annual basis to students working at a US-accredited university or research institute. The funding pays up to $37,500 to provide partial living help for students in their first year of research within the US at an eligible institution.

There is no specific field for grant eligibility; in fact, recipients can apply from health, engineering and even agricultural fields. That said, those in health programs with direct patient contact won’t be able to apply. Recipients also get to enjoy health insurance coverage paid for by the grant through the duration of covered study in the US.

Demographic Focus

Many grants are set up and designed to promote the work of underrepresented groups in society. As such, these programs can be taken advantage of by doctoral students that fall into specific groups. While most students want to be recognized on the basis of their skill and performance, those who are eligible are being given an opportunity to move ahead with added preference.

While it is fundamentally favoritism based on a demographic, such students can use the funds to help balance out the spectrum of doctoral degrees held by their demographic if successful. Some of the best well-known doctoral grant programs include the following:

Additionally, private foundations will also target specific demographic candidates as well, as discussed below.

Private Foundation Assistance

Many private foundations are also a good source of grant and scholarship support via direct applications. These entities represent private companies or wealth individuals interested in seeing further advancement in particular research.

The Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship is funded by the NASW Foundation and provides partial financial support to approved applicants working in welfare issues and policy development. A successful applicant receives $2,000 per annual award. The student’s dissertation has to cover a topic directly associated with welfare policy.

The KPMG Foundation pushes the PhD Project which targets doctoral candidates who are also African-American, Hispanic, or Native American and seeking business degrees. Ideally, such candidates will be working towards a career in business academia and related professor positions.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program provides 60 grants for pre-doctoral work. Candidates must either be working in a field of philosophy or a field of science and related doctor degree. Those who are successful candidates will be awarded a $20,000 grant for financial living support during the research period. Additionally, candidates receive a $2,000 reduction of tuition for a year as well.


For those studying in the medical field or related sciences, a number of grants and scholarships are available. Students via online research can find many of them by simply inputting their field of study and the word “scholarship” in a search engine. A couple of examples are provided below, some with some significant amounts of support available for successful candidates who apply.

The Oncology Nursing Society Foundation seeks to broaden the work of nursing doctorates and provides two grants for eligible applicants. Eligible applicants are those seeking a doctoral degree in nursing oncology either as a clinical doctoral degree or a research degree. Successful candidates can receive a grant of $3,000 or $3,500 per year.

The American Cancer Society provides a doctoral degree scholarship in cancer nursing with successful candidates receiving two years of support financing $15,000 per year in nursing science. The awarded candidate will be working in cancer research and seeking support for a dissertation in cancer nursing academic work.

The Foundation for Physical Therapy seeks to advance the science of physical therapy with new research and techniques as a result of research. To this end, the Foundation supports doctoral candidates with the Florence P. Kendall Doctoral Scholarship which awards annual grants of $5,000. The funds can be used for any direct cost associated with a related doctorate program, including tuition and school fees.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics funds the CDR Doctoral Scholarship, seeking candidates who are registered dieticians also working towards a doctor’s degree in a related study field. Those who are successfully awarded will receive a scholarship of $10,000. Those who are eligible can be seeking doctorates in research, education, public health, or clinical nutrition.


Doctoral students and applicants have plenty of opportunities to find financial support both from private and public sources, and these sources are all in addition to the normal academic financial help from government-funded student loans and generic federal grants. However, with so many students seeking support, competition can be fierce in some cases. Many of these programs are competitive, and many schools or foundations administering the grants are looking for star students showing great promise and unique research ideas that promise significant advancement in an area. So doctoral candidates need to plan both for their financial need as well as continuously market their proposals to secure the best possibilities from scholarship supporters.

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Dissertation research fellowships provide financial support to doctoral students who are in the stages of conducting research and writing their dissertation. Funding can be used to support travel, field work, supplies, language training, and even living expenses. Often these fellowships have “no strings attached” – their intention is simply to support scholars completing original research in a particular field of study. Check out and bookmark these 30 unique dissertation research fellowships for domestic and international doctoral students enrolled in U.S. universities.

World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship

The World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship program is an annual grant competition to support Ph.D. dissertation research on American foreign policy, international relations, international security, strategic studies, area studies, and diplomatic and military history. The fellowship’s objective is to support the research and writing of policy-relevant dissertations through funding of fieldwork, archival research, and language training. In evaluating applications, the Foundation will accord preference to those projects that could directly inform U.S. policy debates and thinking. The Foundation will award up to twenty grants of $7,500 each.

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowships

This fellowship provides one year of support to 30 individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree. The awards will be made to individuals who, in the judgement of the review panels, have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, and show promise. The fellowship pays a stipend of $21,000. Applicants must be citizens, nationals, or permanent residents (holders of a Permanent Resident Card) of the United States.

AAUW American Dissertation Fellowships

Dissertation Fellowships provides $20,0000 to offset a woman scholar’s living expenses while she completes her dissertation. The fellowship must be used for the final year of writing the dissertation. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Open to applicants in all fields of study.

Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship

The Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship (KDF) is an annual competitive program that awards up to 20 Dissertation Fellowship grants of $20,000 each to Ph.D., D.B.A., or other doctoral students at accredited U.S. universities to support dissertations in the area of entrepreneurship. The Kauffman Foundation is particularly interested in regional dynamics and local ecosystems, demographic dimensions of entrepreneurship, economic growth, entrepreneurship policy, declining business dynamism, future of work, economic inequality and mobility, and programmatic research.

Jennings Randolph (JR) Peace Scholarship Dissertation Program

Each year, the United States Institute of Peace awards approximately 10 Peace Scholar Fellowships to students enrolled in U.S. universities who are researching and writing doctoral dissertations on topics related to international conflict management and peace building. Proposals from all disciplines are welcome. Fellowships last for 10 months, starting in September. Peace Scholar Awards are currently set at $20,000 for 10 months and are paid directly to the individual.

American Educational Research Association (AERA) Dissertation Grant

The program seeks to stimulate research on U.S. education issues using data from the large-scale, national and international data sets supported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), NSF, and other federal agencies. Grants of up to $20,000 are available for advanced doctoral students in education, sociology, economics, psychology, demography, statistics, and psychometrics. Applicants may be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents enrolled in a doctoral program. Non-U.S. citizens enrolled in a doctoral program at a U.S. institution are also eligible to apply.

Mellon-CES Dissertation Completion Fellowships in European Studies

The Council for European Studies (CES) invites eligible graduate students to apply for the 2013 Mellon-CES Completion Fellowships in European Studies. Each fellowship includes a $25,000 stipend, paid in six (6) bi-monthly installments over the course of the fellowship year, as well as assistance in securing reimbursements or waivers for up to $3500 in eligible health insurance and candidacy fees. To be eligible to receive the fellowship, applicants must also be enrolled in an institution that is a member of the CES Academic Consortium.

International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF)

The Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) offers 9-12 months of support to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who are enrolled in PhD programs in the United States and conducting dissertation research on non-US topics. Eighty fellowships are awarded annually. Fellowship amounts vary depending on the research plan, with a per-fellowship average of $20,000. The fellowship includes participation in an SSRC-funded interdisciplinary workshop upon the completion of IDRF-funded research.

Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships support the final year of dissertation writing on ethical and religious values in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. Awards are based on a rigorous national competition, with at least 22 winners who receive a stipend of $25,000. These fellowships are supported by the Newcombe Foundation and are administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowships in Women’s Studies

The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowships in Women’s Studies support the final year of dissertation writing for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences whose work addresses topics of women and gender in interdisciplinary and original ways. In each round, ten Fellows will receive $5,000 to be used for expenses connected with completing their dissertations, such as research-related travel, data work/collection, and supplies.

Geography and Spatial Sciences Program Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Awards (GSS-DDRI)

The Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS) Program sponsors research on the geographic distributions and interactions of human, physical, and biotic systems on Earth. Investigators are encouraged to propose plans for research about the nature, causes, and consequences of human activity and natural environmental processes across a range of scales. GSS provides support to improve the conduct of doctoral dissertation projects undertaken by doctoral students enrolled in U.S. universities. GSS gives 30-40 awards each year. Awards may not exceed $16,000. An advisor or another faculty member must serve as the principal investigator (PI) of the proposal.

Lowell Harriss Dissertation Fellowship Program

The annual C. Lowell Harriss Dissertation Fellowship Program invites applications from doctoral students, mainly at U.S. universities, who are writing theses in fields that address the Institute’s primary interest areas in valuation and taxation, planning, and related topics. Fellowships of $10,000 each support development of a thesis proposal and/or completion of thesis research.

National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program

The Dissertation Fellowship Program seeks to encourage a new generation of scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professional fields to undertake research relevant to the improvement of education. These $27,500 fellowships support individuals whose dissertations show potential for bringing fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world. Applicants need not be citizens of the United States; however, they must be candidates for the doctoral degree at a graduate school within the United States.

Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art

These fellowships are designated for graduate students in any stage of Ph.D. dissertation research or writing in a department of art history in the United States. Fellowships are for one year and provide a $25,000 stipend and $2,000 travel allowance. The fellowships may be carried out in residence at the Fellow’s home institution, abroad, or at another appropriate site for the research. The fellowships, however, may not be used to defray tuition costs or be held concurrently with any other major fellowship or grant.

Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources

These fellowships are for dissertation research in the humanities or related social sciences in original sources. Applicants may be of any nationality but must be enrolled in a U.S. doctoral program and be studying in the U.S. Proposed research may be conducted at a single or multiple sites abroad, in the U.S., or both. Fellowships are for 9-12 months and provide an annual stipend of up to $25,000.

DAAD Research Grant

Research grants are awarded primarily to highly qualified PhD candidates who would like to conduct research in Germany. This grant is open to applicants in all fields. However, there are restrictions for those in healthcare related fields, including dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine; please contact the DAAD New York office if your academic pursuits are in these fields. Applications accepted in November for 10-month and short-term grants, and in May for short-term grants.

Chateaubriand Fellowship – Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)

The Chateaubriand Fellowship – Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) provides funding for PhD candidates currently enrolled in a U.S. university to conduct research in France at a French university, a school of engineering, a national laboratory or a private enterprise, with a link to a Doctoral School. The fellowship is for 4-10 months, provides travel, health insurance and a monthly stipend of 1,400 Euros. Non-U.S. nationals are eligible to apply for a Chateaubriand Fellowship as long as they are currently enrolled in an American university.

Chateaubriand Fellowship – Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)

The Chateaubriand Fellowship – Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS) provides PhD candidates currently enrolled at a U.S. university the opportunity to conduct research in France in any discipline of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The fellowship lasts for 4-8 months and provides travel, health insurance and a monthly stipend of 1,500 Euros. Candidates do not have to be U.S. citizens, but they must be enrolled in an American university.

Title VIII Research Scholar Program

The program offers support for graduate students, faculty, Ph.D. candidates, post-doctorate, and independent scholars to conduct policy-relevant research for 3-9 months in Central Asia, Russia, the South Caucasus, Ukraine, Southeast Europe and Moldova. The total value of Title VIII Research Scholar fellowships ranges from $5K to $25K each. Typical awards include: international roundtrip airfare from the scholar’s home city to his/her host city overseas, academic affiliation at a leading local university, visa(s), opportunity for housing with a local host family and a living stipend. Scholars in the social sciences and humanities are eligible.

IAF Grassroots Development PhD Fellowship Program

The IAF Grassroots Development Fellowship provides support for Ph.D. candidates currently enrolled in a U.S. university to conduct dissertation research in Latin America and the Caribbean on topics in the social sciences, physical sciences, technical fields or other disciplines related to grassroots development issues. U.S. citizens and citizens of independent Latin American and Caribbean countries (except Cuba) are eligible to apply. Fellowships last between 4 and 12 months and include round-trip travel, a research allowance, health insurance and a stipend of $1,500 per month for up to 12 months.

Doris Duke Fellowships for the Promotion of Child Well-Being

The fellowships, which include an annual stipend of up to $30,000, are designed to identify and develop a new generation of leaders interested in and capable of creating practice and policy initiatives that will enhance child development and improve the nation’s ability to prevent all forms of child maltreatment. Fellows can be doctoral students based at any academic institution in the United States and will be selected from a range of academic disciplines. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Kim Foundation Fellowships

The D. Kim Foundation provides fellowships and grants to support graduate students and young scholars who are working in the history of science and technology in East Asia from the beginning of the 20th century, regardless of their nationality, origins, or gender. Comparative studies of East Asia and the West as well as studies in related fields (mathematics, medicine and public health) are also welcome. Fellowships up to $25,000 each will be awarded to PhD candidates who are writing their dissertations. Travel grants ($2,500) are also available.

Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowship Program

Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowship Program aims to expand the scholarship of Cuban, American, Latin, hemispheric, and international studies by providing funding to doctoral students interested in using the resources available at the University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) for dissertation research. Two fellowship types are offered, Graduate Pre-Prospectus Summer Fellowships, which provide one month residence and $1,500, and Graduate Research Fellowships, which provide $3,000/month for 1-3 months in residence.

History of Science Fellowships

The Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, an independent research library in Philadelphia, accepts applications for short- and long-term fellowships in the history of science, technology, medicine, and industry. The center provides dissertation fellowships of $26,000 for work that is in some way tied to the history of materials and materiality, chemistry, and related sciences. Applications come from a wide range of disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.

American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowships

The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) offers fellowships of up to $23,000 to individuals to pursue research, study or creative arts projects in one or more Scandinavian country for up to one year. Awards are made in all fieds. Applicants must have a well-defined research, study or creative arts project that makes a stay in Scandinavia essential. Priority is given to candidates at the graduate level for dissertation-related study or research.

CJH Graduate Research Fellows

The Center for Jewish History in New York City offers 10-month fellowships to PhD candidates supporting original research using the collections at the Center. Preference is given to those candidates who draw on the library and archival resources of more than one partner. It is required that each fellow spend a minimum of 3 days per week in residence in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room using the archival and library resources. Full fellowships carry a stipend of up to $17,500 for one academic year. It is expected that applicants will have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree except for the dissertation.

Josephine De Karman Fellowships

DeKarman fellowships are open to students in any discipline, including international students, who are currently enrolled in a university or college located within the United States. A minimum of ten (10) fellowships, $22,000 for doctoral students and $14,000 for undergraduate students, will be awarded for the regular academic year. Only doctoral students and undergraduate students about to enter their final year of study/dissertation are eligible. The fellowship is for one academic year and may not be renewed or postponed. Special consideration will be given to applicants in the Humanities.

Yale LGBT Studies Research Fellowship

The one-month fellowship is offered annually, and is designed to provide access to Yale resources in LGBT Studies for scholars who live outside the greater New Haven area.  This fellowship supports scholars from any field pursuing research in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer studies at Yale University, utilizing the vast faculty resources, manuscript archives, and library collections available at Yale. Graduate students conducting dissertation research, independent scholars, and all faculty are invited to apply. The fellowship provides an award of $4,000, which is intended to pay for travel to and from New Haven and act as a living allowance. The fellowship must take place between September and April.

Health Policy Research Scholars

Health Policy Research Scholars is a national change leadership development opportunity for full-time doctoral students from underrepresented populations or historically disadvantaged backgrounds, entering the first or second year of their doctoral program, from any academic discipline who are training to be researchers and are interested in health policy research. The program is led by Johns Hopkins University, with participants completing their doctoral programs at their home institutions across the U.S. Participants will attend at least one annual gathering (travel funded by the program), participate in leadership development trainings, coursework and mentoring, and receive an annual stipend of up to $30,000 for up to four years. Participants are also eligible for a competitive dissertation grant of up to $10,000.

Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship

The Stephen F. Cohen–Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship (CTDRF) Program for Russian Historical Studies supports the next generation of US scholars to conduct their doctoral dissertation research in Russia. The program will provide up to six annual fellowships, with a maximum stipend of $22,000, for doctoral students at US universities, who are citizens or permanent residents of the US, to conduct dissertation research in Russia. The Program is open to students in any discipline whose dissertation topics are within 19th – early 21st century Russian historical studies.

© Victoria Johnson 2016, all rights reserved.

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