The 2014 DPDF Faculty Field Competition is now closed. Decisions will be made by late November 2013.

Click here for a sample application.

The Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (DPDF) Faculty Field Competition is open to tenured humanities and social sciences faculty interested in creating or reinvigorating interdisciplinary fields of study through the training of the next generation of researchers. Selected research directors guide the development of effective doctoral dissertation proposals within innovative fields by helping fellows sharpen the focus of their research and identify appropriate methods of investigation and analysis.

Annually, the DPDF program selects up to five research fields, each proposed by two senior faculty with different institutional affiliations and, as relevant, different disciplinary specializations. Faculty selected as field research directors design and lead two workshops for student fellows, in coordination with DPDF staff, and serve as mentors to the fellows during the course of their summer pre-dissertation research.

Research Fields

Proposed research fields should be domains of inquiry centered on a core set of issues and questions that can be valuably addressed by diverse scholarship. Fields should address topics of broad public concern that can be approached from multiple intellectual, societal, and geographic orientations. Fields should also address topics that encompass broad geographic areas rather than focus on one specific country. Research fields proposed by pairs of faculty who bring distinct perspectives from any different disciplines are welcome, but fields stemming jointly from the humanities and social sciences are particularly encouraged. Up to five research fields are selected each year. View past research field descriptions here.

Structure of the DPDF Program

DPDF annual cycles are organized around workshops in the spring and fall that bracket student fellows’ summer pre-dissertation research. Upon selection through the DPDF Faculty Field Competition in late fall, faculty research directors work with DPDF program staff to prepare a description of their fields in preparation for the opening of the DPDF Student Fellowship Competition. In early spring, research directors assist in the selection of graduate student fellows who have applied to participate within their respective research fields.


Research directors are required to design and lead two workshops to help fellows clarify how their dissertation research plans can benefit from and contribute to the interdisciplinary field.

  • In a spring workshop, research directors help students refine research questions and identify useful methods of investigation, referencing the field’s broader research literature in conjunction with the research plans of their fellows.
  • During the summer, research directors keep in touch with fellows as they undertake exploratory research supported with stipends of up to $5,000, helping with any issues and questions that arise.
  • In a fall workshop, the research directors help fellows draw lessons from their earlier workshop and summer experiences to complete research proposals that can be submitted for approval by their home departments or external funding agencies.

Workshop sessions include seminar discussions, collective and constructive critiques by research directors and fellow students, and presentations about securing research funding. They are structured to assist students in writing dissertation proposals that are intellectually pointed, amenable to completion in a reasonable time frame, and fundable. Throughout the fellowship year, research directors communicate with fellows utilizing an online workspace where they can share resources and initiate group discussions.

Potential applicants may want to view past workshop agendas for examples of workshop structures and activities.

DPDF workshops for all fields are held in the United States at the same time and place, with the exception of international fields (coordinated by the DPDF Program and a partnering institution abroad), which meet in a host country for the spring workshop.

Research Director Benefits

The DPDF program provides each research director with a $10,000 stipend and each field with access to up to $3,000 to cover the costs of guest speakers, local field trips, and other activities for the spring and fall training workshops. All necessary travel and lodging expenses and most meals during workshops are also covered.

DPDF alumni, both former research directors and student fellows, are also eligible for small grants to support follow-up activities that strengthen student research and professional development within their DPDF research field. In the past, the DPDF program has provided partial support for travel to conferences for group presentations, preparation for joint publications, and other collaborative activities between junior and senior scholars.

How to apply

All applications to the faculty field competition must be submitted online through the SSRC application portal. Each applicant in the pair must complete an application with background information; the pair will then jointly submit information about the research field. Deadlines are in early fall, annually.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must apply in pairs.
  • Applicants must be based at different universities, and at least one applicant must be based at a doctoral-degree granting university in the United States. However, both applicants must demonstrate records of carrying out research activities and mentoring graduate students.
  • Applicants must be trained in different disciplines or bring different methodological frameworks to their proposed research field. (Applicant pairs comprised of scholars in the social sciences and humanities are particularly encouraged.)
  • Research fields proposed to be led by more than two people will not be accepted.
  • Both applicants must be tenured at the time of application.
  • Both applicants must be available to attend the spring and fall workshops in their entirety. The workshop dates can be found in the DPDF Application and Award Timeline.

Potential applicants should first refer to DPDF Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Faculty for answers to questions about eligibility. For questions not answered through the FAQ section, please contact program staff at

Application Requirements and Procedures

Contents of application

Each completed application must include:

  • Information about the graduate teaching and advising experience of each applicant (completed within the online portal)
  • A two-page C.V. for each applicant (attached as a pdf within the online portal)
  • Title, description and justification for proposed research field (completed within the online portal)
  • Description of activities and assignments to be conducted in the spring and fall workshops within the context of the research field (completed within the online portal)
  • A one-page bibliography of works which inform the proposed research field (attached as a pdf within the online portal)

Procedures for applicants using the online portal

In order to avoid user conflicts and version control problems within the online portal, one applicant in the pair must agree to initiate the application and complete the research field sections of the application on behalf of both faculty applicants. However, it is the assumption of the DPDF program that all aspects of the research field proposal sections be the product of collaboration between the co-applicants.

  • The first co-applicant must initiate the application and will be prompted to invite the second co-applicant to join the application. The first co-applicant can switch administrative privileges to the second co-applicant at this time.
  • Once the second co-applicant accepts this invitation, both applicants will then be able to view the research field sections of the application. The co-applicant with full administrative privileges is responsible for entering text in the research field sections and uploading the research field bibliography. The other co-applicant will be able to read, but not edit, the research field sections.
  • Both applicants can edit their own personal and teaching/advising information at any time, and are responsible for uploading their own abridged CVs.
  • Once both applicants agree that the entire application is complete, they must confirm this by each submitting the application. The online portal will automatically compile all components of the application into one document.

Additional instructions on submitting an application are included within the online portal itself. Applicants may also wish to refer to the page DPDF Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Faculty, which includes some common questions about completing the online application. For questions not answered through the FAQ section, please contact program staff at

Selection Criteria

Research field proposals should explain how the proposed field incorporates both a fresh approach and multidisciplinary perspectives. They should also explain how workshops will be organized to enable students from various disciplinary backgrounds to explore disparate research questions within the field’s broader intellectual context.

Applications to the DPDF Faculty Field Competition are evaluated on the following criteria:

Conceptualization: Does the proposed field revitalize an existing framework or identify a new research area? Does it combine disciplines and/or research methodologies in new and interesting ways? Are the suggestions for the proposed workshop activities well thought-out and likely to be productive?

Appropriateness: Will including the field in the DPDF Program direct resources to an area of study in need of support and to students who will benefit? Are student participants likely to learn approaches and methods that go beyond and complement those offered in their home departments and universities? How will workshops be organized to enable students from various disciplinary backgrounds to explore disparate research questions related to the field?

Research Directors: How experienced are the applicants in advising graduate students, including from disciplines outside their own? How complementary are their individual and disciplinary backgrounds and research formations? How qualified are the faculty of the proposed field to lead the training of students?

Impact: Will the design of the proposed workshops be effective in helping students to shape their research strategies over the summer and to develop their ideas into well-crafted dissertation proposals? Will the proposed workshop activities enable students’ dissertation research to contribute to the long-term development of a research field?

Program Director
Josh DeWind
Program Officer
Marika Dunn