DPDF Student Fellowship Competition
Providing mid-stage graduate students with support to formulate effective doctoral dissertation proposals
Not currently accepting applications.
The Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (DPDF) Student Fellowship Competition is organized to help mid-stage graduate students in the humanities and social sciences formulate effective research proposals through scholarly exchange within interdisciplinary areas of study.
Each year, the program offers dissertation proposal development workshops led by pairs of tenured senior faculty in the US and abroad who define emerging or reinvigorated multidisciplinary research fields. These research field directors lead groups of 12 graduate students through two workshops during the fellowship cycle. The spring workshop prepares students to undertake summer preliminary research that will inform the design of more robust dissertation research in the future. The fall workshop helps students apply their summer research experiences to writing both dissertation and funding proposals. Students may apply for up to $5,000 to cover summer research costs. Travel and accommodations to attend both workshops are covered by the DPDF Program.
Working together with faculty research directors, graduate students design research that will help to shape evolving fields in the humanities and social sciences. Additionally, through the program's collaboration with international research institutions, the DPDF creates a space for international as well as domestic network building among fellows.
The 2013 Research Fields are as follows: Critical Approaches to Human Rights,Global Commodity Studies, Mobility, Empowerment and Precarity in African Migration (International Field), Postcolonial Identities and Decolonial Struggles: Creolization and Colored Cosmopolitanism (International Field), and Public Finance and Society: The New Historical Fiscal Sociology.
- Research Fields
- Structure of the DPDF Program
- Eligibility Criteria
- Application Requirements and Procedures
- Selection Criteria
Each year, the DPDF program selects five different fields of study for dissertation research proposal training, choosing emerging or reinvigorating fields that address broad public concerns and can be approached from multiple intellectual, societal, and geographic orientations. Each domain of inquiry centers on a core set of issues and questions that can valuably be addressed by the intellectual perspectives and research styles of different humanities and social science disciplines, encouraging the development of interdisciplinary networks that engage both doctoral students and senior scholars. Usually, at least one research field is formed through an international partnership with a non-US research institution, expanding the potential for cross-national dialogue.
Student applicants are asked to review carefully the current research field offerings and assess into which research field, if any, their project best fits. For questions regarding proposed projects' conformity with a field, please contact DPDF staff.
DPDF annual cycles are organized around spring and fall workshops that bracket student fellows' summer research. Student fellows are required to participate in both workshops, which help clarify their dissertation research plans and to demonstrate how their research can both benefit from and contribute to the interdisciplinary field.
- In a spring workshop, fellows work with their research directors in both individual and group settings to refine research questions and identify useful methods of investigation, referencing the field's broader research literature in conjunction with their own research plans.
- During the summer, fellows undertake exploratory research, which can be supported with stipends of up to $5,000.
- In a fall workshop, fellows work with their research directors to draw lessons from their spring workshop and summer experiences to refine research proposals that can be submitted for approval by their home departments or external funding agencies.
DPDF Workshops for all fields are held in the United States at the same time and place. International fields meet in a host country for one of the workshops.
The DPDF program covers all necessary travel and lodging expenses for fellows to attend both workshops, as well as and most meals during the workshop period. In addition, applicants may request up to $5,000 to support direct summer research expenses. Please refer to the DPDF Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students for guidelines as to allowable expenses.
DPDF alumni—both former research directors and student fellows—are 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, group presentations at association meetings, preparation of joint publications, and other collaborative activities between junior and senior scholars.
The DPDF program is open to doctoral students in social science or humanities disciplines who have completed their major course requirements and are beginning to design research proposals.
- Applicants must be currently enrolled full time in Ph.D. programs at accredited universities within the U.S. For international fields, students enrolled in Ph.D. programs within the U.S. and other selected countries are eligible to apply. Please check each research field's description for more information.
- Applicants may only apply to participate in one research field.
- Applicants must confirm that they can attend both the spring and fall workshops in their entirety prior to submitting an application. Please check each research field's description for workshop dates and locations.
- Applicants must commit to undertake at least 6 weeks of pre-dissertation summer research related to the development of their dissertation proposals.
- Applicants at U.S. universities must delay seeking departmental approval of their dissertation proposals until after the fall workshop is completed. However, students who have completed their comprehensive, general, or qualifying exams are eligible to apply. Typically such students will be second and third year graduate students, but first and fourth year students may, under certain circumstances, be eligible. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
- Students who have previously submitted applications for funding to support long-term dissertation research, or whose applications are currently pending, are considered to have completed their dissertation proposals and are no longer eligible to apply to the DPDF program. Similarly, students who have already undertaken long-term research on their proposed dissertation topic are not eligible to participate in the DPDF program.
Contact DPDF staff for all inquiries regarding the program, eligibility, or application process. Before doing so, please read the DPDF Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students which provides answers to common questions. Please do not contact research directors directly with questions.
All applications to the student competition must be submitted through the SSRC application portal by the posted deadline.
Each completed application must include:
- Online application form (available within the online portal): Information regarding the proposed dissertation topic and its relevance to the research field, outline of preliminary research plans, proposed research budget, relevant research and employment experiences, applicable language skills, and listing of previous, current, or pending funding opportunities in graduate school. (Sample application available here.)
- A one-page bibliography (uploaded in pdf format to the online portal)
- Copies of unofficial or official transcripts from all prior and current graduate degree granting institutions (uploaded in pdf format to the online portal)
- One letter of reference, to be written by the applicantís advisor or the faculty member who can best speak to the applicantís research interests and abilities (uploaded to the online portal by referee)
All necessary instructions for submitting an application are included within the online portal itself. Applicants should read the Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students should they have any questions about completing the application. For questions not answered through the FAQ section, please contact program staff at email@example.com.
Student applications will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:
Originality of proposed dissertation topic. The dissertation topic must suggest an original contribution to an existing body of scholarship. It should acknowledge and build on such scholarship while presenting a new research question and suggesting a substantive and appropriate methodological direction in the research. Topics that are interdisciplinary and comparative are especially encouraged.
Fit of proposed dissertation topic within selected research field.The dissertation topic must fit within the applicant's selected research field as described in the field's description on the DPDF website. Applicants will be assessed on how their topics can both draw from and contribute to the stated aims of the research field and the interdisciplinary dialogue within the field.
Preparation of the student. Applicants should make clear in what way they are prepared to benefit from participation in the program They should have completed sufficient course work related to the research field for which they are applying. The most competitive students will have completed one or more research papers or presentations related to their research field (undergraduate honors papers, major research papers, M.A. theses, workshop or conference presentations). Students must be in good standing in their home departments and must finish all incomplete course work and have removed any "Incompletes" from their transcripts before the spring workshop.
Preliminary summer research plans. Preliminary summer plans must justify the necessity and relevance of undertaking on-site, empirical investigations-whether qualitative, quantitative, archival, or library-based related to the dissertation topic. Students should describe the kinds of investigations they expect to pursue and sources they might consult and outline a research timetable. It is recommended that students make formal and professional contacts at their research sites.