DPDF Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Student Applicants

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Eligibility and Selection Criteria
Summer Research Funding

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

How and when can I apply for the program? You must apply directly to the program using the online application available on the SSRC website.

Does the DPDF require a nomination? No. This is an open competition. Students apply directly to the SSRC with no campus nomination required. Similarly, fellowship awards go directly to fellows, not through their institutions.

Is this program open to international students? The DPDF Program is open to all students, regardless of their nationality, who are currently enrolled full-time in a PhD program at a US institution. Fields labeled "international fields" are open to doctoral students enrolled in universities within select countries who are in their first year of their program. Refer to each research field’s description in the current application cycle for more detailed information.

I am currently in a master's program. I have applied for admission and intend to begin a PhD program in the fall. Am I eligible to apply to the DPDF Program? No. To be eligible to apply to the DPDF Program, you must be actively enrolled in a PhD program at a US institution at the time of application.

I am enrolled in a JD/PhD, MD/PhD or other joint doctoral program. Am I still eligible for a DPDF? Yes, applicants enrolled in joint doctoral programs are still eligible for the DPDF student competition, provided that they are at the appropriate stage in their PhD programs to apply.

I will be taking my comprehensive/qualifying exams this spring but I will not be defending my proposal within my department until the fall. Am I eligible to apply? Yes. You can apply to the DPDF Program if you will have taken your exams as long as you will not be defending your dissertation proposal in your department before the end of the fall workshop.

I have plans to defend my dissertation proposal within my department this spring. Am I eligible to apply? No. Applicants who will have defended their dissertation proposal within their department any time before the end of the fall workshop are not eligible to apply.

I have incomplete courses remaining on my transcript. Am I eligible to apply? Yes, students may apply with incompletes.

What do you consider as "funding for dissertation research"? We consider such funding to be awards such as grants or fellowships that 1) provide funds to be used for research over a significant length of time (e.g. more than 3 months); 2) are intended for use by students in the ABD stage of their PhD programs; and 3) generally–although not always–offer substantial monetary awards. If you are unsure whether an application you have submitted falls into this category, please contact DPDF staff.

I have applied for funding to support long-term dissertation research but I won't hear back until the spring. Am I eligible to apply for a DPDF? No. If you have applied this year or in previous years for any funding for dissertation research, you are not eligible to apply for a DPDF. Even if your application for a major funding opportunity has been found ineligible or incomplete, or if you feel that you submitted a poor quality application with little chance of being funded, you are still not eligible to apply for a DPDF.

Can I use the fellowship to write my dissertation? No. The Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship does not support dissertation writing. The fellowship is intended to support pre-ABD doctoral students who are conducting exploratory research to develop their dissertation proposals.

I am interested in applying to one of the research fields this year, but I am unsure whether my topic is a good fit for the field. Should I contact the field’s research directors directly? No. Do not directly contact a field’s research directors directly with questions about a potential application to the DPDF Program. Contact DPDF staff with all inquiries.

I am interested in more than one of the research fields offered this year. Can I apply to more than one field? No. You may only submit an application to one research field per application cycle.

I applied during a previous DPDF cycle and was not awarded a fellowship. Can I reapply? You can reapply for a DPDF if your research topic is compatible with one of the research fields offered in the current fellowship year and you meet current eligibility requirements. However, if you are eligible to apply, you must start a new application.

Summer Research Funding

Does the DPDF Program have any geographic restrictions? No. The DPDF Program has funded pre-dissertation research in all areas of the world. However, your proposal must address any potential challenges to security, access to information, or visa requirements, as necessary. If you receive a DPDF award, you will be responsible for securing visas and any other documents required for entry and/or permission to conduct summer research in your anticipated research site(s).

Is there a minimum length of time required for summer research? You are required to conduct at least 6 weeks of summer pre-dissertation research during the fellowship year.

May I request to conduct research at more than one site? Yes, applicants may propose to conduct pre-dissertation research at more than one site. Please make sure to describe and justify these plans in detail in the proposed research and budget section of the application.

If I am selected as a fellow in the DPDF Program, will I automatically get funds for summer research? No. You must specify in your application an estimated budget for summer research expenses, as well as an explanation of these expenses. If you are selected as a fellow, you will be asked to submit a more detailed budget for research funds.

What research expenses are eligible for funding? The DPDF Program may award funds toward expenses such as airfare, lodging, transportation, basic living expenses away from your home institution, and limited research equipment and supplies. The program will not award funds to cover expenses related to fees, courses, tuition, or conferences, or living expenses (e.g., storage, rent, mortgage) at your home institution.

I have applied for other pre-dissertation research funding opportunities, but I will not hear until this spring. Should I apply for funding from the DPDF Program? Yes. You may apply for other pre-dissertation funding opportunities for exploratory summer research, but you must inform DPDF staff if and when you receive any of them. You may be able to keep other awards should you be successful in your applications, but the DPDF Program reserves the right to adjust its funding to you for summer research as necessary.


If I get a fellowship from the DPDF Program, do I have to attend both workshops? I have a longstanding obligation that coincides with the dates of one of the workshops. Yes. If awarded a fellowship, you must attend both workshops in their entirety. If you know that you will be unable to be present at one or the other, you should not apply to the DPDF Program.

Can I contact the research director in the field to which I am applying to find out more about the workshops? No. Contact DPDF staff with all questions.

How can I get a sense of what the workshops will be like? Are the workshop agendas for this year’s fields already available? The workshop agendas for past research fields are available online here. Workshop agendas for the upcoming year’s research fields will only be available to fellows immediately prior to each workshop.

Do I have to pay my own way to attend the workshops? No. If awarded a fellowship, your necessary expenses to participate in the workshop, such as airfare, hotel, meals, ground transport will be paid for by the DPDF Program. DPDF staff will make your arrangements or, in special circumstances, will offer you a maximum sum with which you can arrange your own travel needs.


Do I need to complete the application all in one sitting? No. You may return to the application as many times as necessary until the application deadline. Be sure to save your work after you finish each section of the application. Once the application has been submitted, you will no longer be able to alter the information.

Do I need to convert my bibliography into PDF format myself? I do not know how to perform this conversion. Yes. You must convert your bibliography document into PDF format. You may do so by using Adobe Professional or a similar online program. If you are unable to perform the conversion, please contact your university IT services for assistance.

What size font and spacing should I use for my bibliography? Please create a one-page, single-spaced, portrait-oriented document using an 11-point font size.

Is there a specific bibliographic format that I must use? Please provide a standard, not annotated, bibliography, not exceeding one page in PDF format. You may use whatever bibliographic style you prefer as long as it remains consistent throughout the document.

My bibliography document was exactly the correct length in a word-processing program, but when I convert it to PDF format, it exceeds the page limit. Is that permissible? No. Your bibliography should not exceed one page total in PDF format.

How do I submit transcripts? Applicants must upload a scanned or digital copy of an unofficial or official transcript from each graduate degree-granting institution they have attended or are currently attending. Please make sure all PDFs are legible before uploading. You will be able to upload up to five transcripts, each with a limited file size.

I have taken courses at a community college, summer courses, study abroad (or something similar), but I did not receive a degree from this institution. Do I need to upload the transcript? No. It is not necessary to upload these transcripts.

I received my MA from an international institution. Should I upload the original transcript, the English translation, or both? Please upload the original transcript as well as an English translation of the transcript.

Can I submit more than one reference? If I request more than one reference, can I choose which one should be included in my application? No. You may not submit more than one reference. If you request more than one reference and both referees submit a letter, only the first letter submitted through the online portal will be reviewed with your application.

I am a student of one of the research directors for the field to which I want to apply. Can I ask him/her to write a reference letter on my behalf? No. You must ask another faculty member who is familiar with your work to write a reference for you.

The person I want to ask to write my reference letter is on sabbatical and/or has limited Internet access. Can I request an extension for this recommendation? No. All application materials are due by the application deadline.

Will the DPDF Program accept reference letters submitted by facsimile, hard copy, or e-mail? No. All reference letters must be submitted through the online application portal before or on the application deadline.

I use Mac OS X™, and I am having difficulty uploading my documents. What should I do? There is a known problem - specific to the Mac OS X™ machines - with uploading files over a secure connection. You may upload files using any of the following options: 1) Use Apple™’s browser, Safari™ 2) Upload your file using another computer not running OS X™

I am encountering problems when I try to "View/Print Application" on the application portal. What should I do? Check to make sure that your browser's pop-up blocker is not interfering with the SSRC website. If you are working in Firefox, try working in Safari or Internet Explorer. If you continue to have difficulty, please fill out the technical-support form on the online application portal.