DPDF Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students
Eligibility and Selection Criteria
How and when can I apply for the program? Is it through my institution, through the research directors, or directly to your site? You must apply directly for the program using the online application available on the SSRC website. You do not need an institutional nomination, nor should you contact the research directors.
Does the DPDF require a nomination? No. This is an open competition. Students apply directly to the SSRC with no campus nomination required.
Is this program open to international students? The DPDF is open to all students, regardless of their nationality, who are currently enrolled full-time in a doctoral degree-granting program at a US institution. 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 this specific information.
I am currently in a master's program. I have applied and intend to begin a PhD program in the fall. My master's is in the same, or a similar, field as my expected PhD program. Am I eligible for the DPDF? No. To be eligible for the DPDF, you must be actively enrolled in a PhD program at a US institution.
I am a U.S. based student in my first year of study in a PhD program, but I have already started to think about what I will do for my dissertation. As a very "early-stage" graduate student, am I eligible to apply? Only in exceptional circumstances will the DPDF accept applications from first-year students. One such exception might be if you’ve already completed a master’s degree in your field of study or a closely related one.
I am a U.S. based student in the fourth year of a PhD program. I have passed my comprehensive exams and am currently working on my dissertation proposal. Am I eligible to apply for the DPDF? Although designed for second- and third-year students, the DPDF program will accept applications from fourth-year students if there is a compelling reason that the student has not yet completed a dissertation proposal for approval by his or her home department, such as if the student had a major change in his or her intended field or discipline.
I am a third-year student based in the U.S. who intends to start working on a dissertation proposal while I take my last course and my last comprehensive exam. Am I eligible? You are eligible to apply for a DPDF whether or not you will have passed your comprehensive/general/qualifying exams as long as you have not had your dissertation proposal formally approved by your department before the fall workshop.
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 you are at the appropriate stage in your PhD program.
I have Incompletes remaining on my transcript. Am I eligible to apply? Yes, students may apply with Incompletes. In order to participate in the DPDF program, however, students must have finished all incomplete course work and have removed any Incompletes from their transcripts before the spring workshop.
I have applied for SSRC’s IDRF program but have not yet heard back. Am I eligible to apply for a DPDF? No. If you have applied this year or in previous years for an IDRF, or for any major funding for dissertation research, you are not eligible for a DPDF. If your application for a major funding opportunities has been found ineligible or incomplete, you are still not eligible for the 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-dissertation doctoral students who are conducting exploratory research for their dissertation proposals.
I am interested in applying to one of the 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. Please 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 five research fields. Can I apply to more than one field? Can I submit multiple applications during the same cycle? No. You may only apply to one research field per application cycle.
I applied during a previous DPDF cycle and was not awarded a fellowship. Can I reapply? Can I reactivate my previous application, or do I need to create a new application? You can reapply for a DPDF if your research topic is compatible with one of the five research fields offered in the current fellowship application. However, you must start a new application, and you must apply to one of the five research fields in the current fellowship application.
Pre-dissertation Summer 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 support, as necessary. Additionally, you will be responsible for securing visas and any other required documents for entry or 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 formal request for research funds.
What research expenses are eligible for funding? The DPDF may award funds toward expenses such as airfare, lodging, transportation, basic living expenses away from your home institution, and select research supplies. The DPDF will not award funds to cover expenses related to fees, courses, tuition, or conference expenses, 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? Yes. You may apply for funding, but you must inform the SSRC if and when you receive other support for your pre-dissertation research. You may be able to keep both awards should you be successful in your applications, and SSRC will coordinate with the other funder(s) 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. You may only contact DPDF staff.
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 expenses (airfare, hotel, meals, ground transport) will be paid for by the SSRC. DPDF staff will either make arrangements or offer you a maximum sum with which to arrange your own needs.
Do I need to complete the application all at 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 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 format 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 in total PDF format.
I am an international student applying for an international research field. May I write my application in a language other than English? No, the DPDF workshops and all correspondence are conducted entirely in English, and it is expected that all applicants to the program be able to write and speak fluently in English. Therefore, we require that all applications be written in English.
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 references submit a letter, only the first reference 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 may not ask a research director of the field for which you are applying to write your reference letter.
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 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.