All applicants to the DPDF student fellowship competition were required to adhere to the following criteria:
- Applicants must have been currently matriculated in PhD programs at accredited universities in the United States.
- Both US citizens and noncitizens were eligible.
- Progress within graduate program:
- Applicants must have completed at least two full years of graduate study (MA and/or PhD) by the end of the spring workshop.
- Applicants must have been on track to obtain approval of their dissertation proposals after the fall workshop but before the end of the upcoming academic year.
- Applicants were obligated to commit to attend the spring and fall workshops in their entirety and to conduct at least six weeks of summer research away from their home institutions between the spring and fall workshops.
- Students who had already submitted dissertation research proposals to their departments for approval or to funding agencies for support of their dissertation research were not eligible to apply.
Applications to the DPDF student fellowship competition were evaluated on the following criteria:
- Potential significance of proposed dissertation topic. The application needed to explain how the proposed dissertation project sought to build upon and add to theoretical or interpretive understandings of current scholarship by posing an innovative research puzzle or question and applying insightful methods of research and analysis.
- Applicant’s readiness for proposal development. Application materials must have demonstrated the applicant’s readiness to develop and refine a dissertation proposal for an academic department or research funding agency. The most competitive students were likely to have completed courses, written papers, or made public presentations related to their dissertation topic.
- Interest in and potential benefit from other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Applicants must have made clear their interest in, and potential for, strengthening their research proposals through exposure to the theories, literatures, methods, and intellectual traditions of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences outside their own.
- Connection between summer research plans and proposal development. Applicants must have explained how undertaking exploratory empirical investigations—using one or more qualitative, quantitative, archival, library-based, or other methods of investigation—would contribute to the development of their dissertation proposals, including how they would explore and evaluate alternative methodologies.