• Applications go through a multi-tiered review process and will be evaluated by a panel of scholars with a range of disciplinary and regional perspectives. We suggest you ask someone outside of your discipline to read your proposal before submitting it. Write in clear, intelligible prose. Strive for clarity on both topic and methodology and minimize disciplinary jargon.
  • You are permitted ten double-spaced pages to write about your project and research goals. We suggest you do not submit a proposal that is significantly shorter than ten pages.
  • Adhere to the application guidelines.
  • Read through the selection criteria posted on our website and in the application portal and take these criteria seriously.
  • Be sure to allow yourself enough time to write carefully considered responses to each of the three research relevance questions in the application. These questions, along with your project abstract, will be the criteria by which your application is evaluated in the first round of review.
  • Submit your application in advance of the deadline.


Am I eligible to apply for the IDRF grant if I am not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States?

Yes. The IDRF welcomes proposals from full-time graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who are enrolled in PhD programs in the United States, regardless of citizenship.

If I have not yet obtained ABD status at the time of application, can I still apply?

Yes. Applicants for the 2022 competition must achieve All But Dissertation status (completed coursework and passed qualifying exams) by the time the proposed research begins or by December 2022, whichever comes first. They must also fulfill all other eligibility requirements.

Am I eligible for IDRF funding if I am a student in a discipline such as art history, literature, or philosophy?

The IDRF accepts proposals from all disciplines within the humanities and humanistic social sciences. All applicants should specify why site-specific research is critical to the successful completion of the proposed doctoral dissertation. If you have any questions about whether your discipline or topic is eligible for IDRF funding, please contact us.

Are doctoral students enrolled in professional degree programs (EdD, PsyD, etc.) eligible to apply to the IDRF program?

No. The IDRF program accepts applications from students enrolled in PhD programs only.

What do you mean by on-site, site-specific research? Does this apply to applicants from disciplines in the targeted humanities list?

“On-site, site-specific” research means that the researcher must be at the specified location for an extended period of time. Research that can be done at any location, either online or via interlibrary loan, will not be funded by the IDRF program. This requirement applies to all applicants from all disciplines, regardless of whether or not they are conducting US based research. The IDRF program will not fund research at an applicant’s home institution unless that research is specific to an archive or other collection located at that institution or city. In addition, the IDRF program will not support dissertation write-up either at the home institution or elsewhere.

Does the IDRF program have any geographical restrictions?

No. The IDRF program has funded research in all areas of the world. Your proposal should address any potential challenges to security, access to information, or visa support, as necessary.

Will the IDRF fund applications that propose research on the United States?

Proposals within Native American studies or those that identify the United States as a case for comparative inquiry are welcome; however, proposals which focus predominantly or exclusively on the United States are not eligible.

Will the IDRF fund applications that propose research within the United States?

Yes. The required minimum research outside the United States is dependent upon your discipline. For select humanities disciplines (Art History, Architectural History, Classics, Drama/Theater, Film Studies, Literature, Musicology, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Political Theory, and Religion), that minimum is three months. For all other disciplines (including Anthropology, History, and Political Science), applicants must conduct at least six months of research at a non-US site. All research, including research within the US, must be site-specific.

Does the IDRF fund research on topics within US Indigenous studies, even if that means all research will be conducted within the United States?

Yes, IDRF funds dissertation research on topics within Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander studies, including Native lands, places, and spaces that are located within US and territorial jurisdictions.

Do I need to be enrolled as a full-time student in order to be eligible for an IDRF grant?

Applicants are expected to be affiliated with a university and progressing toward a PhD and in good standing. They do not need to be paying semester fees.

I am already conducting research overseas. Can I use an IDRF to extend my research?

Applicants who will have completed significant funded dissertation research after receiving post-ABD status in one country by the start of their proposed IDRF research are not eligible to apply to the IDRF to extend research time in the same country. Applicant eligibility will be determined at the discretion of the program. Applicants who have undertaken unfunded research in the same country, funded research prior to obtaining ABD status, or research in a different country are eligible to apply. Please contact the program if you are unsure of your eligibility status.

What is the minimum length of research?

Fellowships provide support for six to twelve months of on-site, site-specific dissertation research. No awards will be made for proposals requiring less than six months of research. The IDRF-funded research must take place in a single continuous period of 6-12 months within the eighteen months between July 2022 and December 2023.

Application Process

I am a PhD student at a university in a US territory. Am I eligible to apply for the IDRF award?

Yes, PhD candidates at universities in US territories are eligible to apply. However, your project must be about a non-US topic and cannot primarily focus on the territory in which you are attending your PhD program.

My dissertation project is about a US territory. Is it eligible for the IDRF award?

Yes. As long as you are not completing your PhD at a university in that territory, you may use the IDRF award to conduct research in a US territory.

How do I apply for the IDRF award?

The IDRF application must be filled out online and can be accessed through the Online Application Portal. You will also use this portal to contact your language evaluator(s), complete the research relevance section, enter your personal statement, upload your research proposal and bibliography, and send reminders to language evaluators.

When is the deadline for the 2022 IDRF application?

Applications must be complete and submitted online before 9:00pm (ET) on November 2, 2021. The language evaluation(s) must also be submitted online by the same deadline.

I applied last year. Can I edit my old application and resubmit it?

No. You will need to start over with a new online application and request new language evaluation(s).

Where do I find the language evaluation forms?

There are no forms. You must use “Language Evaluations” section of the online application to contact language evaluators. Once you have entered your evaluator’s contact information, they will receive an email with instructions on how to submit the language evaluation online. The submitted material will be automatically added to your application.

Do I need to complete the application all at once?

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 you have examples of proposals that have been awarded fellowships?

No. The IDRF program does not provide examples of proposals that have been awarded fellowships. However, you may visit our website to learn more about the research that current fellows are conducting. For suggestions on proposal writing, we encourage you to consult The Art of Writing Proposals.

What is IDRF’s review process? 

The IDRF program has a three-tier review process to evaluate applications. Evaluators at every level of review are US-based faculty from a range of institutions and disciplines. Applications will be read by evaluators who are outside of both the region and discipline of the applicant, as well as evaluators within the applicant’s region and discipline. In the first tier, screeners will read the project abstract and answers to the three research relevance questions. In the second tier, reviewers will read the entire application and evaluate it based on the originality of the research topic, the appropriateness of the methodology, the attention paid to disciplinary discussions, the interdisciplinarity and cross-regional perspectives of the project, its ability to speak to a broad scholarly audience, the justification of the proposed on-site research plan, the applicant’s academic preparation, and their relevant language ability. In the third tier, selection committee members will assess the overall quality of the proposal, the preparedness of the applicant to undertake the research, and the potential scholarly contributions of the project. The selection committee members meet in person to discuss the applications and select the IDRF cohort.

Can I submit my online application even if my language evaluation(s) have not been received?

Yes. You are strongly encouraged to submit your online application well in advance of the deadline. There is no need to wait for your evaluation(s) to be received in order to submit your application – they will be automatically added to your application. You may continue to check the status of your language evaluation(s) and send language evaluators a reminder by logging into the application portal and selecting your application in the left-hand sidebar.

Application Components

Do I need letters of reference?

The IDRF program does not ask for letters of reference, but it does request language evaluation(s) if applicable.

Do I need to submit a language evaluation?

You do not need to submit a language evaluation form if you will be conducting research in English or your native language(s). Applicants conducting research in another language are strongly suggested to submit a language evaluation with their application.

Language evaluators should be qualified individuals who are able to test your proficiency in the language(s) needed for your on-site research at the time of your application. Ideally, your evaluator will be a language instructor at a university, in the United States or abroad; however, exceptions can be made for less commonly taught languages. Departmental language exams will not be accepted as proof of language proficiency. A sample language evaluation can be found here.

Does my language evaluator have to be at my institution?

No. Ideally your language evaluator will be someone at your institution who is qualified to assess your language capabilities; however, it is not a requirement that this person is from your institution.

Does my language evaluator have to hold a PhD?

No. It is not a requirement that your language evaluator holds a PhD; however, the evaluator must have the appropriate language qualifications required to conduct this particular language evaluation.

I think the language I am using would be considered a less commonly taught language. How do I know if an exception can be made for who conducts my language evaluation?

It is not a requirement that the language evaluation come from an instructor at your institution. If no one at your institution can conduct the evaluation, the next step would be to reach out to a language instructor at another institution. If geographical limitations present a problem, keep in mind that it is possible to conduct the evaluation over Skype or Zoom. Please refer to the sample language evaluation form for a sense of what the evaluation entails. If you still do not think you can find a language instructor to conduct the evaluation, please contact us.

Should I include a budget in the proposal?

No. Do not include a budget in your proposal. If you are selected as an IDRF fellow, we will work with you to make budget determinations.

Are there formatting requirements for the research proposal and bibliography?

Yes. Your research proposal and bibliography should be collated as two separate .pdf files. Research proposals must be double-spaced and not exceed ten pages in length (including any appendices, footnotes, or end notes). The bibliography must not exceed two pages and must be in standard bibliographic format.

The proposal and bibliography must be in Times New Roman 11-point font type with at least one inch margins on all sides. Proposals must be formatted with double-spacing. Footnotes and endnotes may be single-spaced but must be included within the ten pages. The bibliography may be single-spaced. Proposals not adhering to these guidelines will not be considered.

Can I submit photographs or charts with my application?

Yes, but any non-textual material must be included within the ten-page limit.

Do I need to submit transcripts with my application?

No. Transcripts are not required at the time of application. Relevant coursework and grades should be listed in the course report section of the online application. However, you should be prepared to submit one official transcript for each graduate-level school you have attended (including any degree certificates from graduate institutions outside the United States) upon request of the program.

Do I need to send letters of affiliation with my application?

No. Do not submit letters of affiliation with your application.

How will I know that my application is complete?

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation email from the SSRC. You may continue to check the status of your language evaluation(s) and send language evaluators a reminder by logging into the application portal and selecting your application in the left-hand sidebar.

Technical Support – Proposal and Bibliography Document

My proposal and bibliography documents were exactly the correct length in my word processing program, but when I convert it to a .pdf file, it exceeds the page limit. Is that acceptable?

No. Your proposal may not exceed ten pages in total as a .pdf file and your bibliography may not exceed two pages.

I added page numbers to my proposal document, but when I converted it to a .pdf file, the formatting changed.

We recommend that you use the footer function for page numbering, rather than the header function.

Fellowship Awards

When will award announcements be made?

Incomplete and ineligible applicants will be informed of their status by December 2021. All other applicants will be contacted by the program via email about their status in February 2022. Fellows and alternates will be named in April 2022.

What happens if my project is selected for funding?

You will be asked to submit an estimated budget outlining the funds you will need to complete your project. This will be taken under consideration, along with any other funds you may have received, when your final award amount is determined.

When can I begin my IDRF research if I am selected for funding?

IDRF-funded research may begin in July 2022 (research conducted prior to July 2022 will not be supported by IDRF). All 2022 fellows must commence fieldwork by January 2023.

What is the IDRF grant amount?

Fellowship award amounts will vary depending on the research plan. The 2022 per-fellowship average award amount is $23,000.

What does the IDRF grant cover? Conversely, what doesn’t the IDRF grant cover?

The IDRF grant will cover fellows’ travel, research, and living expenses for six to twelve months of dissertation research. The IDRF grant will not cover tuition costs, dependent living expenses, taxes, or dissertation write-up.

I am applying for multiple grants. Should I be awarded an IDRF grant, can I also accept funding from other sources?

Yes, but fellows cannot accept funding from IDRF and another organization for the same expenses at the same time. The IDRF program will work with fellows to construct a budget that is acceptable to IDRF and to other funding organizations.

Do IDRF awards go directly to the fellows or are they channeled through a university?

All awards are paid directly to the IDRF fellows.

Does the IDRF offer support for visas and IRB clearances?

No. Fellows are responsible for their own travel arrangements and research clearances.