Frequently Asked Questions
Click on any of the questions below to read the answer. If you have a question that isn’t answered on this page, please let us know. Please note that while we welcome all visitors to our website, we are able to provide individual guidance only to Rutgers graduate students.
We hope that you find the information and resources on our website to be useful. GradFund is only able to work with currently matriculated Rutgers graduate students.
GradFund is a service of the School of Graduate Studies. We assist graduate students with identifying and applying for merit-based research grants and fellowships to support graduate study and research.
Begin by learning about different kinds of funding and the different stages of graduate study at which awards are available. Schedule a meeting with GradFund to discuss your options for applying for external funding.
Some U.S.-based funders, particularly the U.S. government, restrict eligibility for fellowships to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Funding opportunities do exist for international students, however. You can limit your award search results in the GradFund database and the Pivot database to awards for which international students are eligible. Always confirm your eligibility to apply by carefully reading the funder’s website and the call for applications, and contact the Program Officer if you have any questions about your eligibility to apply.
Merit-based external funding awards for graduate students come from outside of the university to provide support for graduate student living expenses, tuition, training, and research activities.
GradFund maintains a database of awards and funders who support graduate study which contains nearly 4000 awards and over 1800 funders. Search the database using broad keyword terms or the names of awards or funders. If you use highly-specific keywords to describe your research, you may not find all of the relevant results.
Contact Assistant Dean Teresa Delcorso-Ellmann using our contact form for more information about the Fulbright programs for Rutgers graduate students, well in advance of the on-campus deadlines.
The Fulbright fellowships encompass two separate programs and are available to students who wish to go abroad as a part of their graduate studies. They are the Fulbright U.S. Student Grants and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program.
Graduate Funding Mentoring Programs
Watch for announcements of upcoming GFMP sessions, or contact us for more information.
GFMPs run several times a year, and can range in duration from a few weeks long to a two-month long proposal writing program.
GFMPs are structured, self-directed, fully online programs designed to facilitate the development, review, and critique of fellowship and grant applications to support graduate and postdoctoral study. These programs are designed to help Rutgers graduate students at any stage of study and at every level of grant writing skill, from novice to expert.
GFMPs consist of a series of elements designed to immerse graduate students in the proposal writing process and contribute to the development of competitive external grant and fellowship applications. Components include structured writing activities, cohort-driven engagement through weekly forum posts, small group peer review sessions, and optional individual appointments. While learning to apply for external research support effectively, GradFund GFMP participants will also gain valuable experience presenting their work to their peers and engaging in peer review. GFMPs are hosted on GradFund’s Mentoring Program Sakai site.
Proposal Writing 101
Most funders fall into two categories: government and private organizations. Each funder has a specific set of goals that it sets out to achieve, and it’s important to do preliminary research on these goals. As you research, gather information on the funder’s motivation for offering the award, what criteria they use to evaluate applicants, and the components of the application. Call the program officer with any questions.
GradFund suggests starting on proposals 4-6 months before the due date, which is plenty of time to go through all of the steps to submit a proposal. This includes time early on in proposal planning to review eligibility criteria, gather instruction materials, and understand the goals of your funder. Constructing your essay drafts also involves a considerable time investment. You can then solicit feedback from your advisor and GradFund while going through multiple iterations of drafting your application. The last step is finalizing your materials and submitting the application. Because it is such an involved process, it’s best not to leave proposal writing as a last minute endeavor.
In general, your research proposal will have to provide a clear picture of all the details of your research project, from the big picture questions, such as “What are you researching? Why are you researching it? How does it address the funder’s goals?” to the specific details, such as relevant literature citations, methodologies, and expected outcomes. Typical sections of the research proposal are: introduction, literature review, methods, and contribution to the field. However, review specific proposal guidelines in the funding application for more information.
A strong proposal is one that is clear, concise, and compelling. It should be easy for the funder to see the importance of your work, the promise you have as a researcher, and the connection you have to the funder’s goals. This includes eliminating jargon and concretely defining your project.
It is best to solicit feedback from multiple sources. It is important to be in contact with your research advisor or faculty mentor from the start of the proposal writing process because they are the experts in your field, can provide guidance on the content of the proposal, and may have past experiences with applying for a particular funder. We also suggest scheduling multiple meetings with GradFund, who can provide proposal advice on organization, clarity, and appealing to a particular funder’s goals. During the proposal writing process, it’s also a good idea to get feedback from peers, mentors, and friends within and outside your field to gain multiple perspectives.
Rutgers Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP)
Each department has an assigned grant specialist who can be found through the ORSP website.
ORSP manages and oversees the submission of grant applications that require an institutional endorsement process. ORSP conducts negotiations for a wide variety of grant-related agreements, and provides regulatory expertise to the faculty committees governing the protection of human subjects as well as the use and care of animals. Consult the ORSP website for advice and guidance on completing the university endorsement process in advance of submitting grant applications that require an institutional endorsement.
If you are applying for a research grant or fellowship that requires an institutional endorsement or authorized signature, you will need to process your application through ORSP. Be sure to contact your grant specialist early in the application process.
We hope that you have found the information on this page to be helpful. If you still have any unanswered questions, please get in touch!