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Office of Graduate Student External Grants and Fellowships | GradFund

Proposal Writing 101

Welcome to the GradFund Proposal Writing 101 Resource Page. We have developed this page to provide you with general assistance with the development of a proposal for a funding application. By using these resources, you will learn the mechanics of proposal writing and best practices in grantsmanship while you develop an outline of your funding application, including the research proposal, supporting materials, and the application form(s).

We encourage you to complement your work here with individual meetings with a GradFund fellowship advisor. We are able to provide individual consultations to graduate students who are applying for external funding. While we are unable to offer individual consultations for internal awards, feel free to use the resources on this page as you develop your Graduate School-New Brunswick pre-dissertation, special opportunity, or Bevier Fellowship applications.

Understanding Your Funder

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What are they looking for?

What is the mission of the funding agency? What is the goal of this award competition? Considering the funder’s goals for this fellowship or grant, in what ways are you a competitive fit for this award?

What does this fellowship include?

What impact would this award have on your graduate career? How would these resources shape your trajectory in a way that is a fit with the goals of the funder?

Who is eligible to apply?

Carefully research your eligibility to apply before you craft your application materials. If the award’s website and other documents don’t bring you clarity, contact the program officer.

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When should I apply?

Many awards target a specific stage of study, and you may need to apply up to a year in advance of funds being disbursed to you, should you win. Work with your advisor to decide when it makes sense to begin working on your application.

Ready to write your application? Scroll down for GradFund Resources.

If you need to look for other funding opportunities, use our award search.

GradFund Resources for your Funding Application

Keep in Touch

Sign up for the GradFund newsletter for important news about funding opportunities and new resources to help you apply for them. Our blog is also a great source for fresh advice and news about graduate funding.

Step-By-Step Workbook

The GradFund Proposal Writing 101 tutorial will take you step-by-step through the process of writing your fellowship or grant application. From getting to know your funder to completing the last piece of the application, this guide will get you there.

Forums & Chat

Use our forums to exchange ideas with your peers and GradFund staff about applying for external fellowships and grants. We also offer an online chat service called ‘Ask a Fellowship Advisor,’ where you can ask quick questions about our services, your scheduled meetings, or application procedures.

Meet with Us

Meet with a GradFund Fellowship Advisor for a Help with a Funder or Application Essay Conference meeting. Learn more about our meeting types and other services here.

Proposal Writing 101 Tutorial

We have developed the Proposal Writing 101 tutorial to assist you in the development of any merit-based fellowship, grant, or scholarship. Our tutorial is designed to teach you best practices in proposal development, to understand how to get to know your funder, and to help you with the task of writing a competitive application.

Proposal Writing 101

Articles & Advice

A Bronx Approach to Research and Funding (Advice from the Archives)

Advice from the Archives Series Note: Occasionally, we dig into the archives to uncover a post we feel holds relevant and timely information worthy of a repost. If you are interested in learning more about research grants and fellowships to support your graduate...
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Knowing the “When?” (Roundup Post)

Graduate students have many things to juggle simultaneously, and one of the biggest struggles is to know what one should be doing at what point. Because each graduate program is different, each graduate student has to be aware of different timelines and stages. But no...
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First Steps in Revising (Advice from the Archives)

Advice from the Archives Series Note: Occasionally, we dig into the archives to uncover a post we feel holds relevant and timely information worthy of a repost. If you are interested in learning more about research grants and fellowships to support your graduate...
Read More

Time to Plan – The Spring Semester (Advice from the Archives)

Advice from the Archives Series Note: Occasionally, we dig into the archives to uncover a post we feel holds relevant and timely information worthy of a repost. If you are interested in learning more about research grants and fellowships to support your graduate...
Read More

The Reviewer’s Perspective: What You Should Know As You Write Your Application

  I recently had the opportunity to serve as a peer reviewer for a national fellowship competition. It was an interesting and even enjoyable experience and in this post, I would like to share with you some of the things that I learned while serving as a reviewer....
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The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program: Strategies for Writing a Competitive Application

The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program is a unique opportunity to apply to spend two years working with a public or private organization committed to advancing the public good and to hiring recent humanities PhDs.  Dr. John Paul Christy, Program Director for Public...
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A Fellowship to Do Some Cool Things

We typically write about fellowship and grant opportunities that are designed to support you and to advance your work on a scholarly project.  In this post, I want to share with you the benefits of a different type of fellowship:  one that will support you as you gain...
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Signposting for Success: Writing Tips for Funding Applications

No one likes being lost. Whether it’s looking for a classroom in a new building, visiting your great aunt in Pittsburgh for the first time, or trying to track down the fabled secret bowling alley in the basement of Loree Hall on Douglass Campus. After enough time...
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Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

GradFund is a grant and fellowship application development service run by a staff of deans, Fellowship Advisors and Peer Mentors. We have a unique staff of graduate and post-doc students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. You may come from Comparative...
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Three Common Pitfalls when Writing Abstracts

Abstracts are a challenging but important part of any fellowship application. The abstract is often the first (or one of the first) components of your application that the reviewer sees. Therefore, it is important to use the abstract to give the reviewer the best...
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Proposal Writing Workbook

Once you’ve watched Proposal Writing 101, dive into our Proposal Writing Workbook. The workbook will take you step-by-step through the development of a funding application.

Login for Access!

In order to access the step-by-step guidance found in our Proposal Writing 101 Workbook, please log in to our website using your Rutgers Scarletmail credentials.

GradFund Forums

Use our forums to ask questions about your application and exchange application tips!

Join the Discussion

Stay in Touch!

Sign up for the GradFund Newsletter to get up-to-date news and advice on fellowship and grant competitions.

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Schedule a Meeting

Request a ‘Help with a Funder‘ meeting if you would like to meet with a GradFund fellowship advisor to learn more about your funder’s application process and review criteria. Once you have draft materials ready for feedback, schedule an ‘Application Essay Conference‘ for in-depth review and discussion of your application draft. Learn more about our services, including additional meeting types and programming, here.

GradFund’s goal is to help graduate students to find and apply for funding from sources external to the university.  We are unable to provide advice or feedback on internal Rutgers funding competitions.

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