Rutgers - School of Graduate Studies

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


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.


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

Eligibility vs. Competitiveness: Understanding the Difference and Why It Matters

Eligibility is one of the most important factors an applicant should look into as they are searching for funding options. After all, if they don't fit within the criteria specified by the funder, applicants will be disqualified from the competition even if they submit...
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Finding Funding for International Research: A Beginner’s Guidepost

There are myriad awards, some of which are open to both domestic and international students, that allow an applicant to conduct up to a year of research abroad. At Rutgers, our students generally look into these opportunities to conduct a portion of or their entire...
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Grant Writing: A Fundamental Tool for Building Your Scholarly Community

Doctoral students seeking grants and fellowships generally think about funds as the primary reason for applying for extramural awards. At GradFund, we often remind students that applying for grants and fellowships is not merely about acquiring financial support, but...
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Applying for History Research and Travel Grants

At GradFund, we offer graduate students and post-doc scholars alike, guidance and advice for applying to different types of external funding. Most students know about the Fulbright-Hays fellowships, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and...
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So You’ve Decided to Apply for Funding: Tips on Planning Your Next Step

As a fellowship advisor, one of the questions that I most frequently encounter at the end of my meetings with students is, "What do I do next?" By asking this question, students are right on point in identifying a crucial piece of knowledge in their interaction with...
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Coping with Imposter Syndrome

As a graduate student, have you ever felt like you don't belong? That you're not actually that smart? That you got into your program by a fluke, and soon everyone will find out? That is called "imposter syndrome," and many graduate students experience it. Imposter...
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Is Archival Research Right for Me? (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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Expansion and Enrichment – Funders and Your Network

Photo by Dina Lydia on Unsplash One of the most important professional development activities in academia is networking – building professional relationships within and without one’s chosen field. This includes academic collaborations and institutional contacts for...
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Asserting Your Narratives – A Defense of Narcissus

We've discussed how the personal statements matter as much as the research statements for STEM applicants. But we haven't really discuss what to include or how to approach your various narratives. From a content perspective, narratives are an exercise in...
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Writing Grant Proposals When Your Research Project Has Changed

Suggestions on writing strong funding applications often emphasize the significance of starting out early. This, in general, is great advice. By making a head start on your applications, you will not only have time to develop your project, but also to get feedback...
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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!

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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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Meet with Us!

Introducing A New Booking System!

We look forward to meeting with you!  Effective May 2017, we are using a new meeting booking system to manage GradFund appointments.

Whether you are a new or returning user, if you have not yet used our new meeting platform WCOnline, please click on the first time user link to set up an account so you can log into the system.

First visit? Click here to register. Returning? Log in below to book a meeting.

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