The UW Graduate School's Core Programs sends out relevant events, resources and opportunities directly to current graduate students and postdoctoral fellows bi-weekly. (GPA/GPCs: No need to re-post to your students, unless you want to emphasize a particular item!)
Now that you’ve settled in to the start of a new school year, it’s a great time to begin strategizing about funding your graduate education and research! It may seem early, but for many funding opportunities, the window between September and December is when the majority of applications open for next year’s funding rounds—whether you’re interested in scholarships, travel funding, or fellowships and grants to support your graduate research. Even looking ahead to next summer, this is a great time to start investigating funding opportunities.
Where to Start
When considering funding their graduate educations, many students turn to Google first. But for anyone who has ever searched for “funding for grad school” or “scholarships,” you’ve probably found that the world of funding can be a complex and messy place if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But where do you start? What resources should you be reviewing, and what things should you consider as you begin to find opportunities in your field and beyond?
- Talk to your academic program! Your program coordinator or advisor should be the first contact you make when looking for funding. They will have great information not only about UW-specific funding, but also funding from outside the UW, as well. They can also provide advice based on previous students’ funding experiences.
- Look into the differences between internal and external funding. Internal funding is specific to your department or UW as a whole, often including assistantships, department fellowships, tuition waivers, and university scholarships. External funding—which also includes opportunities such as fellowships, scholarships, and grants—is offered by organizations outside the university, and are available regardless of where you are studying. Professional organizations, government agencies, and corporations are just a few of the types of organizations that provide external funds for graduate study.
- Consider your identity as an academic and as an individual. Organizations related to your field of study at the national, regional, and local levels are a great place to expand your search after discussing your needs with your department. But you don’t have to limit yourself to your academic field! Also consider different aspects of your identity: heritage, ethnicity, faith, volunteer work, and job experience are just a few other ways to identify funding opportunities. Take the time to create a short list of keywords to help you identify not only what you study, but also who you are. These keywords will help you navigate through the funding world by identifying opportunities that are relevant to you.
- Take advantage of funding databases. You should never have to personally pay to access a funding database! If you are asked to, it’s usually a good sign the site is a scam. However, UW does subscribe to two great databases that provide reliable information on upcoming grants and awards: SciVal and GrantSelect. There are also many databases maintained by other universities that are very useful when looking for external funding. A list of these databases can be found on the GFIS Guide.
- Strategize and plan! Draft versions of your cover letters early, find academic and employer references (the more you can identify, the better as it is always a good idea to have back-ups), keep your CV or resume up-to-date, and create a document that details what funding opportunities you are applying for and the specifics of those awards (requirements, contact information, deadlines, other specific information, etc.).
Please visit the UW's Graduate Funding Information Service website for more information, including drop-in hours and scheduling in-person appointments. You can also follow the GFIS blog for news and breaking opportunities.
We thank Dana Bublitz, Graduate Funding Information Service Manager, for these fantastic tips!