External Funding Incentive Award

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This incentive program is designed to encourage graduate students to develop and submit competitive applications to external agencies for research funding or fellowship support. The incentive consists of a $500 award for first-time submissions to a particular agency, and a $250 award for resubmissions of revised proposals to the same funding agency.



  1. Applicants must be a full-time graduate student in the College of the Liberal Arts applying for a predoctoral grant or fellowship that is comparable in financial magnitude, duration, prestige and competitive nature to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, NIH NRSA awards, and similar programs. To confirm eligibility of a program, consult the list below. Contact Alena Sunderland () to check the eligibility of programs not listed.
  2. Applicants must exhibit exemplary academic achievement and accomplishments commensurate with those qualities that would position a student to be competitive.
  3. Applicants must have a defined area of research interest and the support of a graduate faculty mentor who will work with him/her to develop the application, including the research project plan.
  4. The award must bring a minimum of $5,000 in funding.
  5. Funds must be received while the student is enrolled at Penn State.
  6. Normally, in order to provide support broadly through the College, a student may not receive more than one award in any semester (FA, SP, SU). In exceptional circumstances where additional research projects are fundamentally distinct, and where there is a completely different application to another funding source, the Director of Graduate Studies may request an exception.  Such a request will require a letter from the dissertation advisor as well as the Director of Graduate Studies.

Note: Only students whose home department is in the College of the Liberal Arts are eligible to receive an award under this program.


Pre-Approved Eligibility List

AAUW Fellowship


Berlin Program Dissertation Fellowship, Freie Universitat Berlin

Brookings Research Fellowship

Center for Retirement Research

Chateaubriand Fellowship

Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation

DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)

Doris Duke Fellowships for the Promotion of Child Well-Being

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowships for Minorities (Diversity Fellowship)

Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship


Graduate Research Fellowship for Criminal Justice Statistics

Guggenheim Foundation Dissertation Fellowship

International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF)

IREX (International Dissertation Research and Exchange Board)

Josephine de Karman Fellowship

Juran Fellowship for Joseph M. Juran Center for Leadership in Quality

Language Learning

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Mellon Foundation Institute of Historical Research

Mind and Life Institute

National Foundation of Jewish Culture Fellowship

National Institute Of Justice (NIJ)

NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience

NIH Kirschstein NRSA Fellowship

NSF Fellowship

NSF Dissertation Research Funding

Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Spencer Foundation (Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation/Newcomb Fellowships)

SSRC (Social Science Research Council) Application Procedure

Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

William Orr Dingwall Foundation's Neurolinguistics Fellowship

Download the Intent to Submit Form

  1. Prior to the student submitting a proposal to the respective external sponsor, the College must be notified of the student's intent. This notice must be submitted by the sponsoring faculty member with the following:
    • a completed "Intent to Submit" form, which includes the signature of the sponsoring graduate faculty member (download the Intent to Submit form);
    • a statement that clearly identifies the timeline for submission.
    Note:  If a student has previously received the award, the sponsoring graduate faculty member is asked to explain how the proposal is substantively different.
  2. Once a completed proposal has been submitted to the funding source, the sponsoring graduate faculty member must provide confirmation of the submitted proposal (forwarding electronic confirmation of the application received from the funding agency by email is sufficient). Upon receipt of confirmation of submission, the student's award will be processed.


Deadline for Applications

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year (i.e., there is no specific call for nomination or deadlines).  Applications received after June 1st cannot be awarded until the next fall semester.

All applications that require an official institution signature must go through this office, but all students (and their advisors) are welcome to seek advice on any part of the application process. Students should not wait until the last minute to seek advice. For applications submitted through this office, notification four weeks in advance of the deadline is recommended.

Additional Funding Resource

The Graduate School is often made aware of individual funding opportunities for graduate students. When the Office of Fellowships and Awards Administration receive information on funding prospects, it compiles the information into a database of external awards. This database, however, is limited to the information that is received by the office; therefore, it should not be considered inclusive. Your advisor, department faculty and staff are knowledgeable sources of additional information and should be consulted directly (Click here to access the Grad School External Awards Database).

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