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Professional Development Grant

Pathology Department Etiquette Dinner
Pathology held an etiquette workshop and dinner to build
community, communication skills, and professionalism
with a 2017 Professional Development Grant.

Professional development needs across disciplines may vary. For this reason, The Graduate School offers the Professional Development Grant to fund department/program and student efforts to offer professional development programming. This includes activities that support the development of transferable skills relevant to a range of careers, not limited to the tenure-track path. Programming that is only relevant to an academic faculty career must be balanced with parallel programming for students pursuing diverse career options.

Departments/programs and students may request up to $2,000 from the grant to fund their efforts to provide professional development programming and resources during the 2022 calendar year (January-December). Proposals are solicited once a year in the fall. The deadline for proposals is always October 15 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

what kinds of topics could be funded?

  • Career decision-making (e.g., academe vs. industry)
  • Job search strategies
  • Negotiation skills
  • Alumni networking events
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Work-life balance
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Conflict management and communication skills
  • Mentorship and advising skills
  • Presentation/communication skills
  • Faculty career topics, such as the academic job search, applying for positions at teaching institutions, finding a postdoctoral position, first year on the job, the tenure process, job searching in a difficult economy, etc. Note: These topics must be balanced with parallel resources for students pursuing diverse career paths.
  • Career paths beyond academia (careers beyond academia for PhDs, invited speakers from industry, alumni events, CV to résumé workshops, etc.)

Career Options with an Interdisciplinary Policy PhD Panelists
Public Policy hosted a panel discussion focused on career
possibilities for interdisciplinary policy Ph.D.s with funding
from a 2019 Professional Development Grant.
Pictured: Dr. Bocar Ba, Dr. Eva Szalkai Csaky,
Dr. Liana Fox, and Dr. Heather Huntington.

What's New for the 2022 funding year?

For the 2022 grant year, proposed expenditures should reflect the possibility that in-person events may need to be converted to virtual events, should campus conditions necessitate a change. Any in-person events should be planned in accordance with the University’s most current coronavirus guidance.

who can apply?

  • Faculty or administrators of any academic program that falls within the purview of The Graduate School
  • Ph.D. and research master’s students

To encourage dialogue about professional development among multiple members of departments and programs, preference will be given to proposals that include many perspectives in the planning and implementation—that is, faculty-led proposals that include student members in their organizing committees and student-led proposals that include faculty members.

Since this award is focused on departments and programs, GPSG-recognized student groups are not eligible to apply (since they can apply directly to GPSG for funding). Instead, these groups should consider resources such as GPSG's Alumni Engagement Fund.

what is the Deadline?

The deadline for submission is October 15, 2021 by 5 p.m. ET. Proposals must be submitted via Qualtrics survey and must follow the Proposal Guidelines (PDF). Award decisions will be communicated in December.

How can I prepare a successful proposal?

You can find strategies for a successful proposal in this blog post from the Grant director. Two open office hours sessions will also be available to speak with the Grant director during fall 2021:

Individual meetings are available to discuss proposal ideas as well. Please contact Dr. Bostrom to arrange a meeting time.

what are some examples of past winning proposals?

For information on past awards, please see our list of past grant recipients and blog posts by students who participated in funded activities.

What must be included in the year-end report?

The Graduate School requires a year-end report on activities funded by this award; you can find a template for the content of the report here. Reports for the 2021 funding year are due on January 31, 2022, and reports for the 2022 funding year are due on January 31, 2023.

Note: This grant program is based on the model developed by The Graduate School at Northwestern University. We make grateful acknowledgement to Kate Veraldi, director of student services, for her advice in adapting their model.

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Past Recipients


Melisa Bostrom, PhD
Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development
Duke University Graduate School