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. Read this year's Proposal Guidelines (PDF).

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 2024 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.


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

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

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 or Student Group Funding from Graduate Student Affairs.

The deadline for submission is October 15, 2023 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.

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 2023:

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

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

The Graduate School requires a year-end report on activities funded by this award; find the Final Report Template (PDF).  Reports for the 2023 funding year are due on January 31, 2024, and reports for the 2024 funding year are due on January 31, 2025.

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.

Blog Posts by Grant Recipients

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