Sociology and Anthropology
College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Dissertation fellowships provide support to Ph.D. students in the research and writing phases of the doctoral dissertation. Typically, to accept such an award a student must be advanced to doctoral candidacy, meaning they must have completed all required coursework and received formal approval for their dissertation proposal by the start date of the award (though not necessarily at the time of application!) Some awards are designed to support “dissertation research” – that is, the research phase after advancement to candidacy but before writing has begun. Others support “dissertation writing” or “dissertation completion.” These awards are intended to see the student through the final months of work on the dissertation. Finally, there are awards that may be used for either research or writing – though in general such awards tend to go to students who are more advanced in their program.

Dissertation fellowship competitions may cast a wide net, or be highly targeted toward a specific discipline, field, topic, demographic group, or career aspiration. Support may be full or partial, but is typically a one-time award and rarely awarded for more than one academic year.

Most deadlines fall between October-January for the subsequent academic year, and applications generally take at least 4-6 weeks to complete. Interested students are encouraged to plan ahead and discuss their plans with their Dissertation Advisor and the Director of Graduate Fellowships.

In addition to the opportunities listed below, be sure to visit Mason's general list of fellowship opportunities. 

AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research

Support for outstanding minority students to undertake dissertation research relating to education. Student need not be in an Education program, but dissertation topic must relate to education. $12,000 for one year plus $1,000 for travel to AERA professional conference. Supplemental awards are allowed. Open to US citizens and permanent residents who are African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

AAUW American Fellowships / International Fellowships

AAUW American Fellowships support women scholars completing doctoral dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research, or finishing research for publication. Recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Dissertation fellowships are currently set at $20,000 for the academic year. International Fellowships are open to women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and may also be used for doctoral research.

CASVA Predoctoral Fellowships

The National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) offers both residential and non-residential fellowships for advanced graduate research in the history, theory, and criticism of art, architecture, urbanism, and photographic media. Currently nine fellowships are offered with tenures ranging from 12 to 36 months. Requirements for each vary; prospective applicants should consult the web site for additional information. No citizenship restrictions for those enrolled in U.S. universities. Please note that you must be nominated for this fellowship by your program director or department chair in order to initiate the application process, and that certified proficiency in two languages other than English is required of all applicants.

CASVA Predoctoral Fellowships for Historians of American Art to Travel Abroad

The National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts offers up to six fellowships to doctoral students in art history who are studying aspects of art and architecture of the United States, including native and pre-Revolutionary America. This fellowship is for a period of four to six weeks of continuous travel abroad to sites of historical and cultural interest, including museums, exhibitions, collections, and monuments. The fellowship is intended to encourage experience beyond the candidate's major field, not for the advancement of a dissertation. Preference will be accorded to those who have had little opportunity for research travel abroad. The amount of the award is dependent on the travel plan, with a maximum of $6,000. Please note that you must be nominated for this fellowship by your program director or department chair in order to initiate the application process.

Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program

The Rangel Program offers graduate fellowships to outstanding seniors and college graduates who want to join the Foreign Service. These fellowships help finance two-year graduate programs, provide two summer internships, mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer, and other professional development activities. The Rangel Program also accepts undergraduate students to participate in the six-week Summer Enrichment Program that prepares global-minded undergraduate students for careers in international affairs. Both programs are competitive and seek applicants with a strong academic background, a commitment to service, and an interest in making a difference in the world around them.

Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships

Dissertation completion fellowship to encourage original and significant study of ethical or religious values in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. In addition to topics in religious studies or ethics, topics such as the ethical implications of foreign policy, the values influencing political decisions, the moral codes of other cultures, or religious and ethical issues reflected in history, art, or literature are welcome. Approximately 20 awards of $25,000 are made per year for twelve months of full-time dissertation writing.

College Art Association Professional Development Fellowships in Art History

Two Ph.D. candidates in the field of Art History will receive a one-time award of $5,000 each. Limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Deadline: Late September.

Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowships (Art History)

The Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship is awarded annually to a Ph.D. candidate at a university in the United States who is working on a dissertation related to modern art and modernism. Please note that candidates must be nominated for this award by their department, so interested candidates should consult with their department chairs regarding the nomination procedure. In most years a single award of $20,000 is made.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Program

Pre-Doctoral, Dissertation, and Post-Doctoral awards for PhD and Sc.D students intending academic careers as scholars and teachers. This award is open to US citizens in most fields of study. The award aims to promote diversity in higher education by funding candidates: (a) Who are a member of an under-represented minority, including Alaska Natives, Black/African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native American Indians, Native Pacific Islanders, and Puerto Ricans. (b) Whose research and career aims demonstrate a likelihood of using the diversity of human experience as an educational resource in teaching and scholarship.

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship

Six to twelve months of funding for overseas dissertation research in areas outside western Europe. Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are advanced to doctoral candidacy, in good standing at their university, and who possess the language skills necessary to complete their project. Please note that graduate students may still apply to the regular Fulbright U.S. Student Program ( to support overseas dissertation research, although that program, unlike this one, is not primarily intended for that purpose and supports other kinds of international student exchange activity as well.

Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Dissertation Fellowships

Dissertation completion award of $20,000 for candidates in the final year of their Ph.D. program. The HFG Foundation supports research on violence and aggression in relation to social change, intergroup conflict, war, terrorism, crime, and family relationships, among other subjects. Field / discipline is open, but dissertations with no relevance to understanding human violence and aggression will not be supported.

Jack Kent Cooke Dissertation Fellowships

Supports advanced doctoral students researching and writing dissertations that further the understanding of the educational pathways and experiences of high-achieving, low-income students. Applications welcomed from a variety of disciplines, including (but not limited to) education, sociology, economics, psychology, statistics, and psychometrics. Amount of award is $25,000 used over 9-18 month period. Four awards were offered in 2011 with plans to increase in the future.

Jennings Randolph Peace Scholarship Dissertation Program

Open to students enrolled in US universities who are researching and/or writing doctoral dissertations on topics related to peace, conflict, conflict resolution, and international security. Proposals from all disciplines are welcome, with preference given to research that shows clear relevance to policy issues. No citizenship restrictions. The award is currently set at $20,000 for ten months.

Joseph L. Fisher Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships

Supports the final year of doctoral dissertation research/writing for research on issues related to the environment, natural resources, or energy. Proposals in economics and social sciences are the primary target, although proposals from the sciences with obvious relevance for environmental policy matters will also receive consideration. Open to both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, provided the latter have proper work/residency documentation.

Josephine de Karman Dissertation Fellowships

Dissertation completion fellowship for the final year in the Ph.D. program ONLY. Doctoral students apply in the winter of their penultimate year in the Ph.D. program for support in the subsequent (and final) year. Open to students in any discipline without citizenship restrictions. Special consideration will be given to applicants in the humanities, though awards are made in a range of disciplines. Approximately 10 awards of $22,000 each per year.

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships

Dissertation completion fellowship in the humanities and related social sciences. For use in the final year of the Ph.D. program. No citizenship restrictions. Approximately 65 fellowships of $30,000 (plus other funds to support research and university fee costs) awarded annually.

NAEd / Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Dissertation completion fellowship of $25,000 for research in any discipline relevant to the improvement of education, with emphasis on research that brings fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world. Open to all disciplines with no citizenship restrictions, but research must focus on education.

P.E.O. Scholar Awards

One-time competitive, merit-based awards for women who are either pursuing a doctoral level degree or are engaged in postdoctoral research. (Citizens of the U.S. and Canada only.) These awards provide partial support for study and research for women who will make significant contributions in their varied fields of endeavor. Candidate must be within two years of completion and have at least one year of academic work remaining. Priority is given to women who are well established in their programs, study or research.

Smith Richardson World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship

Supports research and writing of policy-relevant dissertations on American foreign policy, international relations, international security, strategic studies, area studies, and diplomatic and military history. Funds can be used toward dissertation research (including fieldwork, archival research, or language training) and writing. Preference will be given to projects that have the potential to directly inform U.S. policy debates and thinking, rather than purely theoretical or scholarly debates. The foundation awards up to 20 grants of $7,500 each.

SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program (Southern Regional Education Board)

SREB is a regional award open to minority Ph.D. students at eligible universities, including George Mason University. Two types of fellowship are offered: The Doctoral Award supports new Ph.D. students (applying for admission or in their first year of Ph.D. program) for 3-5 years of doctoral program study, including tuition and stipend. The Dissertation Award is a one-year award (tuition and stipend) for students who have been advanced to doctoral candidacy and are working on their dissertation. The award is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are members of a racial or ethnic minority and plan to become a full-time college or university faculty member after earning the Ph.D. Open to most fields, with STEM fields particularly encouraged to apply.

SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF)

Offers 9-12 months of support to graduate students in the humanities and social sciences who are enrolled in doctoral programs in the US and conducting dissertation research outside the US. Students enrolled in Ph.D. programs in public policy, public health, and education, may be eligible to apply if their research projects engage directly with broader theoretical and analytical issues in the humanities and social sciences. Research topics may address all periods in history, but applicants should call attention to the broader implications of their work as it relates to contemporary issues and debates.

Udall Environmental Public Policy and Conflict Resolution Ph.D. Fellowship

Two one-year fellowships of $24,000 awarded to doctoral candidates whose research concerns U.S. environmental public policy and/or environmental conflict resolution and who are entering their final year of writing the dissertation. Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. Note: Due to funding constraints this award will not be offered in 2012. The Udall foundation hopes to offer the award again in 2013. Interested candidates should continue to check the web site and anticipate the next application deadline in Fall 2012.

UNCF / Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowships

Up to two years of support for doctoral level (Ph.D. or M.D.) research and degree completion in the sciences and engineering for African American candidates. Funding level varies according to length of award, up to $53,500 plus mentorship by a Merck scientist or engineer. Candidate must be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.

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