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

AAUW American Fellowships support women scholars completing doctoral dissertations. Applicants must be U.S.
citizens or permanent residents. Candidates are evaluated on the basis of scholarly excellence; quality and originality of project design; and active commitment to helping women and girls through service in their communities, professions, or fields of research. Dissertation fellowships stipend $20,000. Deadline: November. This competition charges a modest application fee.

AAUW International Fellowships

AAUW International Fellowships provide support for women pursuing full-time graduate (MA or PhD) or postdoctoral study in the United States who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants may apply at any stage of their graduate career, with level of support varying from $18,000-$30,000 per year. Preference is given to candidates who demonstrate commitment to the advancement of women and girls, and who plan to return to their home country to pursue a professional career. A limited number of awards are renewable for a second year. Deadline: November. This competition charges a modest application fee.

American Sociological Association (ASA) / NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants

The NSF program for doctoral dissertation research grants in Sociology is currently administered by the ASA. The NSF Sociology Program supports basic research on all forms of human social organization and processes of individual and institutional change. The Program encourages theoretically focused empirical investigations aimed at improving the explanation of fundamental social processes. Doctoral Dissertation Improvement (DDRI) grants provide funding for research expenses to improve the quality of doctoral dissertation projects undertaken by students enrolled in U.S. universities. Funds may be used to defray direct costs associated with conducting research, for example, dataset acquisition, additional statistical or methodological training, meeting with scholars associated with original datasets, and fieldwork away from the student's home campus. The amount of the award is determined by the budget, but typically under $16,000. Deadline: October/November.

American Sociological Association (ASA) Minority Fellowship Program

This program offers fellowships to doctoral students of color in any sub-area or specialty in sociology, including social psychology, gender and sexuality, education, medicine and health, inequalities and stratification, race and ethnicity, and more. Applicants must be US citizens/nationals, permanent residents, or DACA who are members of one of the following racial/ethnic groups: Blacks/African Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indians or Alaskan Natives, and Asian / Pacific Islanders. The fellowship offers one year of support, including an $18,000 stipend, tuition, and funds for ASA conference travel. Deadline: January

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program provides funding to the very best postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to Canada's economic, social and research-based growth. Seventy Banting fellowships (valued at $70,000 per year for two years) are awarded annually with an equal distribution among CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC. The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program is unique in its emphasis on the synergy between the applicant and the host institution, including demonstrated alignment of the supervisor’s research, the applicant’s research and the institution’s strategic priorities

Suitability of Candidates

Boren Fellowships

upports overseas language training in less-commonly studied languages/regions for graduate students in any field of study. Applicants at all stages of graduate education are accepted. Language study may be combined with research or internship. Will not support travel/study in Western Europe. U.S. citizens only. This program carries a post-graduation service requirement (paid employment) with the US Federal Government. Deadline: January

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.

CLIR Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) offers fellowships funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for dissertation research in the humanities and related social sciences in original sources. The goal of the program is to encourage more extensive and innovative uses of original sources in libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and related repositories in the U.S. and abroad. Award amounts vary. Application deadline: December.

Center for Engaged Scholarship (CES) Dissertation Completion Fellowship for Social Scientists

Fellowships are for advanced doctoral students in the social sciences whose work will contribute to progressive change – specifically, making U.S. society less unequal, more democratic, and more environmentally sustainable. The fellowship supports the final year of dissertation writing / defense. No citizenship restrictions. Stipend:
$25,000. Deadline: December.

Center for Retirement Research (Boston College) Dissertation Fellowships

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College sponsors the annual Dissertation Fellowship Program in the field of retirement and disability research. The program is funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration to provide funding opportunities for doctoral candidates to pursue cutting-edge research on issues related to retirement and disability issues. Specific areas focus are listed at the web site. Stipend $28,000. Deadline: January.

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

Administered by the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation, the Newcombe Fellowship is a dissertation completion award intended to encourage original and significant study of ethical or religious values in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. Approximately 20 awards of $25,000 are made per year for twelve months of full-time dissertation writing. Deadline: November.

Cosmos Scholarships

he Cosmos Club Foundation of Washington D.C, offers a small grant ($500-$4,000) in support of research in any field to graduate students at D.C. metro area universities. Open to both MA and PhD students with no citizenship restrictions. This grant can only be used to cover direct research costs that are otherwise un-supported, or in some cases costs associated with attending a professional conference. Application deadline: November 1.

Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)

Both CAORC and its member institutions offer fellowships for PhD and postdoctoral research abroad. Requirements and deadlines vary. See web site for details.

Critical Language Scholarships (CLS)

Full funding to attend an overseas summer language program in one of fifteen designated “critical” languages. For some languages no prior study is required. For others pre-requisites apply, see web site for details. Open to U.S. citizens in all fields and degree levels. Deadline: November.

Civil Society Fellowship

Candidates for the Civil Society Fellowship are at an inflection point in their career between the ages of 25 and 45. The ideal Fellow would be would be an individual who has demonstrated a capacity to build a community, movement or organization. Each class of Fellows will be comprised of 20-23 individuals who represent a range of attributes including gender, geography, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, ideology and political affiliation. ADL and the Aspen Institute expect and encourage Fellows to challenge one another’s ideas respectfully in conjunction with our commitment toward engaging a multitude of perspectives. However, the Fellowship will not accept nominees who express hate or intolerance toward others based on their particular ideas or identities.

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.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Program

The Ford Foundation Program of the National Academies offers Pre-Doctoral, Dissertation, and Post-Doctoral awards for PhD students in research-based programs who intend to pursue academic careers. This award is open to US citizens and permanent residents (plus DACA and others with special status) in most fields of study, including Sociology. The goal of the program is 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 AND/OR (b) Whose research and career goals indicate a likelihood of using the diversity of human experience as an educational resource in teaching and scholarship. Deadline: November.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers grants for one academic year of overseas research/study OR English language teaching. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who will have completed a bachelor’s degree by the start date of the grant, but do not yet hold a Ph.D. Continuing students in both MA and PhD programs are eligible, as are students who have recently completed an MA. Though the Fulbright program is not a doctoral dissertation research program, it is possible to use a Fulbright grant to conduct dissertation research abroad. Requirements vary by country; some countries require foreign language proficiency. This application requires a campus-level review process to obtain institutional endorsement – please see the Director of Graduate Fellowships. Deadline falls annually on September 15.

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship

The Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship offers six to twelve months of funding for overseas dissertation research in areas outside western Europe. The competition is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are advanced to doctoral candidacy and who possess the language skills necessary to complete their project. This competition currently runs on an irregular timeline, with deadlines typically falling in January for awards beginning October – March. Must be submitted by the institution on the student’s behalf; see the Director of Graduate Fellowships to apply.

Global Sustainability Scholars Program

The Global Sustainability Scholars Program is now accepting applications from graduate students from partnering Universities (CSU, CU Boulder, and GMU). This is an opportunity to become a GSS Fellow, which offers a paid - 10 week professional experience, traveling abroad with GSS Scholars and surveying international research teams focused on urban sustainability in food, energy and water nexus - “PLUS” after the summer experience, the Fellow will work with Future Earth up to 50% time for the following 9 months coordinating the Future Earth SUGI NEXUS projects. To apply follow this link:  https://www.gsscholar.org/apply. Applications deadline is March 31st, 2019.   

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 dissertation completion for studies pertaining to violence and aggression in 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. No citizenship requirements. Deadline: February 1.

Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy

The Horowitz Foundation offers grants of $7,500 to doctoral students working on dissertation projects with a social policy application on either the local or global level. Applicants must have an approved dissertation topic. Supplemental funding is offered in certain identified areas of focus; see the web site for details. No citizenship restrictions. Application deadline: December.

Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship

Scholars must apply for federal and institutional financial assistance each year of study. The Cooke Foundation determines individual scholarship awards after reviewing each recipient’s other financial award offers. Please note that there is a $50,000 academic year cap, with the exception of one-year programs. 

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

The ACLS/Mellon fellowships support advanced graduate students in the humanities and related social sciences
(including Sociology) during the final year of Ph.D. dissertation writing. The program encourages timely completion of the Ph.D. Applicants must be prepared to complete their dissertations within the one-year fellowship period. Approximately 65 fellowships of $35,000 (plus other funds to support research and educational costs) are awarded annually. No citizenship restrictions. Applicants must NOT have progressed further than the 6th year or the doctoral program. Deadline: October.

NAEd / Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

The NAEd / Spencer program offers $27,500 dissertation completion fellowships in support of individuals whose dissertations show potential for bringing fresh and productive perspectives to the history, theory, analysis, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world. Applicants may come from any field of study, including Sociology. Postdoctoral fellowships are also offered at a funding level of $70,000.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

The National Science Foundation’s flagship graduate fellowship program supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported disciplines (including Sociology) who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. Candidates apply when seeing admission to a graduate program or in the early semesters of graduate study. The GRFP provides three years of support, including a stipend of $34,000 per year, plus tuition and access to professional development opportunities. Limited to U.S. citizens / nationals and permanent residents. Deadline: October.

P.E.O. Scholar Awards

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards are one-time, competitive, merit-based awards intended to recognize and encourage academic excellence and achievement by women in doctoral-level programs. These awards provide partial support for study and research.

PMF (Presidential Management Fellowships)

The PMF Fellowship places recent recipients of graduate degrees in a two-year salaried position in the US federal government. Students apply in the last year of graduate school or within two years after graduation. PMFs receive special professional development and rotational opportunities designed to train them for management level careers in the federal government. Open to U.S. citizens in all fields of study.

Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

Supports 1-2 years of graduate study for students who are recent immigrants (e.g. naturalized citizens of the U.S.) or the children of recent immigrants. All fields are eligible, but applicants must not be beyond their second year of graduate study in their chosen field. Stipend $25,000 plus tuition support and other benefits. Deadline: October.

Russell Sage Foundation
Small Grants & Summer Workshops 

The Russell Sage Foundation offers Small Grants for doctoral students conducting research in areas of interest to the foundation, including: Behavioral Economics; Decision-Making and Human Behavior in Context; Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Social, Political, and Economic Inequality. Funded opportunities are also available for graduate students and postdocs to participate in summer workshops in related topic areas. Postdoctoral scholars may be eligible to apply to the foundation’s visiting scholar programs.

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 

REB (Southern Regional Education Board)-State DSP is a regional award open to Ph.D. students at George Mason University. Two types of fellowship are offered: The Doctoral Award supports new Ph.D. students for up to three years. The Dissertation Award is a one-year award for students who have been advanced to doctoral candidacy and are working on their dissertation. The goal of this program is to contribute to the diversification of the professoriate by supporting 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 members after earning the Ph.D.

Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Fellowships and Awards

SSRC runs a large number of fellowship programs for scholars in the humanities and social sciences, some of which are open to graduate students and postdocs. See the website for more information.

SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF)

Offers 9-12 months of support to advanced doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences who are conducting dissertation research outside the US. 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. No citizenship restrictions. The applicant must have sufficient proficiency in the host country language to conduct independent research. Deadline: November.

Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) Dissertation Scholarships

Scholarships support doctoral students in the social sciences and related disciplines pursuing a broad range of topics, including gender, ethnicity, and social inequity. See web site for a list of specific scholarships offered in a given year. Eligibility requirements and award amounts vary. Deadline: April.

Smithsonian Institution Office of Fellowships and Internships

The Smithsonian Institution offers fellowships in support of pre-dissertation, dissertation, and post-doctoral research in a wide range of fields making use of SI collections and research centers. See web site for descriptions of available awards, eligibility requirements, and stipend levels. SI also offers internships; these are mostly unpaid shorter-term assignments, but can help students network and learn more about SI with an eye toward future fellowship opportunities.

Woodrow Wilson Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies

This fellowship is offered to Ph.D. candidates at institutions in the United States whose research focuses on issues related to women, gender, women’s studies or feminist/gender/LGBTQ theory. The award offers $5,000 to be used for expenses connected with completing the dissertation, such as research-related travel, data work/collection, and supplies. Candidates should be advanced to candidacy at the time of application. No citizenship or gender restrictions.

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

The Udall Foundation awards two one-year fellowships of up to $24,000 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. Dissertation Fellowships are intended to cover both academic and living expenses.

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.