Non-Departmental Sources of Funding

Published: Tues., June 11, 2019

While many graduate students are funded through teaching or research assistantships offered by their departments. However, there may be times when you want or need to seek additional funding beyond your department, whether to help support conference travel, your research needs, or to replace an assistantship that is no longer available in your department.

External Fellowships and Grants

Professional organizations, federal agencies and others may offer external fellowships or grants you can apply to. In some cases, these fellowships can be quite prestigious and well funded. Here’s a selection of a few you should consider:

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

This program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based masters and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), which includes many social science fields, or in STEM education. Check here for allowed disciplines and degrees. It provides three years of funding, which currently includes a $34,000 stipend each year and $12,000 education allowance. Applications are due in October each year. Graduate students may only apply once during their first or second year. Undergraduate students can apply in their final year.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship

The goal of this program is to develop predoctoral researchers, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, into scholars. This fellowship is particularly focused on those in biomedical, behavioral or clinical fields.

AIGC Scholarship Programs

If you have Native American heritage and a specific tribal affiliation, you may be eligible for AIGC's scholarships for graduate students. Students in all fields are welcome to provide if they have Native ancestry.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs

The Ford Foundation Fellowships focus on increasing the diversity of university faculty and are especially interested in supporting underrepresented minorities. They offer two kinds of fellowships: a predoctoral fellowship and a dissertation completion fellowship. Applications open in September and will be due in December.


More external funding opportunities are available here: https://research.unl.edu/proposaldevelopment/funding.php You can request weekly email updates for grants and fellowships in your field.

Dissertation Awards

AAUW American Dissertation Fellowships

The AAUW provides financial support for women as they work toward finishing their dissertations in their final year of their doctoral program. Applications open in the fall, and you need to have successfully completed your preliminary exams and had your dissertation research plan approved.

APA Early Graduate Student Researcher Award or Dissertation Research Award

The APA offers 30-40 awards of between $1000 and $5000 to support dissertation research needs. They also offer a Early Graduate Student Award to recognize graduate students who have made significant contribution to research in their first two years in graduate school. This second award is worth $1000 and may be used for specific research expenses only. Both applications are due in September.

AERA Research and Dissertation Grants Program

Educational researchers who are completing their dissertations can apply for Dissertation Grants to support themselves and their living expenses while analyzing data and writing their dissertation. They are particularly interested in studies which focus on analysis of major data sets or focus on STEM policy and practice issues.

UNL Funding

The Office of Graduate Studies supports three fellowships and awards. The Presidential Fellowship is for advanced doctoral or MFA students and provides $24,000 support for one year. The Fling Fellowship is for advanced masters or doctoral students and provides $20,000 worth of support for one year. The Dean’s fellowship is for advanced masters and doctoral students and is for $5,000.

Travel Grants are available through our Office as well to support conference travel as well as for travel directly related you your thesis or dissertation work.

Sometimes there may be Graduate Assistantships outside your department, in other student support offices around campus (e.g. Career Services, OASIS, Big Red Resilience). These will typically be posted on Handshake. Sometimes, you can reach out to these departments to see if they have any openings.

The Graduate Student Association offers travel grants for graduate students to support conference travel.

Help with Fellowship Applications

When writing fellowship applications, you will probably first seek the advice of your advisor or a trusted mentor. However, there are other places to seek for advice. For example, you can submit materials to this website for a “Grant or Proposal Writing” consultation and a consultant will provide detailed feedback on your application.

If you think you might want to apply for any of these positions, start early. It can sometimes take a while to prepare you materials and for them to go through multiple revisions.