UMass Amherst’s Graduate School Office of Professional Development serves current graduate students and postdocs seeking external funding. We provide advice, tips, and tools to help you search for external funding, frame an application for a particular funder, and develop competitive applications for funding opportunities. Our services include information sessions, writing and peer review workshops, and individual consultations.

commencement_ graduateIn recent years, students who have worked with our office have received American Association of University Women fellowships, Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships, NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, Ford Foundation Fellowships, Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grants, and NSF Dissertation Research Grants, among other prestigious awards.

Our philosophy is to position UMass Amherst graduate students and postdocs for success in their search for external funding  and promote the professional development opportunities inherent in the process of applying for external funding.

Successful grants and fellowships require good ideas AND a polished, organized presentation of those ideas. Writing funding proposals provides the opportunity to learn how to write for different audiences, a critical skill for academics as well as those working in professional positions outside of academia.

In addition, proposal writing is essentially thinking about your research on paper. Developing a funding proposal helps you to clarify your research focus, refine your methods, and develop a better grasp on your literature. This will be an asset as you move forward with your project and, better yet, you have chunks of writing you can likely revise or reframe for other grants, your prospectus, publications, or even your thesis or dissertation.

Writing a funding proposal also helps develop your confidence as a researcher–once you’ve committed your ideas to paper it’s easier to move forward with your research plan or talk about your ideas with others in your field.

Heidi2_OrientationFinally, you get first-hand knowledge of how funding application cycles work. Even though all grants and fellowships utilize different application procedures, going through the process once makes each subsequent application a bit easier to navigate. and whether you plan for a career in academia, industry, non-profits/NGOs, government agencies, or independent research, chances are you will need to apply for funding as part of that work. Develop your skills now when you have the services of our office to support you.

Searching and applying for external funding can be a daunting process. We are here to guide you, answer your questions, and help you develop critical proposal writing skills.

How to Get Started:
Check out our events, review the resources available on this blog, or schedule a consultation. Contact Heidi Bauer-Clapp, the Office of Professional Development’s Assistant Director for External Support, with questions.