Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Dissertation Research Grants Program

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Who is eligible to apply?
Applicants must be doctoral students who have completed all program requirements except the dissertation. Before funds are released (not necessary at the time of application), an applicant whose proposal is selected for a grant must have their dissertation supervisor document that the dissertation research (a) is the same research that was described in the DRG grant application and (b) has been approved by the dissertation committee. If your discipline, department, or institution does not use this process to approve dissertation proposals, please email to see if you or your project is at the appropriate stage for RSF support. These grants will support all aspects of dissertation research (data collection, data preparation, data analysis, and writing), but they are not intended for students who have completed data collection and propose to spend the entire grant period finishing the dissertation.

There is a lifetime limit of one dissertation research grant per applicant. RSF encourages applications from scholars who are traditionally underrepresented in the social sciences and its application pool, as we seek to promote diversity broadly, including (but not limited to), racial, ethnic, gender or sexual identity or orientation, first generation, disciplinary, institutional, and geographic.

Eligibility is limited to students at institutions based in the United States

What do we support?
Projects must contribute to RSF’s mission to improve social and living conditions in the U.S. and demonstrate appropriate use of relevant theory, data, research methods, and measures in the proposal. All projects must address issues that are relevant to at least one of RSF’s priority areas: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality Behavioral Science in Context;Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity and Immigration; and Immigration and Immigrant Integration. Proposals that focus on employment-related topics will be considered for an RSF-Upjohn grant.

Does RSF fund projects on topics related to social and living conditions in other countries?
No. In line with the RSF’s mandate, all projects must focus on the U.S. In exceptional cases, RSF may consider projects analyzing data collected outside the U.S. (e.g., experimental data, survey data, etc.) if the researcher can demonstrate that the data needed for the project is not available or obtainable in the U.S., and that the analysis has strong relevance to improving social and living conditions in the United States.

Do I have to submit a letter of inquiry before applying?
No, dissertation research grant applications do not require an initial letter of inquiry.

Are there deadlines for applying?
Yes. There is one deadline each year. Please see our deadline page Upcoming Deadlines for the most up-to-date information.

What should my application include?
Applications must be submitted via the RSF online application portal, Fluxx.

  1. Create an account or log in to your existing account.
    **Allow up to 5 business days for a new account to be approved**
  2. Start a new “Dissertation Research Grants” application and select the appropriate program option.
  3. Submit these documents:
    • A concise single-spaced (5 pages maximum) proposal describing the research;
    • An up-to-date abbreviated CV (maximum of 5 pages);

Conditional on positive external reviews, applicants will be invited to submit: 

  1. A letter of recommendation from the dissertation supervisor
    • The supervisor must document that the dissertation research (a) is the same research that was described in the DRG proposal and (b) has been approved by the dissertation committee.
  2. A detailed Excel budget, using the RSF budget template;
  3. A budget narrative that explains what RSF funds would cover;
    • The budget narrative must also include a timeline that includes the dissertation activities for which funds will be requested and when the dissertation is expected to be completed.
  4. An organization confirmation letter from the applicant’s home institution stating that it will manage the project funds (to be submitted with signed grant documents if an grant is made).

How long should my proposal be?
The maximum length for the text of a dissertation research grant proposal is five single-spaced pages, excluding the bibliography (with standard 12-point font, and 1-inch margins). The budget and budget narrative are separate documents.

What should my proposal substantively include?
Proposals should outline the rationale of the research, clearly state the question(s) under study and provide as much detail as possible about the data, research methods, and analytic approach to be employed. The proposal should very briefly discuss its relevance to RSF’s programs and how it would contribute to its mission to improve social and living conditions in the U.S.

What are the budget restrictions?
Applicants may receive no more than one dissertation research grant of up to $10,000. RSF does not allow indirect costs on any grant up to $50,000 and restricts the project period for dissertation research grants to one year.

Representative categories of expenditure that should be described in the budget narrative include:

  • Applicant stipend up to $5,000
  • Research assistance
  • Subject payments
  • Data acquisition, such as data access fees or the purchase of data sets
  • Transcription costs
  • Laboratory costs
  • Travel (for data collection or access only)
    • Conference travel when the applicant is presenting a paper or poster will be considered on a case-by-case basis if the applicant certifies that such funding is not available from the home institution or other sources.
  • Other research expenses will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

A budget that appears excessive will be grounds for rejection. Budget line items that are not justified will be cut from the budget. Tuition remission for graduate or undergraduate students is not allowed and RSF does not generally approve the purchase of personal computers. For detailed information regarding the budget, as well as the budget template, see the RSF Budget Guidelines at: The guidelines listed here for the dissertation research grants program override any conflicting guidelines listed on the general budget webpage.

How long does the application review take?
Completed applications will be reviewed, and decisions announced within approximately three months of the application deadline.

Why did I not receive any reviewer feedback on my application?
Applications that are sent out for external review will receive reviewer comments on their application whether funded or not. Applications that do not make it past the initial internal screen will not receive comments. The most common reasons for applications being declined at the initial screen are that the application: (1) is not perceived to be well-aligned with the Foundation’s funding priorities; (2) lacks sufficient detail on the research design, data, and methods to allow reviewers to assess the viability of the project; or (3) is poorly framed or written.

If my application gets rejected, can I revise and resubmit?
No, applicants are not allowed to submit a revised proposal during the current funding round. An applicant may revise an application and submit during a subsequent funding round. The proposal will be processed as a new application.

Do I have to use the online application system?
Yes. If you have any questions or problems with Fluxx, please contact

Is there a time limit in which I must submit my proposal once I start an application online?
Yes. Any application started before, but not submitted by the deadline will be considered withdrawn and deleted from the online system.

Who do I contact if I have questions?
If there are questions about the application, budget, or process in general, email us at and one of our program staff will respond.