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Funding for Graduate and Professional Students: Getting Started

A compilation of grant sources for graduate & professional students.

Why Do Graduate & Professional Students Need Grants?

Grant funding can assist in:

  • Completing research for a thesis, dissertation, or research fellowship
  • Collecting or purchasing data
  • Conducting field work
  • Providing stipends, salary, or travel funds

Writing proposals for grant funding provides:

  • Experience writing academic proposals
  • Opportunities to build a professional network
  • Credentials for the curriculum vitae
  • Opportunities to strengthen your scholarly reading, writing, and research habits

Best Practices for Grant Researching

There is no right or wrong way to research grant funding, but these tips might make the process more efficient. 

  1. Create a Grant Library: Develop a system to keep track of everything (contact information, dates, specific qualifications/requirements, etc.), and find a resource that will work for you such as an Excel spreadsheet, Google Doc, or a project management tool.
  2. Develop a Peer/Colleague Network: Reach out to fellow researchers you know. Ask them what they consider to be good sources of  funding, and how to get started with an application.
  3. Know your Needs: Identify agencies and organizations which meet your research needs, know how much funding you need, and how to apply then formulate a plan of action.
  4. Cast a Wide Net: While government sources such as NIH and NSF are good resources due to the depth of information they provide,  small organizations can supplement with funds, too.
  5. Keep on Applying!: A grant review life cycle takes an average of 6-8 months so after submitting one application, begin to prepare another one. Use your due diligence when searching and applying.

Databases Available to the VU community

The databases listed below provide a multidisciplinary starting point for your funding search. They are searchable by discipline or research topic.

Whenever a keyword or free text search option is available, consider including keywords like "dissertation" or "graduate students" to help narrow your search.

"Vanderbilt subscription" indicates that if you are off-campus, you will be prompted for your VUNet ID and password in order to use these databases.

Leslie Foutch

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Leslie Foutch
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