Research & Travel Funding

Conference Travel Fellowships

Conference travel fellowships are available through the Graduate School for students who have passed their preliminary examination. These fellowships will reimburse students for travel, lodging and food expenses, up to a maximum of $750  for conferences in which a student is actively participating (i.e. presenting a paper or poster or leading a discussion). Please note the application is due 35 days prior to the conference. Please visit The Graduate School's Conference Travel webpage for more information.

External Funding Supplements

In order to provide incentives for Ph.D. students to seek and secure funding from outside the department and to share the concomitant cost savings associated with such funding, the following supplement plan has been approved by the faculty.

  1. Doctoral students who are awarded an external fellowship replacing a stipend in years 1 - 5 of the program will receive a supplement of $5,000 for each year of the fellowship. If the fellowship also covers tuition and fees, then the student will receive a supplement of $7,000 for each year.
  2. Fellowships issued by The Graduate School as well as the Social Science Research Institute’s PARISS Fellowship are not considered external fellowships and recipients are not eligible for supplemental payments from the department.
  3. If an external fellowship award is less than what the student would have received in departmental support, then the department will pay the student the difference and provide a supplement scaled down to the fraction of funding covered by the fellowship. The student will be required to work an amount commensurate with the fraction of support provided by the department.
  4. Only students with funding commitments from the department are eligible for supplemental payments.
  5. Supplements will be paid in two equal installments in the months of September and January.
  6. Students who are funded through a research grant obtained by a faculty member will not receive a supplement from the department. Exceptions to this provision may be made in the case of grants that do not permit the student to apply for a Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship. In this case, the director of graduate studies (DGS) may elect to provide a summer supplement of up to $4,000.
  7. Doctoral students who receive fellowships or are funded under faculty grants during the first five years of the program are not automatically eligible for stipend support from the department in their sixth year or beyond. Students who receive funding to spend time away from Duke doing field work or collecting data may be awarded a sixth year of stipend support at the discretion of the DGS.

External Funding Tips

Duke's Office of Research Support (ORS) also provides several essential services to the Duke University community, including a list of funding search tools, monthly Finding Funding Workshops, and proposal preparation. Students may also meet with the department's Grants Office staff for tips on navigating through the proposal process.

  • Find Your Topic: Read the research in your field; talk to your advisor, colleagues, and peers; follow your passion. 
  • Find a Funding Opportunity
    • Check with the big funders, like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
      • The NSF has a a mechanism called FastLane, which helps researchers prepare and submit their proposals. You will need a FastLane ID to submit a proposal. Economics Grants Office staff can help you get a FastLane ID.
    • Locate potential sources of funding in the External Funding Database or via the ORS database.
  • Proposal Goals & Deadlines
    • Meet with your advisor to discuss the topic. Advisor agrees to be the PI or co-PI on the proposal.
    • Meet with Grants Office staff ​to set timeline.
      • Go over the program announcement. Determine who is responsible for what.
      • Find out what forms and what type of budget will be needed.
  • Proposal Writing
    • ​Make sure you follow the rules. The sponsor has put a lot of effort into making guidelines and rules for the proposal. If you do not follow the rules, then the sponsor has every right to return the proposal WITHOUT REVIEW. 
    • Proposal Parts
      • The project summary should be one page; written in the third person; and address these two issues: intellectual merit of the proposed activity and broader impacts resulting from the proposed activity.
        • The broader impacts comprise five main components:
          • Advance discover and promote learning.*
          • Broaden participation of under-represented groups.*
            *PIs tend to over- or  under-reach with regard to these components. Be realistic.
          • Enhance infrastructure for research and education.
          • Disseminate research results.
          • Explain societal benefit.
      • The project description should be 15 pages. It must address the research plan, the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and the broader impacts, as well as data management and the distribution of the research/information. Note: There are additional requirements if you have previously submitted this proposal or have prior NSF funding.The data management plan should be two pages. It explains systems to protect data and how results/information will be distributed. The data use agreement is the agreement with a contractor/vendor in order to receive data. If data isn't being used, then simply state "No data management plan." 
      • There is no page limit for references sited. You must include bibliographic citations only. This section cannot be used to meet the 15-page project description requirement.
      • The biographical sketch(es) should be two pages. This is required for all senior project personnel. It must be provided in the order and format the funding agency requires ("suggested" or "encouraged" usually means that is what the funding agency wants). 
      • There is no page limit for current and pending support. This is required for all senior project personnel.
      • Check with Grants Office staff for help with the facilities, equipment, and other resources section. There may be special requirements for proposals with subcontracts, and some proposal announcements may give specific instructions regarding what they expect to see.
      • Any research that involves people — including secondary data — will need Internal Review Board (IRB) approval. You do not need IRB approval before you submit your proposal, but you will need to know if your research involves human subjects in some way.
      • The budget justification should be three pages. 
        • Read the program announcement to see of there are any budget restrictions. Each funding agency will have its own guidelines. NIH has a salary cap; NSF includes facilities & administrative (F&A) costs in the total. Duke uses modified total direct costs (MTDC) for the base when calculating how much F&A are charged to a grant. MTDC does not include tuition expenses or equipment over $5,000. Check the program announcement to see if there are any limits to the F&A aid to the institution for the type of award.