News from the Research Commons

January 23, 2017

Q&A: Graduate Funding


I’d really like to attend one of the major conferences in my field this year.  However, none of them are in Seattle, so I’d have to pay for a plane ticket and hotel room,  and they all charge expensive registration fees.  How can I find funding that will help me afford to go? 


The University of Washington offers graduate students two major sources of funding for travel to conferences at which they will present or speak:

  • The Graduate & Professional Student Senate Travel Grants award up to $300 for domestic conference travel or up to $500 for international conference travel.  Students may only receive these awards once every three years, with a maximum of two awards throughout their UW career.  Applications for these grants are made directly by the student – make sure to carefully review the application instructions and deadlines at the link above.
  • The Graduate School Fund for Excellence & Innovation also awards up to $300 for domestic conference travel or up to $500 for international conference travel.  Students may receive this award only once every other year, and priority is given to students who have not previously received the award.  Students cannot apply directly for these grants – an application must be made by your department on your behalf, and each department may have internal policies and procedures governing when and for whom they will request an award.

Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to apply for similar conference travel awards from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, which offer $300 for regional travel or $600 for national or international travel.

If you are planning to attend a conference but are not a presenter or invited speaker, locating funding opportunities will require a more extensive search.  Many UW departments and graduate programs have funding options for their students that sponsor conference attendance without regard to whether you are presenting, so begin your search by checking with your department.  Next, look into whether the conference itself offers scholarships for which students can apply or waivers of conference fees for first-time attendees.  Some conferences may even permit students to attend free of charge in exchange for a commitment to volunteer during the event.

You can also search more broadly for external (non-UW) awards that pay conference fees and travel costs through thefunding databases recommended in the GFIS guide.  Most funding databases include a category dedicated to conference-related awards – for instance, Grant Forward, a large, subscription database available to the UW community, allows you to target this type of award by filtering your results by “Type” for “Workshop/Conference.”  Examples of the conference-related opportunities you might find in these databases include awards related to specific events, such as this award for students to attend the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference, this award for travel to the National Council on Public History conference, or this award for students to attend the American Statistical Association conference , and grants that can be used more broadly to support professional development, such as this award from the Institute for Humane Studies, which provides doctoral students with a set amount for use toward conference attendance, manuscript submission, or career-related travel.

-From Rochelle Lundy, Graduate Funding Information Service