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Summer Funding

It is important to begin looking for summer funding opportunities 9–12 months in advance of submission deadlines. There are several productive ways to identify sources of funding for research and writing:

  • First, ask your peers, advisor, and other professors in your department.
  • Second, consult journal articles and scholarly books in your discipline, which often include an acknowledgment of the source(s) of funding that supported the associated research.
  • Third, use a grants database to identify funding sources that match your status and needs. All Vanderbilt students, using their Vanderbilt e-mail address, have free access to Pivot (, a searchable grants database that contains thousands of external funding opportunities, including short-term funding for summer research and writing according to your specific discipline and topic.

Because the time frame available to work over the summer months is relatively short, it is particularly important to: (1) include in your proposal a clearly defined methodology/work plan and schedule; (2) demonstrate that your plan is realistic and feasible, with a defined product or stated goals; and (3) describe how the proposed work fits into your broader research and writing project(s).

Below are a few illustrative examples of summer funding opportunities, by donor category:

Professional societies:

         American Historical Association:  You must be a member to apply, and preference is given to advanced doctoral students with “specific research needs such as the completion of a project or discrete segment thereof.” The deadline is usually mid-February.

 American Philosophical Association:  APA offers a variety of fellowship awards with varying deadlines.

  Libraries and archives:

          Huntington Library:  This independent research library offers fellowshipsto consult its significant holdings in British and American history, British and American literature, art history, the history of science and medicine, and the history of the book. The deadline is typically in mid-November.

          Newberry Library:  The Newberry offers short-term fellowships of 1–2 months for consultation of its extensive humanities collections.

  Private foundations or institutions:

Explorers Club  The Explorers Club Explorers Fund Grant provides grants in support of exploration and field research for those who are just beginning their research careers. The deadline is usually mid-October.        

National Geographic Society Explorers Grants “offer opportunities to individuals ages 18 to 25 to pursue research, conservation, and exploration-related projects consistent with National Geographic's existing grant programs.” Pre-applications are accepted throughout the year and should be submitted eight months before the planned field dates.

Sigma Xi   This scientific research society provides grants of up to $1,000 to students from all areas of the sciences and engineering. Deadlines are in March and October.

  State entities:

            Tennessee State Arts Commission:    Individual applicants must be at least 18 years of age and be legal residents of Tennessee at the time of application with a Tennessee mailing address. First-time applicants must contact the Commission before submitting an application. Deadlines vary.

U.S. Government entities:

U.S. Department of Education: Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS)  These grants are awarded to institutions, which conduct internal competitions (at Vanderbilt, for example, through the Center for Latin American Studies, , for Portuguese and indigenous Latin American language and area studies

 N.B.:  U.S. Government research grant and fellowship programs for graduate students typically fund longer-term research of between six and twelve months.