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Mellon Dissertation Research Grants

The Mellon Foundation has provided funding to enable students to conduct dissertation research (including preliminary, exploratory research). The typical grant is $3,000, but may be adjusted upwards and downwards to accommodate an individual student’s needs. Funding will help cover research-related travel expenses (airfare, train fare, lodging, food, etc.), archive/library admission fees, special equipment and software, and other expenditures associated with research. The grant does not fund your local, Boston-area living expenses, desktop or laptop computers, printers, or transcription services. Approximately 30 grants will be made. The next application cycle will open on January 7, 2015 and the application deadline is March 6, 2015.  NOTE: THE ONLINE APPLICATION SYSTEM WILL BE DOWN FOR MAINTENANCE FROM MARCH 6 AT 5 PM UNTIL MARCH 7 AT NOON. THE APPLICATION MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE DURING THIS TIME. THEREFORE, THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO MARCH 8TH, MIDNIGHT. PLEASE PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

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Eligibility Requirements

1. Awards are restricted to doctoral candidates in the following programs: Anthropology, English Literature, History (Comparative and American), Musicology, Music Composition, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (Bible, Modern Jewish Studies, Middle East), Politics, and Sociology.

2.If you have received a Mellon/Sachar dissertation research grant in the past, you may apply to receive another grant this year. However, funding priority will be given to students who have not previously received a grant.

Award Conditions

1. Funding is intended to defray the costs of research-related travel (airfare, train fare, lodging, food, etc.), archive admission fees, special equipment and software, and other expenditures associated with research. The grant does not fund your local, Boston-area living expenses, desktop or laptop computers, printers, or transcription services.

2. Recipients (who have not already done so) are strongly encouraged to participate in the Mellon Prospectus Seminar (a noncredit, year-long graduate course).

3. Recipients will be asked to submit a grant “update” by September 17, 2015 that lists the working title of their dissertation and includes a concise, jargon-free statement (not more than a few sentences) that very briefly describes their research project and summarizes how they used or still plan to use the funds.

Application Instructions

All students must complete the application online. If you've never accessed GSAS's online fellowships application system, you'll need to select "create a new account" from the application system login page.  Once you have created your account and entered the system, select “Mellon Dissertation Research Grants” from the application page to begin your application. Your application does not have to be completed in one sitting; you may save it at any time and log back into the system to continue your work. Click here to access the login page and online application. Note: Even though a link to the online application system has been provided, the application will not be available until January 7, 2015.

Supporting Documents You’ll Need to Upload to Your Application:

1. Grant Proposal that includes your (I) Dissertation Description and (II) the Purpose of Research Grant (maximum of 4 double-spaced pages total). 
Part I: Dissertation Description (maximum of 3 double-spaced pages): It is essential that your description be in clear, academic prose. Please avoid jargon—the selection committee consists of faculty from many disciplines and will expect to read cogent, lucid prose. Music Composition students should see the separate instructions below to prepare their description. The description for all other applicants should include the following sections:

  • Executive Summary (succinct overview of dissertation, including the problems the dissertation will address).
  • Existing scholarship: the main focus of previous research, with examples of substantive contributions and a clear statement on the shortcomings of existing scholarship.
  • Focus and Methodology: how you intend to address the issues discussed in the summary and how this will contribute to scholarship in the field. Please include the texts, documents, and other sources you will use to write your dissertation.

Music Composition Description should:

  • Outline your analytical essay. 
  • Present a detailed grasp of the piece(s) to be analyzed. 
  • Indicate your intentions for the composition regarding instrumentation, text (if any), and number of movements. 

Part II: Purpose of Research Grant (1 double-spaced page): Explain precisely how you intend to use the grant and how it would enable you to advance your dissertation research.

2. Project Budget: Please use this form to list all your projected expenses for your project. 

Advisor Recommendation Letter

Please provide your advisor with your Mellon Dissertation Research Grant proposal well in advance of the March 6th deadline. In the online application, you will be able to request a letter of recommendation electronically.

Selection Process

The selection committee is composed of selected graduate program chairs and the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and you will be notified of its decision during the first week in April.

Apply Online!

The 2015-16 online application will be available beginning January 7, 2015. You will first need to login or create an account in the online application system to access the application.