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 (digital or in-person) access fees, special equipment and software, and other expenditures associated with research. Music Composition and Theory students can use funds to cover travel for/work with an ensemble or performer who is executing the student’s composition. The grant does not fund your local, Boston-area living expenses, desktop or laptop computers, printers, or transcription services. 

Applications are now closed. Please check back in 2019 for more information.

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Eligibility Requirements

 1. Awards are restricted to doctoral candidates in the following programs: Anthropology, English, History, Music Composition and Theory, Musicology, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Politics, and Sociology.

2. If you have received a Mellon and/or 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.

3. PhD candidates who have received a Dissertation Year Fellowship are ineligible for this award.

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Award Conditions

1. Funding is intended to defray the costs of research-related travel expenses (airfare, train fare, lodging, food, etc.), archive/library (digital or in-person) access fees, special equipment and software, and other expenditures associated with research. Music Composition and Theory students are can use funds to cover travel for / work with an ensemble or performer who is executing the student’s composition. The grant does not fund your local, Boston-area living expenses, desktop or laptop computers, printers, or transcription services.  

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

3. Recipients will be asked to submit a grant “update” in September of the upcoming academic year that lists the working title of their dissertation and includes a concise statement that very briefly describes their research project and summarizes how they used or plan to use the funds.

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Application Instructions

There are three separate parts to the application. The first part is the completion of the online application form. The second part is the submission of your supporting documentation. The third part is clear communication with your advisor so know where to submit their letter of recommendation. All three parts must be completed before the deadline.

Part I: Complete the online application form via Qualtrics.

The application for the Mellon Dissertation Research Grant Application will be available online.

This application informs us of your intent to apply for the grant.

Part II: Submit all four supporting documents (described below) in one email to the email address that will be indicated on this page. Title each file with your name and the type of supporting document (e.g., Last, First-ProjectBudget). Please note the separate instructions for Music Composition and Theory dissertation descriptions.

1. Curriculum Vitae: Include publications, conference papers, awards, and distinctions.

2. Dissertation Description: Maximum three double-spaced pages of clear, academic prose. Avoid jargon; keep in mind that the selection committee comprises faculty from many disciplines. Include:

  • Executive Summary: A succinct overview of the dissertation, including the problems it 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. Include the texts, documents, and other sources you will use to write your dissertation.

Music Composition and Theory Dissertation Descriptions 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 

3. Purpose of Research Grant: Maximum one double-spaced page. Explain precisely how you intend to use the grant and how it would enable you to advance your dissertation research.

4. Project Budget: Use this form to list your anticipated project expenses. 

Part III: Advisor Submits a Recommendation Letter

Please ensure that your advisor is aware of your application for a Mellon Dissertation Research Grant. Request your letter of application well in advance of the application deadline (March 5, 2018) in order to give your advisor plenty of time to write and submit the recommendation by the deadline. We strongly advise that you show your advisor drafts of your application’s supporting documents.

Note to advisors: Please submit a letter of recommendation for the applicant by sending it in pdf format to the email address that will be indicated on this page by the application deadline. The letter will remain confidential and will only be seen by those specifically designated as part of the selection process.

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Selection Process

The selection committee comprises select graduate faculty and the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. You should be notified of the selection committee’s decision in April.