Graduate School Professional Development Awards (GSPDA)

The Graduate School Professional Development Awards (GSPDA) support the academic and research training of graduate students. Awards are funded by three endowments: the Notebaert Professional Development Fund, the Joseph F. Downes Memorial Fund, and the Zahm Research Travel Fund. Funding is available for expenses related to conference presentations, participation in workshops or seminars, research at other institutions, and other training activities in support of your scholarly and professional development. Graduate students in the College of Arts and Letters should apply for an ISLA Graduate Student Research Award to support dissertation research travel or artistic projects (MFA students).

GSPDA funding has no limit to the amount or number of awards per student. However, you are encouraged to apply to multiple sources, including other campus partners (GSU, ISLA, and the student's academic program).


8/25: GSPDA applications will once again be reviewed in the usual manner, restricted to online or remote opportunities. Please note that the fluidity of the current campus situation means the dispersal of these funds may be disrupted or discontinued if needed. Please consult for the latest information.


  1. Degree-seeking graduate students who are registered, enrolled, and in good academic standing, within the first 12 semesters (excluding summer)
  2. Check with your program admin before applying. A few programs (e.g. Chemistry) have specific GSPDA eligibility rules.
  3.  If you are a previous GSPDA recipient, a CV listing any/all of your professional development activities is required. (Details below.)
  4. NOTE: travel to events solely for the purpose of conference attendance, networking, job interviews, or service learning is ineligible.

Required Materials

  1. Formal proposal, not to exceed 1,000 words. See below GSPDA drive folder link for guidelines.
  2. Budget documentation that references and justifies expected costs
  3. Conference, workshop, or host institution acceptance notification, including event dates and location
  4. Recommendation form or letter from your advisor (required) and your Director of Graduate Studies (preferred) for all students (except Engineering).
  5. Previous GSPDA recipients, attach a CV including a list of professional development activities and/or internal/external funding applications: past, present, or pending; whether successful or not; related or unrelated to the GSPDA opportunity you are currently pursuing.
  6. IRB approval documentation, if your research involves human subjects
  7. If traveling abroad, completion of the Notre Dame International Travel Registry is strongly encouraged for your safety.
  8. Detailed instructions are found in the in the GSPDA drive folder. (*only ND Gmail accounts can access*)

Proceed to the GSPDA Application Form: Student Grant Network (SGN) (works best on campus; requires VPN connection off campus)

Application Timeline

Students may submit a GSPDA funding application any time before their proposed event, even before official notification that they are accepted as a conference presenter or workshop participant. Prior to travel, awardees must email acceptance letters to the Graduate School Professional Development Team ( 

Applications are due at 11:59 p.m. the last day of the month and are reviewed beginning the 1st of each month, except January, June and July. Any applications received during these months will be reviewed the next cycle. Decision letters will be sent mid-month. In some cases, you may be eligible to receive some or all of your award funding prior to the event.

  • Expenses such as airfare (booked via Anthony Travel), lodging deposit, conference fees, or course/workshop tuition are generally pre-paid; the latter three may be reimbursed pre-travel with receipts. The majority of travel expenses are reimbursed post-event via a TravelND expense report.

Other Funding Sources

Graduate student professional development funding may be available from other sources.

Internal Funding Sources

Students are also encouraged to apply to other internal funding partners such as the GSU, ISLA, Kellogg Institute, and more. View the full list.

External Funding Sources

The Office of Grants and Fellowships offers one-on-one tailored consultations to help you prepare a successful application for GSPDAs and major national and international funding opportunities. Please contact their office directly ( to schedule an appointment.