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 (GSRA) 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 (GSG, ISLA, and the student's academic program).

March 21, 2022

TRAVEL UPDATE: per the COVID travel policy, University-sponsored domestic travel no longer requires advance approval. However, students who intend to travel internationally and receive university reimbursement must secure approval from their dean or associate dean for research/graduate studies in advance and should be prepared to submit this with any reimbursement requests. Without documented approval, the Graduate School cannot provide travel reimbursement.


  1. At the time of the proposed event/opportunity, must be degree-seeking graduate students registered, enrolled, and in good academic standing within the first 12 semesters (excluding summer). Keough MGA and professional Master's programs are ineligible.
  2. Check with your program admin before applying. A few programs have specific GSPDA eligibility rules (e.g. Chemistry).
  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.
  5. If funded, international students are subject to higher tax withholding from university award payments.

Required Materials

  1. Formal proposal, not to exceed 1,000 words. Guidelines are embedded in the application form.
  2. Budget documentation that references and justifies expected costs
  3. Conference, workshop, or host institution acceptance notification, including event dates and location
  4. A&L students: recommendation letters from your advisor and Director of Graduate Studies; Science and Engineering students: references not required
  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. The application is available via InsideND. Search Submittable.


Application Timeline

Students should submit a GSPDA funding application preferably 3 or more months prior to their event, or official notification of acceptance 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 lodging deposit, conference fees, or course/workshop tuition are generally pre-paid and 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 GSG, 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.