Graduate School Professional Development Awards (GSPDA)

The Graduate School Professional Development Awards (GSPDA) derive from three endowments (Joseph F. Downes Memorial, Notebaert Professional Development, and Zahm Research Travel), to help support the professional development of graduate students. GSPDA funding is available for conference travel, workshops, seminars, research at other institutions, and other activities related to your development as a scholar and professional. There is no specific limit to the amount of GSPDA funding or the number of awards you can receive during your time as a graduate student.

Application Timeline

Students can submit applications for GSPDA funding at any time before their proposed event, including before receiving official notification that they've been accepted to present at a conference or participate in a workshop. However, prior to travel, awardees must send these acceptance letters to the Graduate School Professional Development Team via email ( 

Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis beginning on the 1st of each month, excepting January, June and July (applications received during these months will be reviewed in the next cycle). Notifications will be sent by the middle of the month. In some cases, you may be eligible to receive some or all of your award funding prior to your event. Expenses like workshop tuition or airfare can generally be paid in advance, while most other expenses are paid by reimbursement after your event.


  1. You must be a registered and enrolled, degree-seeking graduate student in good academic standing.
  2. You must be within your first 12 semesters (not including summer sessions) enrolled as a graduate student.
  3. If you have previously received a GSPDA from one of the endowments mentioned above, you must provide documentation of an application for funding to an external source. Please note that the external application does not have to be successful or related to the opportunity for which you are currently applying.
  4. Please note that some departments have their own specific eligibility rules for this award, so check with your program before applying.

Required Materials

GSPDA Process Overview 123k jpg Professional Development Awards Process Overview (Click for larger version)

  1. A formal proposal, not to exceed 1,000 words, that adheres to GSPDA guidelines 
  2. Budget documentation that shows references for expected costs
  3. A description of the event, including dates and locations. If possible, applicants should also submit a brochure, print-out or other promotional material for the activity. NOTE: Travel solely for the purposes of networking, job interviews or conference attendance is ineligible
  4. GSPDA Student Activity Report from Academic iNDex, showing your award, presentation, and professional development training activities. (Read more about Academic iNDex here)
  5. Proof of external grant application, if you have previously received an award from the Graduate School

Detailed information on completing each of these requirements can be found in the in the GSPDA drive folder.

Proceed to the GSPDA Application Form 

Other Funding Sources

Please note that there are both internal and external funding sources available for graduate students.

Internal Funding Sources

The GSPDA is the internal funding source stewarded by the Graduate School, but graduate students are also invited to apply for other internal funding opportunities, such as those provided by the GSU, ISLA, the Kellogg Institute, and more. View the full list here

External Funding Sources

The Office of Grants and Fellowships can help students learn about external funding sources and prepare successful application. Please contact their office directly at to schedule a personalized consultation and learn more about available opportunities.