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. Note: event attendance or travel solely for the purpose of conference attendance, networking, job interviews, or service learning does not qualify for support.

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


  1. You must be a registered, enrolled, degree-seeking graduate student in good academic standing.
  2. You must be within the first 12 semesters (not to include summer) as an enrolled graduate student.
  3. If you have previously received a GSPDA, you must also provide documentation of an application to an externally funded source. The external application does not have to be successful or related to the opportunity for which you are currently applying. GSDPAs are not limited by amount or number of awards a student can receive.
  4. Please note: some programs have specific eligibility rules for GSPDAs. Please check with your program admin before applying.
  5. NOTE: conference attendance, networking, job interviews, and service learning activities are ineligible.

Required Materials

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

  1. Formal proposal, not to exceed 1,000 words, that adheres to GSPDA guidelines 
  2. Budget documentation that shows references for expected costs
  3. Description of the event, including dates and locations: include a brochure, conference or workshop agenda, and/or other event-related promotional material
  4. Recommendation forms or letters from your advisor and your Director of Graduate Studies are required for all students (except Engineering).
  5. Proof of external grant application, if you have previously received a GSPDA
  6. Completion of the Notre Dame International Travel Registry if traveling abroad is strongly encouraged.

Detailed information for completing these requirements is found in the in the GSPDA drive folder.

Proceed to the GSPDA Application Form 

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 reviewed on a rolling basis 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 workshop tuition or airfare are generally paid in advance while most other funding is received via reimbursement upon submitting a post-travel expense report in TravelND.

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 consultations to help you prepare a successful application for major national and international funding opportunities. Please contact their office directly at to schedule an appointment.