Professional Development Award Application - Science & Engineering Programs

The Graduate School administers three endowments (Joseph F. Downes Memorial, Notebaert Professional Development and Zahm Research Travel) to help support the professional development of graduate students. The Graduate Student Union’s Conference Presentation Grant also may be used to support students traveling to present their research. Questions about the application for GSU funds should be directed to Laurie Hesch. All other questions should be directed to


Students can submit applications before receiving conference presentation notifications, but prior to travel, awardees must send conference acceptance letters to whichever institutes provide funding.

GSU Conference Presentation grant applications are due by the first of the month prior to the start date of the conference (e.g., if the conference starts in August, the application should be submitted by July 1).

Graduate School Professional Funds deadlines for workshops and conferences:
Applications for Graduate School funding are reviewed following the application cycle deadline.

September 15 Earliest activity start date Oct. 15
January 31 Earliest activity start date Feb. 28
May 15 Earliest activity start date Jun. 15

Graduate School deadlines for research proposals:

March 15 Earliest activity start date Apr. 15
October 15 Earliest activity start date Nov. 15


  1. You must be a registered and enrolled, degree-seeking graduate student in good academic standing.
  2. You must be receiving partial support from your advisor or department for this activity. Students who have received previous awards from the Graduate School are required to also complete external fellowship applications – see Proof of external grant application section below for more information.
  3. Professional Development awards from the Graduate School funds require that you must be within six years of matriculation into the Ph.D. program or within three years of matriculation into the Master’s program.

There is no specific limit to the award amount or the number of awards a student may receive (unless noted above); however, preference will be given to first-time applicants. Priority will also be given to Notebaert Premier Fellows in applications for Notebaert funds.

For GSU Conference Presentation Grant funds, individual funding is not capped, but only a certain amount is available each month to all applicants.

Students should gather all related materials prior to beginning submission of the form, as the form cannot be saved in process. Applications submitted without all required materials will be declined.

Materials Required on All Applications:

  • 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.
  • Budget overview that shows expected costs (see sample).
  • A list of additional funding sources that you have pursued for this activity.
  • A formal proposal, not to exceed 1,000 words, that adheres to the guidelines below.
    • The purpose of the written proposal is to explain the personal academic value of your proposed endeavor to the review committee and gain professional practice justifying formal funding requests from non-experts in your field. The cogency and persuasiveness of the argument made for funding matter. Do not assume that because the proposed endeavor pertains to an approved dissertation topic, its worthiness will be self-evident to a reviewer. Proposals that do not follow the guidelines below will be declined. Please consult these samples for additional guidance.
    • We expect you to discuss in specific detail how this specific endeavor at this specific location impacts you at this point in your career. The Graduate School awards will be scored based on your ability to include all of the points on this checklist, which includes an explanation of the ranking methods used by the Graduate School.
    • Proposal Guidelines:
      • Professional tone without spelling or grammatical errors
      • Content and language appropriate for non-subject matter experts
      • Clear, specific, convincing argument of how this activity advances your academic, research, and professional development interests
      • The introduction should provide a statement of the objectives of the proposed endeavor and the anticipated significance of the work
      • The background section should provide a brief review of your previous research or experience pertinent to the proposal
      • A clear statement of your goals must be provided. What will be the outcome of this endeavor? Do you expect it to contribute to an article or dissertation chapter? Do you expect to present research findings at a conference? If so, which one and when? Do you intend to submit your work for publication in a journal? Are you planning to apply this experience towards a major external fellowship or grant application?
      • Include an explanation about other funding sources to which you plan to apply or have applied, and the decision or expected decision date

Materials Required if applying for the GSU’s Conference Presentation Grant:

  • Confirmation that you have been selected to present at the conference or event. If you have not received confirmation yet, please upload a statement explaining when you expect to be notified. Prior to travel, awardees must send conference acceptance letters to GSU.

Materials Required if applying for the Graduate School Professional Development Awards:

  • Previous awards received from the Graduate School. Please have the name, date of award and the amount for each award received.
  • Proof of external grant application
    • For each previous award you have received from the Graduate School, you must have applied (or demonstrate a pending application) for a grant from a funding agency outside of Notre Dame in order to be eligible for a subsequent award from the Graduate School. Any external grant application, aside from a grant issued by event organizers (e.g., conference travel grants, tuition waivers), will fulfill this requirement. The external application does not have to be specific to the proposal for which you currently are requesting funding from the Graduate School. If you have not yet applied for another external grant, indicate the specific grant or fellowship to which you will apply and the date of the application deadline.
  • External fellowships can be found in the databases on the Graduate School’s Research webpage, at Graduate School Professional Development: Research. For assistance in using external systems, or for help in preparing your application for these fellowships, please schedule an appointment with the consultants in the Office of Grants and Fellowships. NOTE: In some instances, a student can have participated in a significant grant application submitted by a faculty member. The role of the student should be specified in this case.
  • If you cannot locate an external grant pertinent to your field of study, you must meet with a consultant in the Office of Grants and Fellowships prior to submitting an application for the Graduate School Professional Development Awards.
  • Documentation showing proof for the estimated cost of each budget item – these should be prepared and saved individually (see sample containing examples of various types of budget items).

Please note: several uploads for supporting information are required to fill out this form. Please be aware that there is a 2MB cap on each upload. Your file sizes must be smaller than 2MB or the uploads will not be accepted. If you have questions or problems with the upload, please email Sarah Baechle.

Additionally, there are a number of file types that are not supported with the application form. To ensure that your application goes through without any problem, please use only .PDF, .DOC/.DOCX, or .JPG files.

File names ending with .html, .exe, .dll, .php, .php3 or .phps may not be uploaded.

Proceed to the Application Form