Funding International Research and Study Abroad

Creating a Research Action Plan

Spending a semester or year abroad requires careful advance planning. Applications for major fellowships are due a year before your trip would begin – so be familiar with the opportunities and plan as far in advance as you can. Also, proposals for year-long study tend to be more successful if you have already done shorter preliminary research trips, and have your language qualifications complete. Creating a Research Action Plan that lays out your degree requirements along with your research goals and any opportunities that you will apply for in order to meet this goals can be hugely beneficial.


Research Action Plan

Knowing Where to Look

Internal opportunities

External Resources

  • Pivot
  • H-Net
  • Professional or academic organizations, private foundations, cultural institutions, embassies, etc.

Try searching by your target language or country, keywords related to your topic, and the words “scholarship,” “fellowship,” “grant,” “award,” and/or “prize”.

Writing a Successful Proposal

Any successful proposal fully answers the two questions “What now?” and “Why now?” Applications for study or research abroad must also answer the question “Why there?”

  • You must demonstrate the absolute need to undertake your project abroad.
  • You must exhibit and understanding of the resources at home and in the target country, and justify your need to study or work in that particular place over any other.
  • You must also explain the critical timing of your project and how it fits into your career trajectory.

Below are a number of questions that should be answered in an application for work abroad:

  • Where exactly will you be carrying out your research? In what archives, lab, etc.? What materials are will you need to access, and how will you gain access to them?
  • How will you carry out your research? What will your research methods be? Quantitative/qualitative/textual analysis, etc.? How will you make the necessary contacts, etc.?
  • What are your language qualifications, precisely? What courses, examinations, certificates, etc. do you have in the target language?
  • What are your academic qualifications? What coursework or previous research has prepared you to undertake this current project?
  • Is this absolutely the most logical step in your project? Can you go no further without this study?

Getting Good Reference Letters

A recommendation letter for study abroad should address:

  • The student’s intellectual merit and strength of character
  • The significance of the project within the student’s field and beyond
  • The student’s preparedness to undertake the project
  • The feasibility of the project’s completion within the grant terms
  • The necessity to complete this project abroad
  • The student’s ability adapt to a foreign culture and to represent the United States while abroad