Assembling a complete grant

A complete application consists of an application form and one letter of recommendation from a Harvard faculty member. The application form includes a brief description of the conference and the work being presented, as well as a travel itinerary and budget.

Applications can be downloaded and uploaded at the Download & Upload Grant page. Letters of recommendation can be submitted at the Upload a Letter of Recommendation page. Both files must be in PDF format.

If you are a traveling scholar, you must check the box indicating that you authorize the GSC and the Registrar’s Office to charge you the GSC fee.

Read a sample application here. (updated by 9/1/16)

If you have any further questions please email the Vice President ( or Secretary (


Award Criteria

The primary consideration in awarding conference grants is the importance of the conference to the student’s degree or career. An ideal applicant will be presenting dissertation research at a venue where they can receive substantive feedback that will help them to complete or advance their research or to go on the job market. Note that the committee prioritizes the presentation of research over networking and professional connections. Thus, the more substantial the presentation, the better. While the committee takes into account the stage of research a student has reached, there are often good reasons for earlier-stage students to apply, including the development of a dissertation topic, which may come out of research done in the first two to three years.

Secondly, the committee takes into account the significance of the conference. As mentioned above, the venue should be one where the student can improve their research or prepare for the job market. Disciplinary association conferences are of obvious significance, but so are specialized conferences. A conference in another discipline, or one that draws an interdisciplinary audience, may be better to attend than a conference in the student’s own field (for instance, if the research incorporates unfamiliar methods).

Third, applications should demonstrate a strong need for funding. Because we receive many more worthy applications than we can fund, we give priority to applicants who lack other resources. Please list the resources for conference funding that might reasonably be available to you, and explain why they cannot meet your needs. Typical sources of funding include a student’s department, advisor or PI, research institute, external fellowship, GSAS, and the conference or professional association.

Finally, the committee considers the importance of the research being presented at the conference.

Please bear in mind that the committee considers applications from many disciplines. While it is important to describe your research and its importance clearly, avoid overly technical description.

Conferences for academic or professional development (presenting or attending), internships (unpaid and preferably NGO's), networking events (outside Boston), and special courses or skill development (not available at Harvard or MIT) are considered.


Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation should address the criteria listed above, but should spend more time describing the importance of the student’s research. This letter is not meant to demonstrate a student’s overall merit but the quality of the research and its significance, both to their larger academic goals and to their discipline or subfield.



You may submit reimbursement materials as soon as your grant has been awarded. Do not send reimbursement materials with your application.

Reimbursement forms (here) should be submitted, with original receipts, to the Treasurer via email ( or in physical copy at the GSC’s mailbox on the third floor of Dudley House. Electronic receipts may be submitted for purchases made online.

Receipts must be submitted within 60 days of purchase, or 60 days from the date of the conference.

smith_john_gsc_sample_conference_grant_application.pdf300 KB