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Professional Development Fund

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Established through the generous donations of alumni and other benefactors, the Harvard Griffin GSAS Professional Development Fund supports PhD students seeking to obtain the competencies and skills necessary to be successful in their chosen professions.

If noted in the Notice of Financial Support provided at the time of admission, PhD students who entered Harvard Griffin GSAS between fall 2015 and fall 2019 and who are in their third year of study or beyond may be eligible to apply for up to $2,500 from the Harvard Griffin GSAS Professional Development Fund. Please note: As with all other stipends, the Professional Development Fund is considered taxable income. For more information, please consult the Taxes section of the Harvard Griffin GSAS website.

Before applying, students should review the list of approved professional development expenditures developed by their program and discuss their professional development plans with faculty advisors or directors of graduate studies. Please note that these funds are not intended to be used for activities supported by existing departmental resources, to fund dissertation research travel, or to purchase equipment (e.g. computers).

Students must complete a final report within 60 days of completing the professional development activity.

Student Eligibility

  • Eligibility will be noted in the Notice of Financial Support provided at the time of admission.
  • Students must have entered a Harvard Griffin GSAS PhD program between fall 2015 and fall 2019, be in their *third year or beyond, and be deemed eligible by their directors of graduate studies.
  • Students must be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Students must submit a funding proposal using the application instructions below.
  • Students may not receive Professional Development funding after completing the Dissertation Completion Fellowship.
  • Students may not receive Professional Development funding after their official graduation date, and approved activities must take place before graduation.

*The fund will be available for expenses incurred after September 1 of the third year.  Expenses from prior academic years are ordinarily not eligible for the fund.

Eligible Professional Development Activities

The fund is designed to support access to workshops, conferences, courses, and other activities and resources that help students develop new competencies and skills, for example: 

  • writing and communicating ideas
  • leadership and management
  • teaching and mentoring
  • career exploration and preparation
  • data analysis and digital skills development.

Activities or expenditures that are inconsistent with these guidelines will be ineligible for funding. Among the ineligible expenses are:

  • equipment/computers
  • books
  • software
  • research expenditures
  • publication costs
  • editing services
  • job interview expenses.

Award Amounts

Students can request any amount from a minimum of $300 up to a maximum of $2,500. Once the request is approved, the Office of Financial Aid will provide an award notification and disburse the award via a single stipend payment.

The entire amount does not have to be requested all at once; students may request smaller amounts multiple times until they reach a cumulative total of $2,500.

Application Periods

Students may apply for the Professional Development Fund during the following application periods:

  • July 1 through August 31 (for October 1 fund disbursement)
  • October 1 through December 20 (for February 1 fund disbursement)
  • February 1 through April 30 (for June 1 fund disbursement).

How to Apply

Note to applicants: Starting with the fall 2019 application cycle, you no longer need to provide a faculty endorsement form.

  1. Log in to the Centralized Application for Research and Travel (CARAT)* using your Harvard Key.
  2. Click Apply! at the top of the page, which goes to the Browse Opportunities and Apply! page.
  3. Click on the blue Filter button in the upper right section of the page. In the Enter Keywords to Search For field, type GSAS Professional Development Fund and click on the blue GO button.
  4. Select GSAS Professional Development Fund in the left column to display program details and click on the blue Apply button.
  5. Choose the Project Description tab, enter the requested information, and click Save and Next.
  6. You will now be on the Travel tab. Enter the requested information (Cambridge/USA if not traveling), then click Save and Next.
  7. You will now be on the Additional Questions tab. Enter your itemized expenses, and click Save and Next.
  8. You will now be on the Submission tab; answer the question concerning human subjects research.
  9. Select Click Here to Validate Application.
  10. Enter your Harvard ID number, hit tab, then click on Submit Application. Click OK to finalize your submission.

​*If you experience problems completing the CARAT application, you may request assistance by clicking Contact Us on the bottom right of each page in the CARAT system.




If you have questions about the Harvard Griffin GSAS Professional Development Fund or the application instructions, contact your Financial Aid Officer.


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