Student Research Grants Competition Information

Have you been invited to present your research at a conference, or do you need additional funds to support upcoming research travel in preparation for your final exhibition or thesis? If so, you should consider applying for a Student Research Grants Competition (SRGC) Travel Award. Award levels range from $300 to $1,500 for Research Travel and $300 to $1,200 for Conference Presentation funds.

Funding for these awards generously comes from the Vilas Trust and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Important COVID-19 and Fiscal Year Transition Update

Note, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, university sponsored travel is currently cancelled until June 30, 2020. With the plausible chance that further modifications to travel may be required after this date, we have placed a hold on reviewing applications until we have more information on what travel might look like after this date. Additionally, awards are provided on a fiscal year cycle (July 1 – June 30) We are currently transitioning from Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2021. Award eligibility, award level, and review dates will be updated as we learn more about Fiscal Year 2021 funding and potential modifications due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We will update this webpage and recommence application reviews as more information is available.

Research Travel Award

Do you need financial support to travel in order to conduct research related to your thesis or final exhibition? If so, apply for the SRGC Research Travel Awards. Research applications are reviewed on a regular basis throughout the academic year by a review committee and award amounts range between $300 and $1,500. All graduate students are eligible to apply, although priority will be given to dissertators and final-year MFA students. The $1,500 level research travel award is reserved for a limited number of dissertators and final-year MFA students conducting international research travel. Research travel awards cannot be used for travel that primarily involves attending a conference, workshop, or training experience that does not involve conducting research needed for your dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition.

Important COVID-19 and Fiscal Year Transition Update

Note, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, university sponsored travel is currently cancelled until June 30, 2020. Additionally, as a part of the Return to Research Phase 1 directives, researchers seeking to resume research that cannot be completed at home must receive approval from their college dean (or designee for approval) or the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. When university sponsored travel is allowed, applicants will need to demonstrate they have received this approval for their application to be considered.

With the plausible chance that further modifications to travel will be required after June 30th, we have placed a hold on reviewing applications until we have more information on what travel might look like after this date. Additionally, awards are provided on a fiscal year cycle (July 1 to June 30). We are currently transitioning from Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2021. Award eligibility, award level, and review dates will be updated as we learn more about Fiscal Year 2021 funding and potential modifications due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We will update this webpage and recommence application reviews as more information is available.

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Application Information and Timeline

Awards for domestic and international research travel are available to UW–Madison graduate students traveling to conduct research supporting their dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition. Research travel award applications are reviewed on a regular basis during the academic year. Additional information on application deadlines and award notification dates will be posted when we finalize program rules for this fiscal year. Please see the COVID-19 and Fiscal Year Transition update above for more information on this.

Research Travel Award Eligibility

  • Student must be enrolled at UW–Madison as a full-time graduate student in a graduate program and eligible to receiving funding.
  • Student must be traveling to conduct research supporting a dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition. The Research Travel Awards do not support travel to attend a conference, workshop, or training activity that does not involve conducting research for your dissertation, thesis, or final exhibition.
  • Travel must start between July 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, to be considered during the current competition year, although travel starting by June 30, 2021, will have priority over travel starting later in summer 2021. Applications for research travel that has already concluded are eligible, so long as the travel occurred between the dates listed above.

How to Apply

In the online application, you will be asked to:

  1. Complete an application form which includes information regarding research location, dates, and student status.
  2. Upload a synopsis: Justify how you will use a Research Travel Award in no more than two pages. Your synopsis should be clear, professional, and well-written, and must include:
    • a synopsis of your research;
    • a clear description of your travel plans;
    • a description of how specifically you will carry out your research (archival collections, interview subjects, equipment you will use, etc.);
    • any other justification that will help your application.

    There are no formatting guidelines for the synopsis other than the two-page length limit.

    Your application will be evaluated by a review committee. Please note that your application may be read by someone from any discipline; strong applications are able to convey the importance of an applicant’s research and travel plans to a non-expert or person outside your field.

  3. Fill out an estimated budget: An itemized budget form in the application helps you estimate expenses. The primary categories typically are transportation, lodging/accommodations, and meals. Applicants are expected to research rates and be good stewards of university resources when making purchasing decisions. Applications that appear to have inflated costs or been irresponsible with university funds will not be considered.
  4. Request a letter of support from your faculty advisor. Reviewers look for the advisor’s enthusiastic recommendation of the student’s research travel plan and clear support of the student’s research as a worthwhile contribution to the field of study.

Complete and submit the electronic application by the appropriate posted reviewing deadline to receive a response early enough to allow you to make any necessary arrangements. The online application can be found at the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH) website.

Research Travel Award Recipients

  • Payments to domestic students and international students considered resident aliens for tax purposes must be paid through the Bursar’s Office.
  • International students with non-resident alien status for tax purposes must be paid through payroll. If you are selected as a Research Travel Award recipient, you may need to submit additional documentation before you can receive the funding. The process you will need to follow will be based on whether you have already held an appointment at UW–Madison.
    • If you have already held an appointment, the Glacier system through the UW–Madison HR Office will follow up with you to determine if you need to submit additional documentation.
    • If you have not held any appointment, the Graduate School Payroll Coordinator will send you a letter requesting a W-4 form and a direct deposit form before your information is forwarded to the UW–Madison HR Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I also apply for the Conference Presentation Funds?

Applicants can submit applications for both the Research Travel Awards and Conference Presentation Funds, however, each eligible student can only accept one SRGC award, whether a Research Travel Award or Conference Presentation Fund award, each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

What materials must I provide in order to complete the application and how do I estimate my travel budget?

Please see the “How to Apply” section above.

Does the UW–Madison Travel Policy apply to Research Travel Award recipients?

Yes. Applicants can find helpful information on travel policy at the Division of Business Services Travel Planning and Booking web page as well as more detailed policy descriptions at the UW System Travel policy web page.

May I apply for the award if I am driving to my research site?

Yes. You may use the award to pay for mileage or gas and parking expenses incurred during travel if you are driving a privately owned vehicle. You will need to include documentation indicating mileage as part of your application. Note that you cannot request funding to cover both mileage and gas. The use of a rental vehicle is acceptable when it is the most cost-effective means of transportation available. If the rental vehicle includes enough miles to cover your trip, you may include the rental charge, gas, parking, and tolls in your budget request. Please visit the Division of Business Services website for more information on using a vehicle during travel to help choose the best vehicle option.

How do I obtain my advisor’s letter of support?

In your application, you will provide your advisor’s contact information. Once you submit your advisor’s contact information and save your application, your advisor will receive an email that will include a link to upload the letter. You are encouraged to follow up with your advisor to confirm that she/he received the message, which has the subject line “Please Serve as a Reference for [Student Name]” from the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub.

What happens after I submit my application?

Should your application be both complete and correctly submitted, you should expect to receive a notification of the award decision by email by the notification deadline indicated for your submission period. Once notified of an award decision, you should follow the instructions in the award letter to officially accept the award.

Will I receive my award if I don’t have my receipts?

Students are no longer required to submit receipts to receive their travel award. However, please keep your receipts and records of your travel expenses, as the Graduate School will do random documentation checks to confirm that the approved travel took place.

Will I receive funding to cover all my travel expenditures?

No, in most cases. SRGC awards are currently only available at the $300, $600, $1,200, or $1,500 levels. You may request and be considered for the highest award level that is less than your demonstrated unmet need. The maximum award for domestic research travel is $1,200. There are a limited number of $1,500 awards available only for dissertators and final-year MFA students conducting international research travel.

Conference Presentation Funds

Do you need financial support to present your research at a conference? If so, apply for the SRGC Conference Presentation Funds to be considered for a $300, $600, or $1,200 award. All graduate students are eligible to apply for SRGC Conference Presentation Funds, with priority given to dissertators and final-year MFA students.

Important COVID-19 Update

Note, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, university sponsored travel is currently cancelled until June 30, 2020. With the plausible chance that further modifications to travel may be required after this date, we have placed a hold on reviewing applications until we have more information on what travel might look like after this date. Additionally, awards are provided on a fiscal year cycle (July 1 – June 30). We are currently transitioning from Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2021. Award eligibility, award level, and review dates will be updated as we learn more about Fiscal Year 2021 funding and potential modifications due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We will update this webpage and recommence application reviews as more information is available.

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Application Information and Timeline

Awards for domestic and international conference travel are available to UW–Madison graduate students traveling primarily for the purpose of presenting their research at a conference.  Conference presentation application decisions are sent on a regular basis throughout the year. Additional information on application deadlines and award notification dates will be posted when we finalize program rules for this fiscal year. Please see the COVID-19 and Fiscal Year Transition update above for more information on this

Award Levels

  • $300 and $600 for dissertators in Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences disciplines
  • $300, $600, and $1,200 for dissertators and final-year MFA students in Arts & Humanities and Social Science disciplines
  • $300 and $600 for pre-dissertator doctoral and master’s level students

Eligibility

To be eligible for a Conference Presentation award, the following criteria must apply:

  • Student must be enrolled at UW–Madison as a full-time graduate student in a graduate program and eligible to receiving funding.
  • Student must be traveling to present research (e.g., paper, poster, panel) at a conference (may be domestic or international). The research being presented must have taken place as part of your UW–Madison graduate school experience.
  • Conference start date must fall within the current fiscal year (between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021).
  • Student must demonstrate unmet need of at least $300 (after deducting from the total cost any other funding you will receive to attend the same conference) by filling out an Estimated Budget Form.

How to Apply

In the online application you will be asked to:

  1. Complete an application form with information including conference location, student status, and presentation type
  2. Upload proof of acceptance to present at the conference (e.g., email, letter of paper/poster acceptance, or conference program cover and page where you are listed as a panelist/presenter). Please highlight the portion of the document which lists you as a presenter if it is not immediately apparent. This document must show that you are presenting a paper or poster, moderating a session, serving as a panelist, or in a leadership role for the hosting organization, not simply attending the conference. This document must be in English or include an English translation.
  3. Upload an abstract of paper or poster to be presented.
  4. Upload an estimated budget form that includes all outside funding sources (if any) and shows that at least $300 of additional funding is needed. An itemized budget template in the application form helps you do this. Applicants may visit the Division of Business Services Travel Planning and Booking web page for a summary of travel policies or the UW System Travel Policies web page for detailed descriptions of these policies. Applicants are expected to research rates and be good stewards of university resources when making purchasing decisions. Applications that appear to have inflated costs or been irresponsible with university resources will not be considered. Note that, in addition to your advisor and academic program, you should investigate whether the organization hosting the conference has funding available to support graduate student presenters or presenters from other targeted groups with which you identify.
  5. Request advisor’s approval. Your advisor does not need to fill out a formal letter of recommendation; rather they will be sent an email with a link where they will be asked to verify that you will be presenting at the conference. Also note that this approval must come from a UW–Madison graduate faculty member who will vouch for the fact that the research was conducted as part of your UW–Madison graduate school experience.
  6. Upload a summary of your travel plans and any additional justification that will help with your travel award application.

The online application can be found at the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH) website.

Conference Presentation Funds Recipients

  • Payments to domestic students and international students considered resident aliens for tax purposes must be paid through the Bursar’s Office.
  • International students with non-resident alien status for tax purposes must be paid through payroll. If you are selected as a Research Travel Award recipient, you may need to submit additional documentation before you can receive the funding. The process you will need to follow will be based on whether you have already held an appointment at UW–Madison.
    • If you have already held an appointment, the Glacier system through the UW–Madison HR Office will follow up with you to determine if you need to submit additional documentation.
    • If you have not held any appointment, the Graduate School Payroll Coordinator will send you a letter requesting a W-4 form and a direct deposit form before your information is forwarded to the UW–Madison HR Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I apply even though I don’t know if my proposal will be accepted to the conference?

No. Confirmation of conference acceptance is required at the time of application. You are encouraged to start your application as soon as you are able once you receive your acceptance. If you need to request pre-approval for the SRGC award due to special policies set by the conference you would like to attend, please contact srgc-conference@grad.wisc.edu.

May I also apply for the Research Travel funds?

Applicants can submit applications for both the Research Travel and Conference Presentation awards, however, each eligible student can only accept one SRGC award, whether a Research Travel Award or Conference Presentation Fund award, each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

What materials must I provide in order to complete the application and how do I estimate my travel budget?

Please see the “How to Apply” section above.

Does the UW–Madison Travel Policy apply to SRGC award recipients?

Yes. Applicants can find helpful information on travel policy at the Division of Business Services Travel Planning and Booking web page as well as more detailed policy descriptions at the UW System Travel policy web page.

May I apply for the award if I am driving to the conference?

Yes. You may use the award to pay for mileage or gas and parking expenses incurred during travel if you are driving a privately owned vehicle. You will need to include documentation indicating mileage as part of your application. Note that you cannot request funding to cover both mileage and gas. The use of a rental vehicle is acceptable when it is the most cost-effective means of transportation available. If the rental vehicle includes enough miles to cover your trip, you may include the rental charge, gas, parking, and tolls in your budget request. Please visit the Division of Business Services website for more information on using a vehicle during travel to help choose the best vehicle option.

How do I obtain my advisor’s approval for this application?

In your application, you will provide contact information for your advisor. This should be the person advising you toward the research/thesis/exhibition relevant to your participation in the conference. Once you input your advisor’s contact information and save the application, your advisor will receive an email invitation to follow the link and approve your submission for the Conference Presentation Funds. You are encouraged to follow up with your advisor to confirm that she/he received the message titled “Please Serve as a Reference for [Student Name]” from the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub.

What happens after I submit my application?

Should your application be both complete, including advisor approval, and correctly submitted, you should expect to receive a notification of the award decision by email within four weeks of submission. Once notified of an award decision, you should follow the instructions in the award letter. If anything is unclear, please contact srgc-conference@grad.wisc.edu.

Will I receive my award if I don’t have my receipts?

Students are no longer required to submit receipts in order to receive their travel award. However, please keep your receipts and records of your travel expenses, as the Graduate School will do random documentation checks to confirm that the approved travel took place.

Will I receive funding to cover all my travel expenditures?

No, in most cases. Conference Presentation Funds awards are currently only available at the $300, $600, or $1,200 levels. You may request and be considered for the highest award level you are eligible for that is less than your demonstrated unmet need. Please see the “Award Levels” section above for more information on the levels you may be eligible for.

General FAQ

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When should I apply?

As soon as you are able, whether before or after you travel. Applications for the Conference Presentation Funds are accepted and reviewed all year on a rolling basis for dissertators and final-year MFA students, and on a regular cycle for pre-dissertator doctoral and master’s students, as described in the Conference Presentation Fund Application Information and Timeline section of this webpage. Research Travel Award applications are also accepted year-round and reviewed in batches on a regular cycle, as described in the Research Travel Award Application Information and Timeline section of this webpage.

What might cause my application to be rejected?

There are several reasons why your application may be rejected:

  • You are not enrolled in one of the graduate degree programs of the Graduate School or are not eligible to receiving funding.
  • You have not followed the guidelines for submitting the required materials.
  • You have applied to the wrong competition – e.g., you are traveling primarily to present at a conference, but you applied using the Research Travel Award application or vice versa.
  • You have already received an award during this fiscal year.
  • You submitted documents in languages other than English without providing a translation.
  • Your proposal was not approved by the reviewing committee.

In years when funding is limited, the Graduate School reserves the right to award qualifying applications using a lottery system, and not all qualifying applications will be funded. Dissertators and final-year MFA students will receive priority over other graduate students when awards are limited.

What documents do I need to submit in order to receive my award funds?

Awards will be processed upon acceptance by the student. We still require students to provide post-travel documents. These include 1) an updated budget including the expenses you incurred during your travels, and 2) a post-travel report documenting how presenting at the conference assisted your professional development as a student and scholar. Failure to provide these documents will affect your eligibility for future student travel competitions administered by the Graduate School.

May I still receive the award if my travel plans change?

This depends on the nature of the changes. Minor changes on travel dates and/or length of stay are normally acceptable. However, the award may not be used for traveling to research sites or conferences other than what was proposed in the application and approved unless a prearrangement is made with the Graduate School. If there is a discrepancy between the estimated budget and the final budget because your plans have changed, you must provide a statement or explanation with your finalized budget.

How long will it take for me to receive my funds?

Domestic students and international students with resident alien status for tax purposes will receive payment two to six weeks after accepting the award. International students with non-resident alien status for tax purposes will receive payment within three to eight weeks.

Note: Due to legal requirements, international students considered to be non-resident aliens for tax purposes may have taxes taken out of their award. This is not something over which the Graduate School has control (see “Am I required to pay tax on the award?” below).

Is there a funding string associated with the award?

These awards are classified as “scholarships” and not “reimbursements”, so there is no funding string associated with the award.

Can the Graduate School issue the check to my program instead of me?

No. Awards will only be issued in your name. You are responsible for making payment arrangements with your program coordinators or any other parties if they make travel arrangements on your behalf.

Am I required to pay tax on the award?

This depends on your citizenship status. Domestic students and international students with resident alien status for tax purposes will receive the full amount of the award and are advised to consult with a tax expert for tax-related questions. However, if you are an international student with non-resident alien status for tax purposes, tax may be deducted from your award, depending on the treaty between the U.S. and your home country. UW–Madison’s Accounting Services has webpages for additional information on federal and state tax reporting and payments to individuals (especially see “Scholarships and Fellowships” under “Federal and State Withholding on Payments to Individuals”).

May I still receive the award if I graduate before I receive my funds?

Normally, yes. You can still receive the award if you apply and the travel takes place during the time when you are still enrolled at UW–Madison. However, if you graduate before receiving your funding, you will need to ensure your mailing address is up to date in your Student Center as funds may be sent by check. Note that students also may only receive awards during terms in which they are enrolled for at least one credit.

Who may I contact if I have more questions?

Before reaching out with a question, please carefully read through the information found on this webpage as almost every question is answered here. If you have questions after thoroughly reading this webpage, you may contact srgc-research@grad.wisc.edu for questions related to a Research Travel application and srgc-conference@grad.wisc.edu for questions related to a Conference Travel application.