Graduate Student Organizations – Professional Development Grant

Attention: Graduate Student Organizations

Workshop presenter

Involvement in organizations is a valuable leadership experience for graduate students, and the benefit multiplies through quality programming hosted by these groups.  These experiences and programming fill a need in uniquely contributing to various aspects of professional development for graduate students.  As such, the Graduate School Office of Professional Development seeks to enhance these opportunities by providing funds for professional development activities for graduate student organizations.

Graduate groups that are Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) with the Center for Leadership & Involvement (CfLI), in partnership with a UW–Madison academic department, graduate program, or similar university unit, are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $1,000 to be used toward hosting professional development events that directly benefit graduate students.  The university unit will be primarily responsible for financial oversight of the grant funds.


The grant may be used for the following purposes:

Competitive applications will include:

  1. About your organization and primary contact
    Tell us about your graduate student organization, including the name and the group’s mission. Indicate the individual who is the contact for the proposed activity, including name, email, and phone number.
  2. Description and goals
    Provide a brief description of the proposed activity that would be funded by the grant. Priority will be given to proposals for new/non-repeat professional development activities. Include your goals for the activity, and indicate how these map to the DiscoverPD professional development framework, where possible.  If the activity does not map to the framework, please specify.  When selecting speakers, consider resources such as alumni, faculty with expertise in the topic (see the Experts Database), the Diversity Inventory, and more.
  3. Audience
    Describe who your target audience is for the proposed activity.  Consider collaboration across departments or organizations.  If you are hosting a speaker, you may want to utilize their time on campus and have them talk with graduate students as well as meet with faculty.  Be sure to invite your target audience(s) to the program, and describe how you will do so in your publicity plan (below).
  4. Budget
    Indicate the level of support requested up to $1,000, split among honoraria, travel, advertising, and/or refreshments.  Additionally, list the university unit and name of faculty/staff person responsible for oversight of appropriate use of funds, as well as the accounting contact responsible for transfer and allocation of funds.
  5. Publicity plan
    Describe how you will ensure a good turn-out at your activity, including how you will advertise.
  6. Evaluation plan
    Describe methods that will be used to demonstrate if goals have been met, the timeframe for collecting and reviewing data, and how the evaluation will help your organization improve future programming.  Consider ways that you can evaluate the impact of your program over time.  All reports must be submitted to the Graduate School no later than August 1, 2022.


Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) ( comprised of at least 50% graduate students are eligible to apply for the grant.  They must apply in partnership with a UW–Madison academic department, graduate program, or similar university unit; this unit will be recipient of and responsible for financial oversight of the grant funds.

If your organization is not currently an RSO (you can check by searching your group in the Wisconsin Involvement Network), register for RSO status now; the approval process can take up to 2 weeks.  Your grant application will be considered if your RSO status is pending.

If RSO status is a concern, please contact Alissa Ewer (; exceptions may be considered.

2021-22 Process

  • Tuesday, October 5, 2021: Grant opportunity announced, applications accepted online
  • Friday, November 5, 2021: Application deadline
  • By first week of December, 2021: Selection decisions made and applicants notified
  • May 31, 2022: Deadline for funds to be spent – no extensions will be granted
  • August 1, 2022: Reports due to the Graduate School, addressing if and how programmatic goals were met


Event management: Graduate student organizations are responsible for all aspects of event planning and management, which may include booking space, reserving AV equipment, arranging travel for speakers, managing participant registration, ordering refreshments, distributing evaluation surveys, etc.

Publicity: Graduate student organizations are responsible for ensuring participation in the program.  Additionally, for activities that appeal to a broad audience, the Graduate School Office of Professional Development ( can aid in promotion via the weekly newsletter, events calendar, and social media; at least two weeks advance notice should be given if this assistance is desired.

Financial: The awards will be disbursed as a transfer of funds to a 101 account associated with the academic department, graduate program, or similar university unit.  This unit and the faculty/staff member indicated in the application will be responsible for financial oversight of the grant funds.  The grant may be used only for purposes listed above (allowable honoraria, travel, advertising, and/or refreshments) and university accounting policies must be followed.  Funds must be spent no later than May 31; no extensions will be granted.

Policy/liability: Graduate student organizations are expected to follow all campus policies and event planning procedures.  See the Center for Leadership & Involvement Event Planning Guide for more information.