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Professional Organizations – A Great Way to Find Funding Opportunities

10 Mar Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments

One of the best ways to find graduate fellowships and related funding opportunities – and one often overlooked by students – is through professional organizations.

Every field (and sub-field) of academic study and professional endeavor has at least one organization that serves as a space for professional networking and communication. One of the functions of these organizations is to support students and emerging professionals in the field. For this reason, professional organizations often post information about funding opportunities. Some also offer their own scholarships, fellowships, prizes, travel grants, or professional development programs.

Here are some examples from a variety of fields selected at random:

Early career graduate students in particular can benefit from seeking out awards offered by professional organizations. Consider the following:

  • These awards are often open to Master’s students, unlike major federal and foundation grants, which tend to fund advanced doctoral and faculty-level research.
  • The size of the awards may be modest, but don’t underestimate the value of the line on your resume or the connections and mentoring that often accompanies these honors. Even when the monetary award is small, professional organizations tend to view awardees as representing the most promising young professionals in their field.
  • Professional organization scholarships are often “gateway” awards. They provide practice in writing fellowship applications and help early-career graduate students build a track record of success that boosts their chances of winning major grants later in their career.

Note that awards offered by a professional organization frequently require the applicant to be a member of the organization in order to submit an application. It’s OK to join the organization in order to gain access to these opportunities – this is common and in no way prejudices your application. Most organizations offer discounted memberships for students. Membership offers other benefits as well. You may be able to access members-only email lists and funding databases, attend conferences and networking events, or connect to job and internship opportunities.

So, if you haven’t yet, take a closer look at professional organizations in your field. If you’re not sure what the most useful and reputable organizations in your field are, ask your professors and professional mentors. There’s a good chance they are members of these organizations and benefited from the same opportunities while building their careers.

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