IRP Dissertation Research Fellowship

Each year, graduate students participating in IRPs Graduate Research Fellows (GRF) training program are eligible to compete for a dissertation fellowship that provides a year of support to complete their doctoral dissertation. In addition, summer support is provided to one or two runners-up when funds are available. The funding is made possible by support from the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

GRFs are Ph.D. students working with IRP affiliates in the departments of economics, public affairs, social work, sociology, political science, and other poverty-related disciplines. To be eligible to apply for an IRP dissertation fellowship, students must simultaneously apply for support from another source.

Each year, IRP distributes the call for applications in January with a late February deadline and late March announcement of awards. The most recent call is linked below.

Call for Proposals for IRP Dissertation Research Funding for 2017–2018

The deadline for proposal submission is February 28, 2017.

We are pleased to announce that with the financial support of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation (U.S. DHHS/ASPE), we anticipate supporting at least one dissertation research project for the academic year 2017–2018. We invite proposals in support of poverty-related dissertation projects. Proposals should be submitted by doctoral students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and must be sponsored by an IRP faculty Affiliate. Students should expect to complete their Ph.D. within the next two years. Funding will be at the level of a 50% Research or Project Assistant for 12 months. Additional awards for 50% RA/PA for the three months of summer 2017 may also be awarded.

We welcome proposals to support poverty-related dissertations on any topic, but special consideration will be given to projects with a focus on IRP's six integrative themes, noted below, given our role as the HHS-designated National Poverty Research Center.

Focal Themes

Special consideration will be granted to projects related to the research themes incorporated into IRP's National Poverty Research Center award from the U.S. DHHS/ASPE:

  • Diverging Destinies. (Income and wealth distribution, labor market dynamics, determinates and facilitators of family stability and the causes, characteristics, and consequences of income inequality.)
  • Deep Poverty. (The unique characteristics and needs of the deep poor, as well as policies and strategies to combat extreme poverty and pervasive disconnection.)
  • Self-Sufficiency and Work Support. (Policy and strategies to reduce poverty and material deprivation by encouraging work and promoting self-reliance and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of existing human services programs.)
  • Race and Poverty Policy. (How race interacts with poverty, inequality, self-sufficiency, and the labor market, including analysis of potential disparate impacts of public policies, systems, and institutional practices.)
  • Place-Based Theory. (How place affects poverty and how poverty affects place, including a range of spatial and geographic dimensions, including region, population density—urban, rural, suburban—proximity to a metropolitan area, and neighborhood.)
  • Life-Course Theory. (Study of people's lives with emphasis on their social and structural contexts and explaining the mechanisms by which poverty affects children and adults, and especially how it "gets under the skin.")

Additional Qualifications

Funding is available to students who will have completed their required coursework by September 2017 and can reasonably expect to complete their Ph.D. in academic year 2018–2019 or 2019–2020. Preference will be given to students who have participated in the IRP Graduate Research Fellows program; however, any student with sponsorship of an IRP faculty Affiliate may apply. In addition, all IRP applicants must show proof of application for outside funding support from another source in order to be considered for this award. Acknowledgement of receipt of a dissertation or related grant proposal from you by another funder can be demonstrated by a letter or e-mail from the other potential funder, acknowledging receipt of your application. No student will be allowed to receive both the IRP award and a similar award from another organization.

Project Proposals

Proposals should be no longer than 10 double-spaced pages but must clearly describe the primary research questions and how this research will make an original contribution to poverty research; the proposed methodology and data sources, and current status and expected date of completion. The deadline for proposal submission is February 28, 2017.

The letter of sponsorship from the IRP Affiliate should address the merits of the project, the faculty Affiliate's level of involvement (e.g., chair of dissertation committee, collaborator on related project, etc.), and expected date of completion of the dissertation. Affiliates are asked to sponsor no more than one project per year.

Proposals and letters of sponsorship (to be submitted separately by the sponsor) are due by February 28, 2017. Both should be sent to Dave Chancellor ( Awards will be announced by March 31, 2017.

Proposal Contents

  1. Cover page listing the following:
    • Student's name, department, contact information, and history of participation in the IRP Graduate Research Fellows program
    • Faculty sponsor's name
    • Project title and abstract
  2. Description of proposed work, no more than 10 double-spaced pages, to include:
    • Research question, relevance to IRP priorities, original contribution to the literature and poverty research
    • Research design, methodology and data sources
    • Current status/preliminary work and expected completion date
  3. Current CV
  4. Documentation that the proposal was entered in at least one additional outside dissertation competition
  5. Letter of sponsorship from an IRP sponsoring faculty, which should be sent separate from the rest of the proposal.


Receipt of a dissertation fellowship or summer dissertation support from IRP will require a commitment to submit brief quarterly progress reports and a final summary of your dissertation progress (e.g., copy of dissertation abstract, link to publication of dissertation section in a journal, etc.) within 60 days of your project end date. This summary will be shared with the ASPE Program Officer and IRP Executive Committee.