Political Science Grants

College isn’t cheap, and students majoring in political science face a challenge coming up with the money to pay for it. Annual tuition plus expenses can run anywhere from more than $8,000 to as much as $20,000 to $35,000.

Students and their families feeling the pinch in their wallets can get financial assistance through dozens of political science grants to help defray the costs. Grants are available through a number of councils, foundations and institutions of higher learning.

National Science Foundation

The foundation has Political Science Program awards which support work promoting the understanding of government, citizenship and politics. Students drafting research proposals are expected to make them “theoretically motivated, conceptually precise, methodologically rigorous and empirically oriented,” the foundation emphasizes.

The research areas receiving funding can include such topics as American government and politics, political behavior, international relations and political institutions. Past financial awards have been given to support research on:

  • Campaigns and elections
  • Electoral choice and systems
  • Citizen support in emerging and established democracies
  • Political change and regime transitions
  • Party activism
  • Political psychology

The due dates to submit research proposals are Jan. 15, 2012, and annually thereafter, and Aug. 15, 2012, and annually thereafter. Awards have been made in 32 states. Colleges and research centers in Illinois have received the most in grant funds from the NSF, at more than $17.4 million, followed by Michigan, at more than $13.1 million, and California, at more than $11.3 million.

Over the years, the grants have provided financial assistance to students from across the US:

  • A student at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor received $5,521,304 for collaborative research on American national election studies for the period from 2006 to 2009.
  • A Stanford University student received $3,810,894 for his research on the same topic.
  • A student at Washington University was awarded $3,005,000 for a political science Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
  • A University of Chicago student received $2,266,563 for her proposal for continued support of collaborative research on time-sharing experiments for the social sciences.

The foundation’s Political Science program also offers Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grants. The project budget for these grants has a $14,000 maximum. The application deadlines are Jan. 15 and Sept. 16. The foundation has specific details on the individual grants available and how to apply for one on its website at www.nsf.gov.

National Research Council

Each year the council awards 60 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowships for Minorities, in the form of a $6,000 allowance to cover educational expenses plus a $17,000 stipend. Candidates must be American citizens or nationals enrolled in, or planning to enroll in, a researched-based undergraduate or Ph.D. program in political science.

Application deadline is the middle of November. For more information visit nationalacademies.org.

Michigan State University Libraries

Information on more than 60 financial aid packages in the form of grants, scholarships and fellowships is available at the university’s library system. Some aid packages focus on a specific demographic student population or on students studying political science on a global scale. Others provide financial support for students planning on public service after completing college.

Ralph Bunche Human Rights Fellowship

Amnesty International’s Ralph Bunche Human Rights Fellowship Program focuses on the development of human rights leaders in “communities of color,” says Michigan State University. Each year the program awards up to three one-year fellowships to applicants meeting the qualifications of the specific fellowship, and who have demonstrated local leadership in an underserved minority community.

The annual fellowships begin in September and continue through the following August. Award recipients receive a stipend and comprehensive insurance benefits for the term of the fellowship. For more information visit web.gc.cuny.edu.

George D. Schwab Fellowship in American Foreign Policy

Students can also apply for a George D. Schwab Fellowship in American Foreign Policy. Each year, a $2,000 award is available to help with costs related to dissertation research pertaining to a topic leading to a better understanding of American foreign policy.

Applications may be sent to The Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5203, New York, NY 10016, 212-817-2100. For more information visit web.gc.cuny.edu.

Women’s Research and Education Institute Fellowships

The Women’s Research and Education Institute awards annual Congressional Fellowships on Women and Public Policy. Each recipient receives a monthly stipend of $1,300, plus another $500 to buy health insurance. The fellowships are reserved for graduate students working towards equity for women.

Award recipients gain firsthand policymaking experience and graduate credits working from January through August as Congressional legislative aides in Washington, D.C. Application deadline is May 22. For more information visit www.wrei.org.

Abe Fellowship Program

Students can compete for funds through the Abe Fellowship Program, offered annually through the Social Science Research Council, the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the American Council of Learned Societies. Applicants should submit research proposals on global issues, problems shared by all industrial and industrializing societies or issues pertaining to relations between Japan and the United States.

More details on the Abe Fellowship Program are available at www.ssrc.org.

Samuel Huntington Public Service Award

The Samuel Huntington Public Service Award provides a $10,000 stipend for graduating college seniors, for them to work in public service for 12 months anywhere in the world. The award assumes the students will move on to graduate school or a career after the year is up.

To apply, students must develop a proposal for public service in the U.S. or abroad. More information on this grant is available at www.nationalgridus.com.

Students interested in a particular political science discipline can also find financial help. Some of those disciplines can include the American political system, the United States Congress or the editorial and research field. Others include international political affairs, the political process and intelligence relating to national security.

Brady Fellowship

The W.H. Brady Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research awards a Brady Fellowship to students wanting to study topics such as the proper scope and relation of executive, legislative and judicial powers; speech regulation and campaign finance; internal rules and procedures regulating Congress; and election law reform.

Recent Ph.D. graduates are eligible to apply, as well as tenured and tenure-track political scientists. To apply, students must submit a letter of interest, three letters of reference, a curriculum vitae and a writing sample. For details on the fellowship, visit www.aei.org.

Congressional Research Awards and Robert H. Michel Special Project Grants

The Dirksen Congressional Center offers Congressional Research Awards and Robert H. Michel Special Project Grants.

Students can compete for a Congressional Research Award to provide funding for congressional research. In 2011 as much as $35,000 was available. Individual awards ranged from a minimum of several hundred dollars to a maximum of $3,500. Graduate students who have finished their dissertation prospectus may apply. Details can be found at www.dirksencenter.org.

The Robert H. Michael Special Project Grants are similar to the Congressional Research Awards in that they must focus specifically on Congress. The Special Project Grants fund students’ efforts to advance the understanding of the legislature through research and teaching.

Applicants must email their proposal, which should include a brief description of their project, a detailed explanation of specifically what they propose to do, their proposal budget, how the center’s support will be recognized, and how they are qualified to do the work. More details can be found at www.dirksencenter.org.

Carnegie Endowment Junior Fellowship

The Carnegie Endowment’s Junior Fellows Program offers as many as ten one-year fellowships to graduating seniors and recent graduates who have not started graduate school yet. The award recipients are selected from a pool of 200 colleges and universities. Fellows work as editorial and research assistants for the endowment’s senior associates.

Students must be nominated to receive this type of financial aid, and the annual nomination deadline falls on Jan. 15. Junior Fellows are paid a full-time salary of $3,000 per month. More details are available at www.carnegieendowment.org.

International Foundation for Electoral Systems Fellowships

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) awards two $5,000 Democracy Studies Fellowships each year to deserving graduate students for research on the development of democracy, election administration or civic participation in the political process.

Award recipients conduct independent research under the guidance of an IFES mentor for eight to ten weeks, and they are required to complete a paper to present to the public or IFES colleagues.

The fellowships are available for U.S. or international MA or Ph.D. students studying international relations, political science, public administration or a related field. IFES also offers two other fellowships to students from specific institutions of higher learning:

  1. The Charles and Kathleen Manatt Fellowship is offered to graduate students from universities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
  2. The William and Kathy Hybl Fellowship is for graduate students attending universities in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah or Wyoming.

More information on these fellowships can be found at www.ifes.org.

John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Some grants are named after high-profile or political figures. The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation provides between $200 and $5,000 in grants and fellowships to support political research. The funds are made available twice yearly, in the spring and fall, and are divided up according to students’ area of study:

  1. The Marjorie Kovler Research Fellowship provides a $2,500 stipend for students researching foreign intelligence and the presidency. Application deadline is March 15.
  2. The Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Fellowship is a $5,000 stipend for applicants concentrating either on the field of Latin American or Western Hemisphere history or policy studies during the Kennedy administration, or the period from the Roosevelt through the Kennedy presidencies. Application deadline is Aug. 15.
  3. Each year, a single $3,100 Abba P. Schwartz Fellowship is awarded to a student doing research on immigration, naturalization or refugee policy. Application deadline is March 15.
  4. An annual Theodore C. Sorenson Fellowship for up to $3,600 is awarded for research on domestic policy, political journalism, polling, or press relations. Application deadline is March 15.
  5. Between 15 and 20 Kennedy Research Grants are given each year for research on any topic on the Kennedy period. Students doing Ph.D. dissertation research, preparing a recent dissertation for publication or researching recently opened or unused collections, will be given preference. The grant amounts are between $500 and $2,500. Application deadlines are March 15 for the spring grants and Aug. 15 for the fall grants.
  6. Ernest Hemingway Research Grants in the amount of $200 to $1,000 are provided to scholars who need to use the library’s Hemingway collection in their research. Ph.D. candidates doing dissertation research or researching in recently opened or unused parts of the collection will receive first priority. Application deadline is Nov. 1.

Applications for these grants received after the deadline will be held until the next cycle. For more details visit www.jfklibrary.org.

Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies

The Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies is a collaborative effort between the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and the Institute for the 21st Century. The fellowship comes in the form of a $5,000 stipend, and one or two are awarded each year. They provide financial support for students wanting to study postwar presidential policy.

Candidates are required to develop some of their work through researching the collections from the Lyndon B. Johnson library. More details on the fellowship can be found at www.lbjlibrary.org.

James Madison Memorial Foundation Graduate Fellowship

James Madison Memorial Foundation Graduate Fellowships are set aside for U.S. students showing their commitment to civic responsibilities as well as collegiate and professional activities. Applicants should be full-time teachers of American history, American government or social studies in grades 7-12.

  1. Junior fellowships are offered to students who are preparing to complete, or have recently completed, their undergraduate studies, and who intend to begin graduate work.
  2. Senior fellowships are provided to teachers wishing to begin work toward a graduate degree on a part-time basis by attending summer and evening classes.

The maximum award amount is $24,000, prorated over the length of the study, and will not exceed $12,000 for any academic year. For more information visit www.jamesmadison.com.

University of Oklahoma Grants

The University of Oklahoma’s Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center provides financial assistance for students through its Visiting Scholars Grant Program. Awards between $500 and $1,000 are available for students conducting research at the center’s archives. The money is for reimbursement for research-related travel and lodging.

The program is open to anyone, although students doing postdoctoral research in political science are one of the groups given preference. There are a few necessary application documents:

  1. Students must provide a description of the research proposal, in less than 1,000 words.
  2. They must also submit a curriculum vitae.
  3. Applicants should provide an explanation of how the center’s resources will help them in their research.
  4. They must submit a budget for their research.
  5. Applicants also need a letter of reference from an established scholar in the discipline. The letter must testify to the importance of the proposed research.

There is no application deadline.

Harvard University Grants

Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs provides grants and fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students and recent recipients of a doctoral degree to conduct research on contemporary as well as historical international and global issues.

  1. Kenenth I. Juster Fellowships provide financial assistance for undergraduate research and travel. Research can be in the areas of international relations, international negotiation and dispute resolution, global governance and affairs, or a related topic. The size of the award depends on what country the student chooses to research, how long they stay, the type of program in which the student participates and the applicant’s budget. For information, visit wcfia.harvard.edu.
  2. A few select graduate students can receive a postdoctoral U.S.-Japan Program Advanced Research Fellowship, to encourage the study of issues pertaining to relations between the two countries and issues revolving around how Japan relates to the rest of the world. The fellowship is for $44,000, plus the cost of health insurance. To be eligible, candidates must have completed their Ph.D. For information, visit wcfia.harvard.edu.

Students may conduct their research in less developed countries such as Africa and Southeast Asia. The funding for the grants and fellowships is provided by benefactors Albert and Celia Weatherhead, the Hartley R. Rogers family, Kenenth I. Juster and the family of Maurice and Sarah Samuels. Interested candidates can find more information here.

The school’s Institute of Politics has a Director’s Internship Program which coordinates paid summer internships for the university’s undergraduate students hoping for a career in politics or public service. The internships are in the U.S. as well as abroad. Students are paid a $4,000 stipend, and are expected to complete between eight and 10 weeks of work. For information, visit www.iop.harvard.edu.

Ohio State University Grants

The school’s Political Science Department awards seven $2,000 Cotting Graduate Research Grants to support research-related travel, survey costs and the purchase of data. Applications must include a statement of purpose which details the relevance of the research to the candidate’s academic, personal and professional goals, a budget for the project, and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in the department.

Minority students applying are automatically considered for a Madison Scott Grant. Application deadline is April 15. For more information visit polisci.osu.edu.

University of Minnesota Grants

The university shows strong support to its political science students. Each year it awards Charles Backstrom, Asher Christensen, Judge Earl and Mrs. Cecill Larson, William Schaper, and Michelle Roberts and Jonathan Smaby Scholarships specifically to political science majors.

To be eligible, students must officially declare a major in political science. Candidates may use the same form to apply for all five scholarships.

The Alfred I. Johnson Scholarship provides financial support in the form of a stipend for students showing an interest in public affairs. Scholarship amounts vary each year. Candidates should be able to demonstrate their intentions to follow a career in public affairs or in an elected office.

The William Jennings Bryan Prize is a $500 check given to the student writing the best undergraduate paper on political science during the academic year.

Ashland University Grants

Serious-minded students looking towards a degree in political science can get financial assistance through the Ashbrook Scholar Program. Students in the program receive a $2,000 scholarship which is renewable each year. The Ashbrook Center’s program is rigorous, but students who qualify are given special educational opportunities.

In the past, scholars have taken part in discussions with Clarence Thomas, Mitt Romney, Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Newt Gingrich, Benjamin Netanyahu, John Boehner, and George W. Bush. For more information, visit scholar.ashland.edu.

American Political Science Association

APSA offers grants and fellowships, and sponsors a number of programs in support of individual research. Some of those programs include the Congressional Fellowship Program, the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute for minorities and its Small Research Grant Program. It also provides funding, in the form of supplementary research support, for minority and international students studying political science.

Special Fund for the Study of Women and Politics

APSA’s Special Fund for the Study of Women and Politics offers supplemental financial support to resident and non-resident scholars. For details, click here.

Fund for Latino Scholarships

The Fund for Latino Scholarships supports individuals encouraging the recruitment, retention and promotion of Latino political scientists. It also provides travel grants for research work or presentations. For details, click here.

Huang Hsing Foundation Chun-tu Hsueh Fellowship for International Scholars

The Huang Hsing Foundation Chun-tu Hsueh Fellowship for International Scholars gives supplemental financial assistance for residencies by international scholars, with preference to students from the People’s Republic of China. See here for more information.

Marguerite Ross Barnett Endowment Fellowship

The Marguerite Ross Barnett Endowment Fellowship provides financial assistance in support of issues such as diversity, cultural nationalism, voting behaviors by blacks, education policies, and urban and minority politics. The fellowship is a collaboration between APSA and the Women’s Caucus for Political Science. For more details, click here.

Rita Mae Kelly Endowment Fellowship

The Rita Mae Kelly Endowment Fellowship provides financial help for students and scholars researching how gender, race, ethnicity and political power fit together.

The endowment was established through the combined efforts of friends and colleagues of Rita Mae Kelly, in affiliation with the Women’s Caucus for Political Science, the Latina Caucus for Political Science, the Committee for the Status of Latino/Latina in the Profession, the Women and Politics Research Organized Section and the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Organized Section. Details are available here.

Minority Fellows Program

The Minority Fellows Program offered through the American Political Science Association (APSA) aims at raising the number of minority students earning a Ph.D. in political science. Fellows who are awarded stipends receive a $4,000 fellowship which is divided into two equal payments.

The program focuses on blacks, Latinos and Native American graduate political science majors. To apply, students must write a personal statement and submit a resume, an official transcript, three letters of recommendation and a GRE score report. For more information, visit this link.

Harvard University Center for American Political Studies (CAPS)

CAPS awards Graduate and Undergraduate Seed Grants to lessen the costs of researching any topic on contemporary American politics. For graduate students, grants not to exceed $500 will defray the costs associated with traveling to make a presentation at a professional meeting.

Grants not to exceed $1,000 help cover the expenses of data collection or travel to gather research materials. For undergraduate students, grants not to exceed $250 are available for juniors and seniors researching on post-Civil War politics.

The seed grants are convenient for students because they are available quickly, with a minimum of paperwork to fill out. To apply, candidates can email the CAPS assistant director. There is no application deadline.

Summer Grants

Undergraduate Student Summer Grants for as much as $2,500 are awarded to Harvard College juniors writing a senior thesis on any topic of modern American politics. The funds aim at helping the students spend time during the summer and fall of their senior year researching and developing their thesis. Application deadline is Feb. 17, 2012.

Dissertation Fellowships

Graduate Student Dissertation Fellowships are available for students studying various topics in U.S. politics. Some of the topics that can qualify for a fellowship include slavery and abolition, the political philosophy of republicanism in America, and political institutions in the United States. The monetary amount of the fellowship depends on the student’s graduate record and how well put together the applicant’s project is. Application deadline is Feb. 17, 2012.

CAPS is led by a varied group of political scientists, sociologists, historians and economists at Harvard. For more information on the grants it offers, go here.

Yale University Grants

The MacMillan Center at Yale offers financial assistance through the Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy. Undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students are eligible to apply. Grant amounts can range from $500 to $5,000. Applications must be submitted online through the Yale Student Grants and Fellowships site. Application deadline is Feb. 25.

Grants are awarded to students doing research in locations all over the world. Some places where undergraduates are researching include Singapore, Greece, New Zealand, Ireland, Guatemala and Switzerland. Locations where graduate students researched included the United Kingdom, Iraq, Jordan, Argentina and India. For more information, visit www.yale.edu.

Northwestern University Grants

The Political Science Department at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences has made available five different types of grants for undergraduate and graduate students.

Ted and Cora Ginsberg Undergraduate Research Grant

The Ted and Cora Ginsberg Undergraduate Research Grant helps students pay for their undergraduate political science research in conjunction with a political science faculty member. Research can be conducted during the summer or during the regular school year.

Applicants should submit a cover sheet, a transcript and a three- to five-page outline of their project. The project description should include the research topic, the proposed research methodology, a description of the background preparation to do the research, and a budget.

The application deadline is April 15 for summer research. The deadline is ongoing for research during the academic year. For more information and how to apply for the grant, visit www.polisci.northwestern.edu.

Conference Travel Grants

Conference Travel Grants for as much as $500 are awarded each year to graduate students who have finished their first year of graduate studies. The money helps with the costs for students to travel to conferences and present their work. The grants are awarded through the graduate school as well as the university’s Political Science Department and the Buffett Center. For more details, visit www.tgs.northwestern.edu.

Graduate Research Grants

Graduate Research Grants for as much as $3,000 are given quarterly to finance research travel and materials students need for their work. Students can only receive one of these grants during their academic career. For more information, visit www.tgs.northwestern.edu.

Graduate Student Summer Research Travel Grants

Graduate students can obtain a Graduate Student Summer Research Travel Grant from the school’s Buffett Center to help pay expenses of research-related travel in the summertime. The grants can be as much as $2,500. Sixteen political science graduate students received grants to travel during the summer of 2007, the college reports. For more information visit www.bcics.northwestern.edu.

Crown Family Middle East Research Travel Award

Northwestern University awards the Crown Family Middle East Research Travel Award to graduate, as well as undergraduate, political science students to help pay for research-related travel to the Middle East.

Students interested in competing for one of these awards are required to submit a proposal with a description of the research to be done. The proposal should include a statement of the nature, objectives and anticipated result of the activity, a description of the proposed project’s significance, and the student’s plans on how the objectives are to be accomplished. Students also need to submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

The upcoming deadlines for the award are Feb. 15, 2012, and May 1, 2012. For more details on the award, visit www.bcics.northwestern.edu.

Various Other Sources

In addition to the grants offered through foundations and colleges, other financial aid sources can be found by checking online. Opportunities exist everywhere, no matter what state. Students planning to major in political science will find grant funding particularly helpful because unlike loans, grants do not need to be paid back.

Harry S. Truman Scholarship

Harry S. Truman Scholarships are awarded to college juniors planning on pursuing a career in public service, either in government or the nonprofit sector. The scholarships are in the form of a $26,000 grant. Award recipients are chosen based on their potential to be a catalyst for changes and improvements in how public institutions serve the good of the general public.

Candidates are required to have a lengthy record of campus and community service, and they must be nominated by their school. For more details, visit www.truman.gov.

Constitutional Officers Association of Georgia Scholarships

Each year, the Constitutional Officers Association of Georgia (COAG) awards two $1,000 COAG Scholarships to any Georgia high school senior who is a U.S. citizen scheduled to graduate in the spring of their academic year. Applicants have some requirements to meet in order to be eligible:

  1. Scholarship candidates must present a letter of acceptance or letter of enrollment from an accredited university, four-year college, two-year community college or technical school in Georgia.
  2. They must provide a copy of their application to provide verification of the degree field related to government or political science.
  3. Candidates must present a COAG scholarship application.
  4. They must also submit a typed 1,000 word essay with the theme of “My Interview with a Constitutional Officer of the County.”

Applicants with a GED equivalency from Dec. 31, 2011 to May 31, 2012 are also eligible. The majority of counties in Georgia have elected government officials known as constitutional officers. Applicants’ essays should address the question “Why is electing constitutional officers, versus appointing them, advantageous to the communities they serve?”

The application deadline is April 1, 2012. For more information, visit www.co.henry.ga.us.

George Watt Memorial Essay Prize

College students who are strong writers can enter the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives’ annual competitions for a George Watt Memorial Essay Prize. A $500 prize is awarded in the undergraduate as well as the graduate category. Work is judged on its originality, research quality and effectiveness of presentation. There are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Submissions must be between 3,500 and 7,500 words.
  2. All submissions must be in English.
  3. Each essay must have been written to fulfill an undergraduate or graduate course or degree requirement. On essays candidates should specify the course, degree and school. For thesis chapters, applicants should include a thesis abstract.

Students can enter the competition by submitting an essay or thesis chapter on any aspect of the Spanish Civil War, the global political or cultural fight against fascism in the 1920s and 1930s or the history and contributions of Americans who fought to support the Spanish Republic from 1936 to 1938.

The deadline to submit an essay is July 1.

Davies-Jackson Scholarship

Political science majors can get a Davies-Jackson Scholarship for financial assistance to study for two years at St. John’s College at Cambridge University. Candidates must be seniors at one of 159 eligible colleges and universities, and they must be the first college graduate in their family.

Only one recipient is chosen each year, and the scholarship pays for tuition, fees, room and board and travel to and from England during that two-year time period. Application deadline is mid-November. For more information visit www.cic.edu.

Earning a college degree is a major endeavor and can be costly for families. Fortunately, the financial opportunities to help students offset the cost of secondary education are plentiful. No doubt additional political science grants can be found through careful research.

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