Funding Resources for Graduate Students/Postdocs

Funding Databases:

Take advantage of online funding directories available through the Penn Libraries and Career Services.

Grant Advisor Plus
Information on grant, research, and fellowship opportunities for U.S. institutions of higher education. Click on "Subscriber Pages" to search. (NOTE: only available through Penn IP addresses). The Grants Advisor is also available through Career Services online subscriptions by clicking here.
Foundation Directory

Search grants funded by foundations in detail, search foundations by area of interest, or research grantmaking organizations.

SPIN Plus is a web-based system available through PennERA (Penn's Electronic Research Administration) portal. SPIN Plus includes a searchable funding opportunities database that lists national and international government and private (foundations, associations and corporations) funding sources. Log-on here and select "find funding" at the top of the page.
Single access point for information on over 1,000 grant programs and approximately $500 billion in annual awards.

On-Campus Resources:

Career Services summer funding for internships - Many summer internships, particularly in certain fields, provide only a small stipend or do not pay at all. Frequently the internships are located in cities with a high cost of living. This means that many students are unable to take advantage of excellent positions, which are sometimes the first step on a career in a given field. Other students wish to participate in not for profit or NGO work abroad, or to do a research project, but the travel costs to get there are prohibitive.

Office of the Vice Provost for Research Funding Information

Graduate Student Center, Navigating the Grant

Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs Funding Opportunities and Resources

Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF)
Note: includes some information for graduate students, including international grants.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) Grants and Funding

Student Financial Services - Paying for a Penn Education: Graduate and Professional Students

Additional Sites for Funding Information

Assistance with Applications from Career Services

To get feedback on your funding application materials, schedule an appointment with a Graduate Student/Postdoc Career Advisor by connecting with Career Services online through Handshake, or by calling 215 898 7530.

Follow these 11 steps to increase your chances of progressing through the funding application process


Start to research opportunities early. Many applications must be submitted nearly a year before the funding would be received, and writing a good application takes time. If you want funding for a specific academic year, then the summer a year before that is a good time to do your research because applications will be due in the fall. Range widely in your research on opportunities and be creative. Review grant databases, and connect with colleagues in your department or other Penn students or alumni who may have already received awards and funding in previous years that you are also seeking. Using QuakerNet and LinkedIn to search for award names can be a helpful approach.


When you identify an opportunity, make sure that you meet all the qualifications so that you don't waste time applying for things you won't get. Reach out to grant managers directly. This is the best approach you can take to maximize your success. Part of their role is to help the right people apply for the right opportunities, and they can give you great insight in the priorities of the funding organization, and what they look for in applications. Unfortunately, you'll find that many fellowships require U.S. citizenship. If you're a foreign national and you don't offhand see any citizenship restrictions, it may be worthwhile to check with the funding agency and ask. Don't worry that you'll give them new ideas about restrictions. If they don't have citizenship requirements, they won't suddenly impose them just because you've asked.


Pick a reasonable number of applications to write. You usually want to apply for several opportunities if it's really important to you to get at least one. On the other hand, you need to balance the requirements of quantity, quality and the other demands on your time. Each application should be tailored so that you can demonstrate how you meet the requirements and focus of the granting body.


Understand the criteria for awarding funding and who will be making the decision. Many funding organizations will provide information about previous awardees and successful proposals. There's a difference between funding given primarily on the basis of a research project and funding given primarily on the basis of development of a specific candidate. If funding is based on the former criteria, applications will probably be read by scholars in the field. If on the latter, the group reviewing your application may be more mixed. This has implications for how you write your essays and proposals.


Make sure you're set with a group of people ready to recommend you. When possible have recommenders write directly to the funding organization. This is not always possible, and so you might also want to explore using a letters of recommendation service like Vitae or Interfolio.


If the funding application requires a research proposal, think through the development of a good one. There's a lot you can do cosmetically to make a good idea seem like a really exciting one. There's not much anybody can do when an idea lacks substance. Make sure you have spent enough time fully developing your ideas - get as much feedback from your academic advisors and mentors as possible.


As you write, always keep in mind that, whatever else is asked, you must also answer the implicit, "Why should we care?" question. Give a context for your research. Explain why what you are doing is important and how it relates to broader questions in your field. Give yourself plenty of time to write. Be sure specialists and non-specialists can understand what you are saying. Organize your proposal into sections.


Develop a good list of key words and use them. From reading a funding organization's material and possibly looking through lists of previous awardees (and talking to them), you can get an idea of current funding priorities.  Describe your research in the light of these priorities. This may mean that the vocabulary you use changes a bit from one application to another.


Make everything about your application perfect. Follow directions, proofread carefully (see #10 below), and provide all information requested. If you're asked for a budget, plan it carefully so that it sounds reasonable.


Get feedback. Show what you've written to faculty members, colleagues, Career Services advisors and anyone else who may be able to provide some input.


Don't get derailed by rejection. Keep applying. It's often okay to get feedback from an organization as to why your application was not successful. Any feedback you get will be very helpful in future applications for funding.