Graduate School

External Funding

External awards are prestigious and a valuable acknowledgement of intellectual pursuit and promise.

Writing a fellowship proposal can clarify your thinking about your research and improve your ability to communicate its essence and potential impact, and the competition can expose you to valuable feedback. Receiving a competitive external fellowship is an honor that stays with you throughout your career and can improve your professional prospects.

Advanced Status

While external funding typically does not affect a student’s funding clock, students in the Humanities and Social Sciences receiving funding from outside of the university who would like to pause their funding clock may be eligible for Advanced Status. This option should be reviewed closely with their Director of Graduate Study (DGS) and the Graduate School.

Finding External Funding

Grant Finding Guide

The Graduate School collaborates with the University Library and other University partners to maintain a Grant Finding Guide with links to a variety of external funding opportunities across all divisions and stages of graduate study.

  • Includes a section with tips and suggestions specifically for international students.
  • Includes access to subscription services, such as SPIN, a database of opportunities from federal, governmental, international, private and corporate funders.
  • This Guide should be one of your first stops in looking for funding opportunities. 

Explore the Grant Finding Guide


Master’s and doctoral students are encouraged to work with their programs and advisors in preparing their applications. The offices below offer some support for students applying to external fellowships, particularly for fellowships which only allow a limited number of applicants from Brown in each application cycle:

Institutional Endorsement

The Graduate School also works directly with students who are pursuing external fellowships which require institutional endorsement. These include:

Additional Opportunities

Look at the Graduate School's newsletter and social media accounts (primarily Twitter), where we post notices of fellowship opportunities.

Steps for Students with External Funding

Students who have received external funding should promptly forward a copy of their award letter and any supporting documentation to both the Graduate School (at and their Program Administrator. The award letter and supporting documentation must:

  • Be in English or be accompanied by an English translation.
  • Include the total amount of funding.
  • Indicate the start and end dates of funding.
  • Specify if funding will be paid directly to the student or through Brown University.

Steps for Program Administrators

  • Confirm that the external funding documentation meets the requirements above and that the student has provided the documentation to the Graduate School.
  • Review with the Graduate School if the student will be receiving top-up funding or an incentive payment (see Incentive Program for Doctoral Students and the Incentive Policy Examples). 
  • Update the student’s appointment in GSIM to reflect the external funding and any incentive payments (contact with any questions).

Other Resources for External Funding

SPIN+ (via InfoEd) is a database available through the Office of Sponsored Projects. It provides a broad range of funding opportunities from federal, governmental, international, private and corporate funders.
The Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) is a resource for students, postdocs, faculty and other Brown grant-seekers, providing assistance with proposal preparation, electronic grants management systems and the acceptance of funding agreements.
The Graduate School incentive program aims to encourage graduate students to independently seek external funding. The policy described applies to externally funded fellowships active on or after July 1, 2016, replacing earlier versions of the policy.

Additional Information