The College of Agricultural Sciences Graduate Student Competitive Grant Program is sponsored by the College of Agricultural Science’s Office for Research and Graduate Education. This program is a unique opportunity available to graduate students advised by College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) faculty. The program serves as professional development for all CAS graduate students by providing real-life grant writing and budget building experience to seek funds to support master or doctoral research. It is anticipated that up to $40,000 will be awarded during this funding cycle.


  • All applicants must be advised by CAS faculty, be full-time resident students, and can include students enrolled in college and intercollege programs.
  • All applicants submitting proposals for the 2024/2025 fiscal year are highly encouraged to attend the Competitive Grants Program presentation scheduled on Thursday, September 5 from 1:30-3 pm in 106 AVBS Building or see links below under Related Information.
  • Master students can be in their first or second semester (or later) of their graduate degree program and may not have received a previous CAS Graduate Student Competitive Grant.
  • Doctoral students must have successfully completed their “qualifying exam.” If they have received a CAS Graduate Student Competitive Grant previously as a Doctoral student, they are not eligible to receive a second one. You may apply for a grant as a Doctoral student, even if you received one as an MS student.

Due Dates and Funding Decisions

To start the process of scheduling a meeting, creating your cover page, and developing your budget with the Office of Grants and Contracts, please complete a NOTICE OF INTENT (NOI) no later than Thursday, September 19. Instructions and details to assist in completing this important step will be addressed during the workshop and subsequent recording.

Initial budget meeting with the Office of Grants and Contracts by Thursday, October 3, 2024. 

Budget/budget justification completed and signed-off by the Office of Grants and Contracts by Thursday, October 10, 2024.

Applications will be submitted via Penn State’s InfoReady system. The complete application must be submitted by Thursday, October 17, 2024 at 11:59 pm, to be considered. Only complete applications that are received by the deadline date will be considered and evaluated. Please plan accordingly as the submission system will go offline after the deadline has passed.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of CAS faculty and postdocs. Decisions will be made in late November and announced in early December.

Submission Process through InfoReady

Complete application packages will consist of the following required fields in InfoReady:

Personal Details: Including information for both the applicant, program, and advisor.

Proposal Details: Including Title and Abstract. The abstract is limited to approximately 200 words. This will be used for outreach purposes and should be written clearly so that it is understandable to a layperson. If selected for funding, this abstract will be uploaded to the CAS Research and Graduate Education website.

Uploaded Files: All files must be uploaded as a pdf.

  • Cover Page: This page will be developed by the Office of Grants and Contracts, but signatures will be required. Once completed, review the document to be certain that all certifications are complete and all required signatures have been obtained.
  • Proposal: Limit the body of the proposal to four (4) pages (excluding references) and number your proposal pages. Use a typeface at a font size of 11 point or larger, line spacing of single or 1.5 lines, and one or 0.5 inch margins for ease in online readability. All graphs and images will be considered part of the four-page proposal.

    The following headings must be included, in order, in the proposal:
    Project Rationale: Introduce the research problem.
    Background Information: Selective review of literature of the research problem.
    Description of Proposed Research: Include research questions and methodology.
    Impact of Research: Discuss the contribution that the research will make to societal issues.
  • Budget and Budget Justification: Must be developed in consultation with the Office of Grants and Contracts after the Notice of Intent (NOI) is submitted (see Due Date section above). The maximum budget for a Masters award is $2,000 and a Doctoral award is $3,000. Expenditures can include, but are not limited to lab supplies, wage payroll, animal care costs, DNA sequencing, analysis of soil samples, travel to research sites, and software for data analysis. Graduate student stipend, tuition, and travel to attend scientific meetings are unallowable expenses.

    Justification should include a narrative paragraph(s) explaining briefly the rationale for each budget item requested.

    Awarded funds will be effective on award notice and must be expended by June 30, 2025.
  • Curriculum Vita (CV): A two-page maximum CV of applicant.

Review Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Clarity of hypothesis or statement of problem
  • Background information that frames the context of the proposal
  • Whether the procedures/methodology addresses the objectives of the proposal
  • Clarity of expression - writing style and proposal organization


If you have questions about the application process, please contact

Related Information

A recording of the Graduate Student Competitive Grants Workshop will be viewable after September 5, 2024.

Presentations by Assistant Dean for Graduate Education and the Director of Grants and Contracts are now available.