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 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 2019/2020 fiscal year must have attended the Fall 2018 Workshop OR the upcoming Workshop scheduled for Monday, September 30, 2019 in 252 Erickson Food Science. To confirm eligibility, send email to
  • Master students must be at least in their third semester 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" indicating that they are officially a doctoral candidate and may not have received a CAS Graduate Student Competitive Grant while in their PhD studies.

Due Dates and Funding Decisions

Electronically provide (in one pdf file) an approved application package to, by 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 31, 2019. Only complete applications that are received by the deadline date will be considered and evaluated. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of CAS faculty and postdocs. Decisions will be made in late November and announced in early December.

Application Package

Application packages should include the following items, in order, as one pdf file to

I. Cover Page: Review document to be certain that all certifications are complete and all required signatures have been obtained. This page will be developed by the Grants and Contracts Office, but signatures will be required.

II. Abstract: Limited to approximately 200 words. Use a separate sheet from body of proposal. 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.

III. Proposal: Limit the body of the proposal to four pages and number your proposal pages and use 12-point Times Roman font. All graphs and images will be considered part of the four-page proposal. Cover page, Abstract, Citations, Budget, Budget Justification, and Curriculum Vita are not part of the four-page limit.

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.

IV. Budget: Must be developed in consultation with the CAS Grants and Contracts Office in 107 Ag Admin Building. To schedule a meeting to discuss and prepare your budget, please contact Sue Rossman ( no later than Thursday, October 10, 2019.

The maximum budget for a Masters award is $2,000 and 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. Travel to attend scientific meetings is an unallowable expense.

Awarded funds will be available by December 1 and must be expended by June 30, 2020; no extensions will be granted. Requests to re-budget funds must be made in advance by sending an email to

V. Budget Justification: Include as a separate page, a narrative paragraph(s) explaining briefly the rationale for each budget item requested.

VI. Curriculum Vita (CV): Two-page maximum.

Review Criteria

Proposals are 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 address the objectives of the proposal
  • Clarity of expression - writing style and proposal organization


If you have questions about the application process, please contact


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Office of Research and Graduate Education


217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

Office of Research and Graduate Education


217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802