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Presidential Dissertation Completion & Extension Awards

Background:

Since arriving last summer, President McInnis has been deeply committed to improving the lived experience and career prospects of Stony Brook’s doctoral students.  In order to ensure our programs can optimally focus on their doctoral students--to become, in short, more student centered--she has been making critical investments in the ways we support our students, both materially and intellectually. One area of urgent attention is the category of students who have found their ability to finish their degrees impeded by circumstances beyond their control.   
 
Approximately 40% of our doctoral programs have 50% or more of students who are past year 6 in their progress to completion. In raw numbers, that means well over 200 students. Compounding this are the delays in progress to degree as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic-by our most recent estimates affecting about 40% of our doctoral students.  President McInnis has asked us to address the costs to students in their delay in moving forward with their careers.  She has provided $1 million to be used for this purpose, which would help students and programs to finish their work and assure they are productively embarking on their careers.  

The Awards:

Presidential Dissertation Completion Fellowships

A dissertation completion fellowship would provide one or two semesters of stipend support for an advanced doctoral or MFA student who has experienced a delay in their degree progress due to circumstances or challenges beyond their control. To be eligible, students must establish that they do not have another source of stipend support for the requested semester(s). The fellowship would allow the student to complete their degree requirements without adding any additional service or teaching duties. Successful applications will demonstrate solid achievement and steady pre-pandemic progress to degree, compelling need for additional support, and a viable plan and potential for degree completion by the end of the funded period. 

Applications are now closed and award decisions will be announced by October 2021.

Fall 2021 Call for Applications

Tips for Presidential Dissertation Completion Fellowship Applicants

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Presidential Critical Research Funds

Critical Research Funds would provide funding for necessary thesis research expenses up to $5000 for advanced doctoral or MFA students who have experienced a delay in their degree progress due to circumstances or challenges beyond their control. To be eligible, students must establish that they do not have another source of funding for the requested expenses. Allowable expenses include travel, equipment or supplies necessary for a student to complete their dissertation or thesis work. Successful applications will demonstrate solid achievement and steady pre-pandemic progress to degree, compelling need and justification for requested funds, and a viable plan and potential for degree completion if awarded the funds. 

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Presidential Postdoctoral Extension Awards

A postdoctoral extension award would provide up to six months of funding and appointment as an SBU postdoctoral scholar for doctoral students who opt to graduate "early." The goal is to incentivize students who are “on time” to consider graduating on time or earlier and using the six-month postdoc extension to finish up their thesis projects, publish and secure a position in a depressed job market, all while maintaining their SBU affiliation and access to campus resources.  To be eligible, doctoral students must be within the median time-to-degree for their discipline as determined by benchmarking with our peer institutions (see call for eligibility criteria). Successful applications will demonstrate outstanding achievement, steady progress to degree, a feasible plan for completing degree requirements by the target graduation date, a compelling narrative for how this award would help the student advance their career goals, and a detailed timeline of activities for advancing scholarship and career development goals during the six-month funding period after graduation. 

Applications are now closed and award decisions will be announced by October 2021.

Fall 2021 Call for Applications

Postdoc Award Time To Degree Benchmarks

Jump to FAQ

 


Frequently Asked Questions: 

Jump to Frequently Asked Questions on: 

DISSERTATION COMPLETION FELLOWSHIPS FAQ


Does a student need to be delayed in their degree progress to be eligible for a Presidential Dissertation Completion Fellowship? 
Yes, applicants need to make a compelling argument in their statement of need that the student is delayed due to circumstances or challenges beyond their control and that the student has a justifiable need for funding in order to overcome those delays. 


Is a completion fellowship application more likely to be successful if it asks for only one semester of support instead of two? 
No. Applicants are encouraged to ask for the duration of funding that can best enable the student to graduate by the end of the funded period. The need for one vs. two semesters should be explicitly addressed and justified in the statement of need.


If a student needs support in both Spring 2022 and Summer 2022, can we request both?
Yes. Applicants are encouraged to ask for the duration of funding that can best enable the student to graduate by the end of the funded period, but no later than August 2022.


Will Summer 2022 Fellowship recipients also receive a Tuition and Fee Scholarship for summer session?
No. Summer fellows are expected to enroll for zero credits, and therefore should incur no tuition liability. 


Can a student apply for both a Presidential Dissertation Completion Fellowship and a Presidential Postdoctoral Extension Award? 
No. The eligibility criteria make the two awards incompatible. A student must be delayed to be eligible for the Completion Fellowship, whereas a student must be on time or early in their degree progress to be eligible for the Postdoc Award


Does a student need to be nominated by their graduate program to apply for this award?
No. Applications are welcomed directly from eligible students .

What is my thesis advisor’s role in my application?
The application should be the student’s work. But the letter of support must come from the thesis advisor and should affirm that the advisor has reviewed the application and supports it.


Can other file formats be submitted as dissertation/thesis progress, such as video or audio?

Yes, if appropriate to the student's discipline, video or audio files may be uploaded to demonstrate progress to date. Individual files must be 100MB or less.

On the funding history, how much detail is needed? If grant funded, does it need the whole grant amount and description?
The funding history should describe source of funding for each of the student's past graduate years so that the committee can understand the overall narrative of how the student has been supported and why funded is needed now (e.g., grant ran out, no TA support available, etc). If the student was the PI on a fellowship or small grant, include the source and amount in the relevant year. If the student was supported on a grant, just indicate it was a research grant, the source of the grant, and the amount of the  RA stipend that supported the student (e.g., NASA grant, full-year RA stipend, $34k). If it was TA support, indicate that and whether it was full time or partial support. External job details aren't necessary

Can a published journal article be submitted as a dissertation chapter?
If a published paper will literally feature as Chapter X in the dissertation document submitted to one's committee and this is supported in the chapter breakdown in the dissertation abstract/summary, then yes.

I am currently finishing up X requirement to advance to candidacy. Am I eligible?
Students must be advanced to candidacy at the time of application and be close to graduation. The workplan needs to justify that the student can graduate by the end of the semester(s) requested for funding, and no later than August 2022.

CRITICAL RESEARCH FUNDS FAQ

Will there be another call for Critical Research Funds? 
No. The one competition for these funds is now completed.

POSTDOCTORAL EXTENSION AWARDS FAQ


Has a call for applications been released yet for the Presidential Postdoctoral Extension Awards? 
YES. See the call for applications posted above.


Is the purpose of the Presidential Postdoctoral Extension Awards to support students who are delayed in their degree progress?
No. The extension awards are only for doctoral students who are completing their dissertation work within the median time-to-degree for their discipline, as determined by data for public AAU peer universities. The goal is to incentivize students who are “on time” to consider graduating on time or earlier and using the six-month postdoc extension to finish up their thesis projects, publish and obtain a job. The definition of "on time" and how to determine a student's eligibility is in the call for applications. 

Can a student apply for both a Presidential Dissertation Completion Fellowship and a Presidential Postdoctoral Extension Award? 
No. The eligibility criteria make the two awards incompatible. A student must be delayed to be eligible for the Completion Fellowship, whereas a student must be on time or early in their degree progress to be eligible for the Postdoc Award.

How do I know if I’m within median time-to-degree for my discipline? 
In the Time To Degree Benchmarks table, each graduate program has a designated benchmark number for Time-to-Degree (TTD) for this competition that is based on national benchmarks (and rounded up to the next higher round number). A student’s TTD will be calculated in calendar years from the first day of their first admitted semester as a G3 in their graduation program (and if a student was never a G3, the first day of the first semester as a G4) to commencement day of the projected graduation semester. Any leaves of absence should be included in this total duration. 

To calculate, take this total number of days, divide by 365; this number must be less than or equal to the benchmark number in the TTD table for your graduate program.

For example, a student enrolled at SBU as a first-time PhD student in Ecology & Evolution in Fall 2017, which started August 28, 2017 ( see other years’ Day 1 Snapshot dates). The student plans to graduate from Ecology & Evolution in Spring 2022, where commencement falls on May 20, 2022. Therefore, this student’s time-to-degree (TTD) for this competition would be calculated like so (where 1 calendar year=365 days):

 365 days (Yr 1 starting Aug 28, ‘17) +

 365 days (Yr 2 starting Aug 28, ‘18 ) +

 365 days (Yr 3 starting Aug 28, ‘19, ignoring the leapyear) +   

 365 days (Yr 4 starting Aug 28, ‘20) +

 266 days (Yr 5, Aug 28, ‘21 through May 20, ‘22) = 1726 days

Dividing 1726 by 365, gives TTD of 4.73 years. 

Since this TTD of 4.73 is less than the benchmark 6 years for Ecology & Evolution, this student would be eligible to apply with their target graduation of Spring 2022.


I took a leave of absence for a year. Do I include this year in my Time to Degree calculation?
Yes, Time to Degree for this competition is calculated as total elapsed time in calendar years from first enrollment in the program of graduation, including any leaves of absence.


I was originally admitted into a different program than the one I am graduating from. Do I include the time I was enrolled in the first program? 
No. For this competition, you should start counting from the first semester you were enrolled in the PhD program from which you will graduate.


When are these postdoc appointments expected to start? 
Selected awardees are expected to start the postdoc appointment within the month following graduation. The student’s semester of graduation must match with the timeline indicated in the application and any award is contingent upon completion of degree requirements and a letter from the program indicating all requirements are fulfilled. We encourage any international student applicants to take into account the timeline for obtaining work authorization such as through OPT. 


What if I can’t receive my OPT work authorization in time to start the postdoc within a month of graduation?  
We encourage any international student applicants to take into account the timeline for obtaining work authorization. According to Visa and Immigration Services (VIS), USCIS currently takes about 4-6 months for post-completion OPT adjudication. Exceptions to the one-month time frame for starting the postdoc appointment may be considered on a case-by-case basis for any awardees who encounter delays despite making a good faith effort to obtain these authorizations. All immigration questions should be directed to your VIS advisor. 


What if I am selected for this award but then find my graduation date is delayed?
Receipt of this award is contingent upon completion of all graduation requirements by the end of the graduation semester proposed in the awardee’s application. No exceptions will be made and so an awardee whose graduation is delayed to a later semester will forfeit the award.


Are selected awardees appointed as employees or fellows?
 
Selected awardees will be appointed as full-time, temporary State of NY employees, with State benefits, such as health, vision and dental insurance. Visit SBU's WHY WORK HERE page to learn about the total State benefits offered with this position.

 

Further Questions? 

Contact us at fellowships@stonybrook.edu.