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Presidential Dissertation Completion & Extension Awards


Since her arrival at SBU, 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. 

Applicants should carefully read and follow all detailed instructions. Applications that do not comply with the call for applications may not be reviewed.

Spring 2022 Call for Applications

Tips for 2022 Dissertation Completion Applicants

Application Form 2022 Question Preview

Award notifications will be made by early May 2022.

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Presidential Critical Research Funds

Critical Research Funds have provided 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. 

No further awards will be made in this category.

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Presidential Postdoctoral Extension Awards

A postdoctoral extension award have provided 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.  

No further awards will be made in this category.

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Frequently Asked Questions: 

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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.

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 2023.


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


Will there be another call for Postdoctoral Extension Awards? 
No. The one competition for these funds is now completed.


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