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President's Dissertation Year Fellowship

The President’s Dissertation Year (PDY) Fellowship program is intended for students in their final year of graduate school who are planning to pursue teaching and research appointments soon after the end of their dissertation fellowship year.  This award is intended to assist outstanding graduate students who will contribute to the diversity of the campus community with the completion of their dissertation. This award should also enhance their qualifications as candidates for university faculty teaching and research appointments.

Eligibility Requirements & Standards

  • The program is open to all doctoral candidates who are advanced to candidacy at the time of completing their application, and who are in their final year of graduate study during the award period.  
  • PDY Fellowship applicants must be United States citizens, permanent residents or AB540 students.
  • All applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their graduate studies at UC Merced, and be enrolled full-time during the award period.
  • A student who has previously received a dissertation fellowship, or has received funding from other sources specifically for completing their dissertation work, is ineligible to receive a dissertation fellowship.
  • PDY fellows are required to present a seminar on their dissertation research twice during the program year: once at an appropriate school/group function at UC Merced and once at a UC, CSU, or independent California university.  Mentors are expected to assist the fellow in the arrangement of such presentations.
  • PDY fellows and their faculty mentors are invited to participate in a regional professional development meeting, hosted by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP).  Eligible travel expenses to the meeting only for the PDY fellows will be covered.
  • UCOP requires the Graduate Division to monitor/track the progress and eventual job placement of all system-wide diversity fellowship recipients.  Faculty, staff and students participating in this fellowship must comply with all requests for information from the Graduate Division.
  • Preference will be given to applicants who have progressed according to their program’s expected time-to-degree.
  • Award recipients are expected to file their dissertation by July 31 after the award period, and will be required to submit a report of their progress towards dissertation completion to the Graduate Division by January 31 during the award period.
  • Dissertation Year Fellows who have not filed their dissertations by July 31 of the end of the award year are NOT eligible for further financial support from the Graduate Division.
  • Fellows are prohibited from being employed during the award period.
  • The University of California, Merced is committed to the recruitment, admission, and retention of a high quality and diverse graduate student population, where diversity encompasses under-represented groups based on cultural, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Both students and faculty mentors are expected to participate in Graduate Division diversity activities and efforts. In accordance with applicable state law, applicants to the program may not be given preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion or national origin.

Financial Support

  • Up to two awards will be made each academic year.
  • Recipients will receive a fellowship up to $20,700, paid over a 9-month academic year period, plus payment of Graduate Fees (Resident Tuition, Student Services Fee and Health Services Fee), excluding Campus Based Fees.
  • Reimbursable research allowance up to $500, to be used within the award period, reimbursed as a fellowship to the student.
  • Reimbursable travel allowance up to $500, to be used within the award period, to support visits to another university for presentation of dissertation research. Reimbursed as a fellowship to the student.

Student Loan Impact

  • Per federal guidelines, all fellowship and tuition support is taken into consideration when determining student loan eligibility.  If you will receive federal student loans during the same academic year as this award, please note that this award could, and most likely will, reduce your student loan eligibility.

Application Procedures

  • This application is open to all students who meet the eligibility criteria. Faculty advisors are encouraged to invite eligible students to apply on the basis of academic merit as well as contribution to program and campus diversity.
  • Apply by completing an online application.  Please note, the fellowship application is built within the admissions system, so you might see some items that reference admissions.  Please include the following items with your application:
    • Curriculum vitae (CV)
    • Unofficial UCM transcript, including current semester.
    • Dissertation Prospectus (maximum 4 pages, double-spaced) - Prospectus should be written for a general academic audience, i.e. a faculty reviewer who does not necessarily have expertise in the specific area of study.
    • Timeline - A timeline of expected progress for completion of the dissertation, plus a statement of intent regarding the applicant’s career goals after receiving the doctoral degree.  The statement should also address situations or conditions which impeded the student’s advancement in their graduate studies, such as the absence of a family member who attended college; matriculation at a school or schools with poor financial or curricular support; having a physical or learning disability; or having worked long hours while attending school.  The statement should also address the applicant’s research interests and doctoral degree as they relate to cultural, societal or educational problems, particularly with respect to educationally disadvantaged segments of society.  The statement should be written for faculty members from all disciplines.
    • Estimated Financial Resources - 1 page list of estimated financial resources known to the applicant during the award term.  This includes, but is not limited to, savings/checking account estimated balance, stocks/bonds estimated balance, and any real estate investments.  Also include a list of known or estimated financial obligations.
    • Letters of Recommendation - Faculty advisor name and email must be provided under the Letters of Recommendation tab on the online application form.  Advisors will receive an email request for a letter of support for the applicant.  Please note that the letter of support will go to the Graduate Division and the Graduate Council (GC), and will not be visible to the applicant.  The letter of support should include an assessment of the candidate’s merits in comparison with other students at the same stage in their graduate careers.  Comments should include such indicators as the student’s demonstrated academic and scholarly competence, the length of time from the first quarter of enrollment to advancement to candidacy, and feasibility of completing the dissertation within the award year. 

* Graduate Division reserves the right not to make an award in any given year for which a call for applications/nominations has been issued.



See the Internal Fellowships for current deadlines associated with this fellowship.



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Doris Perez
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Kristen Valentine
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 Chia Xiong


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Trevor Jackson
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Dan Landayan
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Marieka Arksey
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Chanita Intawan
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Erin Roby
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Jose Amaral

Holly Swift
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Otto Alvarez
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Drew Glaser
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Andrea Rodarte


Stephanie Huette
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Carlos Bazua Morales
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Beth Hernandez-Jason
World Cultures