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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

  • Preference will be given to applicants who have progressed according to their program’s expected time-to-degree.
  • 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.  
  • United States citizens, permanent residents or AB540 students.
  • Enrolled in 12 units in one of the graduate programs, GPA ≥ 3.0 and good academic standing.
  • 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 expected 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.
  • Award recipients are expected to file their dissertation by July 31 after the award period, and are expected 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.
  • Awardee information may be shared with donors, including but not limited to: name, award amount, UC Merced email address, application materials and/or summary of program/research interest.

Financial Support

  • Up to two awards will be made each academic year.
  • Recipients will receive a fellowship up to $24,003 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.
  • Research allowance up to $500, to be used within the award period, disbursed as a fellowship to the student.
  • Travel allowance up to $500, to be used within the award period, to support visits to another university for presentation of dissertation research. Disbursed 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.

Use of Funds

Funds may be used specifically for the pursuit of educational and graduate career goals.

Application Procedures

  • 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.
  • During the application process you will be able to select this fellowship among others, if it is currently open.
  • Please include the following items with your application:
    • General Statement - 1-2 pages that describe your research area(s) of interest, accomplishments to date and long-term academic goals.
    • Project Plan/Timeline - 1-2 pages that describe your academic goals that will be supported by the fellowship(s), including a plan for training and research activities for the time period of fellowship support. The plan may include professional meetings, courses, workshops, seminars, and professional development activities for pursuing an academic career.
    • For your statement and plan if applicable, write for a general academic audience, i.e. a faculty reviewer who does not necessarily have expertise in your area of research.
    • Unofficial up-to-date UCM transcript.
    • Curriculum vitae (CV)
    • Diversity Statement - (Required only for the Faculty Mentor Program and President's Dissertation Year fellowships) 1 page that describes how your academic research interests relate to issues of diversity and broaden participation in research, and/or cultural, societal or educational issues, particularly as they might benefit under-served populations. With regard to your own background, briefly discuss your path to graduate school, including any obstacles you may have overcome to complete your education, such as socio-economic or educational disadvantages.
    • One letter of recommendation from a UCM faculty member.
  • The fellowship committee will review all complete applications. Review criteria will include adherence to the fellowship guidelines, the academic qualifications of the applicant, the letter of recommendation, and the nominee's contributions to diversity. Please note, incomplete applications will not be reviewed.



* 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.