Write a Great Proposal

You can learn to write a great proposal by following a few basic guidelines.

1) Find the right opportunity. A good match between a funder and applicant is a key part of a successful application. When you find an opportunity that looks good ask:

  1.  Am I eligible?
  2. What is the funder’s mission and does my work fit into it?
  3. Who else has this funder supported?

2) Immerse yourself in successful proposals. Read, read, and read some more. Proposal writing is an art–confident, self-assured, and most of all persuasive. You can learn this by reading the successful (and unsuccessful!) proposals of other graduate students.

Click here to View Winning Proposals from UI Students!

3) Write multiple drafts. The most successful applicants have spent time writing and revising drafts of their application materials. Start this process early (3-4 months for a large Fellowship, earlier if your work is International) to give your draft time to develop.

4) Get readers! Ask your advisor, mentor, partner, parent…reader feedback is an essential part of the process. Get readers inside and outside of your discipline. Need an educated generalist to read for you? Contact Jennifer to make a personal proposal review appointment. dsp-gradgrants@uiowa.edu 

Online Guides to Help with Proposal Writing

NSF Specific: Dissertation Improvement Grant advice or GRFP help from Jennifer Wang, Robin Walker, Alex Lang, and Rachel Smith.

NIH Specific: F30 and F31 help

Social Sciences and Humanities: The Art of Writing Proposals

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Proposal Guide


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