Facing a second summer of pandemic uncertainty, Graduate Studies at The University of New Mexico is launching a new pilot initiative: The Graduate Studies Dissertation Writing Award.

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The award provides summer funding for Ph.D. or MFA graduate students in the dissertation-writing phase who served as teaching assistants during the Fall 2020-Spring 2021 academic year. The award amount is $5,000 for summer dissertation writing, with the goal of facilitating the completion of the dissertation during the following academic year. 

“Even before the pandemic, there was troubling data that pointed toward graduate student stop-out at the dissertation phase,” Dean of Graduate Studies Julie Coonrod said. “And we heard from graduate students that last summer brought more challenges. So, we’re trying to find a way to make this second pandemic summer a little more productive for graduate student success.”

Modeled on similar summer awards offered at Purdue University, the University of Kansas, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the UNM summer award was made possible by reallocating funds normally earmarked for graduate student conference and research travel.

“With nationwide travel restrictions and libraries and research centers closed, we wanted to find another way of using funds to support graduate students at the dissertation-writing stage,” Associate Dean Jesse Alemán said. “Because writing requires time, focus, and energy that students cannot often afford, especially during the summer months.”

For now, the Dissertation Writing Award is a pilot initiative primarily intended to facilitate the steady writing of the dissertation during the summer months by graduate students who spent the academic year teaching. However, Graduate Studies hopes that the first-time success of the initiative could grow it into a standing form of summer support through internal or external means.

The deadline for the submission of an application is Monday, April 26, at 5 p.m. For more information, including the application guidelines and eligibility requirements, go to the website.