Proposals will be evaluated by two faculty members from your field, and the most highly rated proposals will be awarded. Excellent proposals will justify a project and should be concise, consistent, descriptive and persuasive.

All proposal materials should be submitted in one single PDF file (except for the mentor letter of support, which will be submitted directly by the mentor). This should include the following:

Proposal Narrative

A proposal narrative describes the project and provides a rationale for conducting the work. Although a lengthy literature review is not required, previous scholarly work should be emphasized as justification of the project. The narrative should also include what the student hopes to accomplish and how this project will contribute to the field.

In the sciences and in engineering, excellent proposals will: (a) orient reviewers to the greater body of relevant literature and convey why the project is important and significant, (b) present the objectives or hypotheses for the project that are related to the previous literature, (c) include a clear and descriptive methodology section that directly shows how the project objectives and/or hypotheses will be achieved, and (d) detail expected results and their significance.

In the fields of business, arts, and humanities, excellent proposals contain a description of the idea or question that the student will be exploring, the planned approach or line of thought, and the significance of the proposed work and the contribution that it will make to business, the arts and/or humanities.

All proposals should include a rationale for why GRCO is the ideal source of funding for the project and other sources of funding that were previously or are currently being utilized towards the project.

The narrative portion of the proposal must not exceed 2,500 words (5 single-spaced pages, with 12-point font and 1″ margins, excluding references).

Proposal Timeline

A detailed timeline for the project should include all critical project events, starting with the awarding of funds at the beginning of fall semester and concluding by the reporting deadline:

  • IRB/IACUC review (if necessary);
  • A month-by-month progress tracking plan, a reporting date; and
  • A target date and location for presentation of the work.
  • If your proposal includes travel, departure and arrival dates for all air and ground travel


A GRCO proposal should include a request for equipment, supplies, participant incentives, consulting services, and research-related travel. Travel for purposes other than directly conducting research, such as attending or presenting at a conference, will NOT be funded through GRCO grants. Students interested in traveling for conferences should apply for the SGS Graduate Student Travel Award and/or the USUSA Academic Opportunity Fund in addition to or in place of a GRCO grant. Additionally, GRCO funds cannot be used for hiring personnel (e.g., undergraduate research assistants). 

All proposals must include a detailed budget (using this template) outlining where the money will be spent. All GRCO awards are a maximum of $1,000.

Curriculum Vita

All proposals must include an up-to-date CV in order to be reviewed. Review the GRCO Curriculum Vita guide prior to submitting your application.

Faculty Letter of Support

A letter of support from the applicant’s faculty mentor must accompany each GRCO proposal. Faculty will receive an automatic email prompting them for the letter when the student submits their proposal, and should email it directly to by 11:59pm on June 22 (within one week of the proposal deadline). Applicants are encouraged to request letters early to allow appropriate time for faculty to complete support letters.

The letter should:

  • Outline the qualifications of the applicant to complete the project.
  • Outline the nature of the project as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by a graduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.”
  • Provide a statement of support for the project, its feasibility, timeline, and potential educational outcomes.

Identify Project Discipline Group

Each project is assigned to faculty evaluators based on discipline group.  Many proposals fit into multiple groups; you will be asked to recommend the best discipline group for your project during the application process.

  • Arts & Humanities- Includes programs such as Music, Theater, Religious Studies, English, History, Liberal Arts, etc.
  • Business- Includes programs such as Human Resources, Science in Economics, Accounting, Financial Economics, MBA, etc.
  • Life Sciences- Includes programs such as Biology, Ecology, Watershed Sciences, Environment and Society, etc.
  • Physical Sciences- Includes programs such as Geology, Math, Physics, Dietetics, etc.
  • Engineering- Includes programs such as Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, etc.
  • Social Sciences & Education- Includes programs such as Political Science, Management, Instructional Technology, Economics and Finance, Anthropology, Psychology, etc.
In the event that evaluators are not available in your discipline category, the Office of Research will solicit additional reviewers from relevant colleges until all review panels are complete.

Proposal Evaluation

Projects will be evaluated using the following criteria:


Project ratings will make up 75% of the total score upon which funding decisions are made.

  • Significance: Does the proposal orient the project to the greater body of literature and convey why the project is important? Is it easy to follow, concise, clear, descriptive and persuasive?
  • Methodology: Is the methodology clear and descriptive? Has the author conveyed how these actions will lead to the desired result? Are there few flaws?
  • Anticipated Outcome: Has the author presented hypotheses or anticipated outcomes for the project? Have they related these to the significance statement?
  • Feasibility: Is the project well-planned, feasible, and clear? Can it be accomplished within the timeline proposed?
  • Funding rationale: Is funding for the project available within the author’s department? Has the author exhausted other sources of funding for it?


Student qualifications will make up 25% of the total score. Students are assessed by their CV and their mentor’s letter of support.

  • Experience: Experience predicts success in GRCO projects; more experience should receive higher scores. Experience can include outputs (e.g., presentations, publications) or effort (e.g., time in a lab, work on projects with faculty).
  • Mentor Support: Does the mentor make a compelling case in recommending the student(s)? Does the mentor indicate their own willingness to invest in the student’s (or students’) success?