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Rackham International Research Awards

The Rackham Graduate School announces the 2021–22 Rackham International Research Awards (RIRA) to support doctoral and master’s students conducting degree-related research outside the United States and Puerto Rico. There is no preference for particular fields of study and Rackham and the International Institute aim to fund a diverse array of students and projects.

The grant is intended to defray the costs of conducting clearly defined research projects including:

  • Travel and living expenses.
  • Research-related expenses, e.g., subject fees, access to specialized data sets, purchase of archival materials or images unavailable in the United States, laboratory supplies that will be consumed in the course of the project.
  • Temporary research assistants or transcribers (Note: requests for this type of expense must include a compelling explanation of why the student cannot perform the work him or herself).
  • Purchase of laboratory or fieldwork equipment or specialized software (Note: this type of expense has special limitations).
  • Simultaneous with the conduct of the research itself, the study of a language necessary for the research that is not taught at U-M.


  • Applicants may be of any citizenship and must be in good academic standing in a Rackham degree program, with a record that shows good progress toward the degree.
  • The proposed research must be directly related to a dissertation or thesis, and may not be associated with a course or other requirement.
  • Doctoral students must reach candidacy by September 2022 and have an approved dissertation topic.
  • Students in master’s programs must be engaged in a non-course related research project required for their degree.
  • Students with external research fellowship support may apply, but must specify the additional research activities the RIRA will support and demonstrate why these are necessary for the successful completion of the research.
  • Eligible projects will take place between May 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023, and must conduct research for at least 30 days abroad.
  • Preference will be given to students who have not previously received a Rackham International Research Award. The total award amount for students who have received a prior award will be $10,000.
  • Projects must meet all requirements of the University Travel Policy and the Institutional Review Board.


The maximum award amount is $10,000. Results will be announced by mid-April 2022. This is a competitive award and fewer than 45% of applicants receive funding. The average award amount is approximately $6,500.

For students who qualify for need-based financial aid (including the child care subsidy), receipt of this Rackham award may reduce the original loan amount or subsidy. Please contact the U-M Office of Financial Aid for help evaluating your individual circumstances.

Selection Criteria

Applicants must have a very strong academic record and demonstrate outstanding scholarly and professional promise. Applicants must have the language and other skills necessary to complete the proposed research, as well as a feasible plan and timetable.

Selection Process

A faculty selection committee, coordinated by the International Institute, will review applications.

Application Process

Students must complete the International Institute Student Fellowships application, which includes:

Application Form

This includes student and project information.

One Recommendation Letter

Requested via the online application. Applicants must enter the name, department, and email address of the recommender, and then send a request via the online application system. The recommender will receive an email request and instructions for submitting the letter through a secured section of the online application system. The letter of recommendation must come from the applicant’s principal advisor (chair of the dissertation committee, if the student has an approved dissertation proposal). The writer should address the student’s record and promise for successful completion of the proposed research; the student’s capacity with language or other skills necessary for completing the proposed research; other sources of fellowship or research support the student has received; and any obstacles facing the student in securing external or internal funding for research abroad. The letter of recommendation must be submitted by the recommender before the application deadline.

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose must be single-spaced, 12pt font, and three pages maximum including any bibliography, citations, project timetable, graphics, etc. These should be written in language for non-specialists, should describe the proposed research project and discuss its rationale, objectives, design, timetable, feasibility, and methodology, as well as the projected benefits of this trip. If the applicant will be working with an established research project, a description of the organization and the activities in which he or she will be engaged must be included. Applicants should also discuss any language skills needed to conduct the proposed research.

Project Expense Information

All applicants are required to complete a project expense sheet that provides a detailed breakdown of all project expenses by location. Download the project expense sheet, complete it, and upload it as part of your application. The project expense sheet should show all anticipated costs and all other sources of support, pending and confirmed. The research budget should match the activities described in the proposal. It should explain in detail the costs associated with each of the activities (see the list of ineligible expenses below. Note that research assistance or transcription of notes or recordings will not normally be allowed unless there is a compelling explanation as to why the student cannot accomplish the task.) If the anticipated costs are greater than the amount requested, explain what other resources are already available to support the remaining expenses.

Letter of Invitation or Description of In-country Resources (required)

Applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of invitation from a faculty member at a university abroad acknowledging and supporting students’ plans or offering research oversight. This could also be a letter from an archive granting access, etc. Those without a formal in-country affiliate should submit a brief description of the in-country resources to be used and how they will be secured.

Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

U-M Transcript

An unofficial transcript is acceptable. Transcripts should be correctly rotated so that they may be read easily.

Ineligible Expenses

  • Research unrelated to the graduate program, or conducted following the completion of degree requirements.
  • Research that has already been completed, with research expenses incurred prior to the submission date.
  • U-M tuition or fees.
  • Living expenses in the United States, such as rent, childcare, and utilities.
  • Books and other materials that are available through the U-M library or inter-library loan.
  • Computers, computer equipment, cameras, or camera equipment.
  • Travel and living support for spouses, partners, or other family members accompanying the student to the research site.


The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on March 1, 2022.


After careful review of the information above, interested applicants may schedule an advising appointment, or contact or 734-936-3966 with questions.

Apply for the Rackham International Research Awards