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Student-Identified Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowships

Rackham’s Student-Identified Doctoral Intern Fellowships allow doctoral students to apply for funding to support an internship they have secured. Students may complete an internship at an organization regardless of whether or not the organization has a formal internship program, as long as the internship meets the requirements below.

Selection Criteria

This rubric is intended to clarify how the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowships Program (RDIFP) team reviews and selects students for funding on the student-identified internships track.

Writing Cover Letters and Resumes

For suggestions on writing cover letters and resumes, please visit the University Career Center, VersatilePhD, ImaginePhD, or this resource from our colleagues at Harvard’s Office of Career Services.

Application Deadlines

Students may apply for funding for the fall term, winter term, and spring/summer terms. Eligibility criteria vary by term. Please read the guidelines on this page carefully before applying to ensure your eligibility. For students who receive fall 2024 internship offers after May 1, Rackham has a grace period that will last until July 15.

Spring/Summer 2024 Internships: March 8

Fall 2024 Internships: May 1 and July 15

Winter 2025 Internships: October 28

Eligibility Requirements and Funding Information

Doctoral students who wish to receive Rackham funding for an internship they have secured must meet the general eligibility criteria for the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Program below. Please read carefully, as the eligibility varies by term.

The exact level of Rackham funding will depend on what support the internship site offers, but in general, students can receive up to the equivalent of a one-term fellowship package, including candidacy tuition and fees, GradCare, full stipend at the current Rackham fellowship rates, and relocation expenses of up to $1,000 (when applicable).

Only doctoral students enrolled in Rackham programs of study are eligible to receive funding. Please check your eligibility before applying.

Student Eligibility for All Terms

  1. Students must be in good academic standing. Students on academic probation or on a leave of absence are ineligible.
  2. Students must obtain approval from their director of graduate studies (DGS) or primary advisor to apply (done through the application portal—see instructions below).
  3. International students may participate in this experiential learning program but will need appropriate work authorization to do so. For internships off-campus, international students should consult with the International Center to discuss what work authorization and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) course enrollment may be needed in order to participate in an internship well in advance of applying. Rackham views internships as experiential learning opportunities important to doctoral students’ academic and professional development as scholars, and Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowships must be relevant to the student’s program of study and career goals. No additional work authorization is typically required for on-campus internship sites, but if international students hold other on-campus positions while completing an internship, they may still need CPT.
  4. A student may only receive one Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship of any kind during their course of study at U-M. This includes RDIFs with host organizations and Student-Identified intern fellowships.
  5. Students may only be funded for the same internship for one academic term (fall, winter, or spring/summer). Co-op experiences lasting longer than 12 weeks or one academic term are only eligible for up to one term of support from the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Program.
  6. Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship awardees are expected to be fully engaged in their internship and making academic progress (e.g., coursework, research). Therefore, a fellow may not accept supplemental employment involving more than 10 hours of work each week while receiving RDIF support. Students may not hold additional graduate student instructor (GSI), graduate student research assistant (GSRA), or graduate student staff assistant (GSSA) positions greater than a .25 appointment during the same term as an RDIF. Students holding other fellowships during the same term as a Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship must comply with Rackham’s Additional Funding in Excess of Stipend Policy (Section IV).
  7. Students with other fellowships providing stipend support should consult with their department and Rackham to discuss deferring other support to a future date if they are awarded a Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship. Students may have other sources of support not intended as fellowship stipends (i.e. travel support, research grants, emergency fund awards).
  8. Students must be doctoral students who have completed at least two academic terms.
  9. As with other Rackham fellowships, a fellow may not accept supplemental employment involving more than 10 hours of work each week while receiving RDIF support.

Internship Scope

A student-identified doctoral internship must:

  1. be conducted at a non-academic site. Eligible internship host-sites include for-profit companies, start-up companies, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, museums, learning centers, and policy think tanks. Internships at universities may be eligible if the position is in a non-academic unit and is supervised by a staff member outside the professoriate.
  2. be a minimum of 14 weeks for 20 hours per week or the equivalent 280 hours during one academic term.
  3. include substantive opportunities to broaden and extend beyond the student’s academic experience and research.
  4. offer significant opportunities for developing career readiness and professional preparation that include experience with specific competency areas such as advanced skill development, research collaboration, communication, leadership, management, and policy.
  5. enable the student to develop new networks of professionals and knowledge of allied businesses, organizations, agencies, and institutions that can support further career development.
  6. involve ongoing mentoring to enrich, inform, and advance the internship experience and career preparation of the doctoral student.
  7. not be meant to financially support a traditional research assistantship or GSRA position, but include additional professional and career development components.
  8. not have a faculty (including clinical faculty, lecturers, etc.) supervisor, but rather must have a supervisor working in a staff role beyond the professoriate.
  9. not be undertaken at an organization where the student’s Ph.D. advisor, dissertation committee members, or other U-M faculty members have a financial interest, conflict of interest, and/or a formal research collaboration relationship.
  10. not be at an entirely volunteer-run organization.

Note for on-campus internships: If your application is for an internship within a campus unit at the University of Michigan, a minimum cost share of $2,500 is required by the campus unit to be eligible and should be identified in your internship offer letter. If you are selected for an RDIF, Rackham will work with the U-M unit directly to transfer the funds to your award.

Students selected for a Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship must:

  1. complete reflection prompts assigned by Rackham staff three times during the semester during which funding is awarded.
  2. attend an orientation session facilitated by Rackham staff in advance of their internship.
  3. have the option to join monthly online professional development meetings with other Rackham students who have Doctoral Intern Fellowships during the same semester.

Fall and Winter Terms:

  • Only students who have achieved doctoral candidacy are eligible to apply.

Spring/Summer Term:

  • Doctoral pre-candidates and candidates are eligible.
  • Tuition support is not provided during spring/summer.

Students with questions about the criteria and guidelines should contact Rackham’s Professional Development and Engagement team.

Funding Options

Please read the application instructions carefully. Please note that students who qualify for need-based financial aid (including the child care subsidy) and receive additional Rackham funding may be subject to a reduction in the original loan amounts or subsidy. Contact the U-M Office of Financial Aid for help evaluating your individual circumstances. Applicants can apply for any combination of internship support awards:

Full Fellowship Support

Students who have secured an unpaid internship are eligible to apply for the full fellowship support. This includes an award of the current Rackham stipend rate, tuition waiver, and GradCare.

Partial Fellowship Support

Students who have secured an internship that is offering a stipend below the current Rackham stipend rate are eligible for a partial fellowship. This includes a partial fellowship award up to the current Rackham stipend rate, tuition waiver, and GradCare.

Tuition Support

Students who have secured an internship that is offering a stipend above the current Rackham stipend rate are eligible for the tuition support option. This does not include an additional award from Rackham.

GradCare Support

Students who have secured an internship that is funded except for health insurance may apply for GradCare coverage for the term during which they are completing an internship.

Relocation Support

Students participating in an internship that requires relocating can apply for up to $1,000 in relocation support. Students participating in internships that require them to travel internationally can request up to $3,000 in relocation support. Please note: priority for relocation support is given to students not receiving other relocation support from their internship organization.

Application Materials

Students must apply through the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Application Portal, where they must submit the required documentation outlined below:

  1. A detailed description of the internship project, including its scope and anticipated deliverables. Internships must be distinct from traditional research assistantships or temporary research appointments.
  2. A narrative describing the rationale for the internship, how it relates to the student’s research, scholarship, or fields of interest, as well as the specific ways in which the internship will enhance the student’s career goals and develop transferable skills. Please discuss any previous participation in other career exploration programs.
  3. A detailed resume, including any experience relevant for the internship.
  4. Contact information for the staff member who will serve as your supervisor at the internship site.
  5. An offer letter from the internship site, confirming the internship position, the purpose and scope of the position, duration of the position, and any stipend, salary, or hourly wage that would come with the position . A copy of an offer letter from the internship site is sufficient.
  6. Departmental approval: your primary dissertation advisor or DGS must complete an authorization form indicating your eligibility to participate in the program and complete an internship. Students can request the authorization form be sent to the appropriate signer on the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Program Application Portal. Applications without departmental authorization will not be considered.
  7. Supporting documentation if requesting relocation funds (transportation estimates, housing estimates, etc.)


If you are applying for funding but have not received final details from your internship site, please submit as much information as you are able (e.g. email correspondence from the internship site indicating your acceptance).

Review of Proposals

Funding is limited and competitive. Applications will be reviewed, evaluated, and awarded once per semester until available funds are expended. It may take up to four weeks after the deadline for notifications of awards.

Contact Professional and Academic Development

1530 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 734.647.4013
Fax: 734.936.2848


Professional and Academic Development is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.