Dean's Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship

The deadline for the spring 2017 Dean's Competitive Fund competition has passed.  Applicants will be notified of award status in May.

The Dean’s Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship is a targeted program that provides funding in the following categories:

  1. Bridge funding, to allow faculty to continue work on previously funded research that does not currently have external funding. Faculty who apply in this category should demonstrate that efforts have been made or will be made to obtain new external funding.
  2. Seed funding, to encourage faculty to pursue exciting new research directions that might not yet be ready to compete in traditional funding programs. 
  3. Enabling subventions, to provide small funds to purchase (or upgrade) critical equipment or for travel.  Applicants for such funds must have no existing startup funds on which they could draw for this purpose.

Please apply only if your funding needs fit into one of these categories.

Project budgets of $5,000-$50,000 may be requested, though it should be noted that most funded awards will receive well below the award ceiling.


  • This program is open to FAS and SEAS assistant, associate and tenured faculty. Professors-in-residence and Professors of the Practice are also eligible. 
  • Faculty at other Harvard schools with no more than a zero FTE in the FAS/SEAS are not eligible for this program.
  • Faculty may only submit one application per semester.


Proposals will be read by a committee made up of faculty from the three FAS divisions and SEAS, so please ensure that your proposal makes sense to someone outside of your discipline.  Applicants will be asked to provide the following:

  1. Contact information
  2. Information on any external funding you have applied for or intend to apply for to support the proposed project
  3. If you received funding from this program this funding in the past, you will be asked to describe how you used the funds.
  4. One paragraph explaining why this funding source is essential to the launch or success of the proposed project
  5. Project description that is accessible to non-specialists (limit one page).  The project description should include:
    • The question or problem, and why it is important
    • The approach to be taken
    • The potential impact of the proposed work.
  6. Abridged CV or biosketch (limit two pages)
  7. List of all current or pending external sources of grant support
  8. Budget and budget justification (limit one page, see sample).  Budgets should provide enough information to convey the alignment of the costs with the proposed work.  Faculty are encouraged to work closely with their grant administrators when including personnel and fringe. Faculty in Social Science Departments without a designated grant administrator may contact Amanda Ellenwood ( and faculty in the Arts & Humanities Division may contact Jimmy Matejek ( for support. 

Examples of eligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Personnel such as postdocs, graduate students, undergraduate students, consultants, translators
  • Fringe benefits
  • Supplies and equipment
  • Computer software that directly supports the proposed research
  • Domestic and international travel
  • Equipment user fees
  • Archive fees
  • Copyright acquisition
  • Training to acquire a new skill or area of expertise that will enable the proposed project

The following expenses are NOT eligible for funding:

  • Overhead
  • Faculty salary (except for sabbatical top-ups)
  • Graduate student tuition
  • Educational/course use

Optional: If you have a proposal that you have already submitted for competitive funding and you didn’t receive funding you may submit that original proposal and any external reviews you received, up to ten pages.  Please note that proposals to the Dean’s Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship will be reviewed by non-specialists and there is no guarantee that these supplementary documents will be reviewed.

Review Process:

The FAS dean appoints a small committee of eight faculty (two faculty members from each division and SEAS) that meets once per semester to review the submitted applications and make awards.  The current committee membership is as follows:

  • Barbara Grosz (Chair), Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences
  • Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of American History; Professor of African and African American Studies
  • Daniel Carpenter, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government; Director of the Social Sciences at the Radcliffe Institute
  • Emma Dench, McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics
  • Cynthia Friend, Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science; Director of the Rowland Institute
  • Shigehisa Kuriyama, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History; Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
  • David Mooney, Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering
  • Christopher Stubbs, Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy

For the current application cycle, the committee will meet in early May to decide among the applications submitted.  Before the final awards are announced, the FAS dean will meet with the committee chair to review the funding recommendations.  With an annual budget of $2.5 million, the committee will make awards to only the most promising of the applications and will stay within the budget of the Fund.  While there is no expectation that every application received will be funded, the committee will strive to award many small grants rather than a few large ones.  Applicants will be notified before Commencement.


If you have questions about the Dean’s Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship, please contact Erin Cromack (, 617-496-5252) or Susan Gomes (, 617-496-944