Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship


Is there a list of eligible or participating centers and institutes?

  • Any center or institute at the University of Minnesota is eligible to participate, as long as the director of the center/institute is willing to write the applicant a letter of endorsement.
  • Please refer to the Centers & Institutes List, maintained by the Office of the Provost.

Is there a limit to the number of applicants a center or institute may endorse?

The Graduate School does not set a limit.  However, each center/institute may choose to limit the number of applications it will endorse.

The center I want to work with is a small center within a larger one.  Each center has a director.  Which center director should I ask for a letter of endorsement?

Check with the director of the primary (larger) center to determine who should provide the letter of endorsement.

May I apply to more than one center or institute?

  • You may explore research options with more than one center or institute. 
  • If more than one center or institute agrees to support your application, you will need to decide which host center or institute is the best match for your interdisciplinary research, because your program may only submit one nomination per student.

Is there a limit to the number of nominations a program may submit?

No. However, programs may only submit one nomination per student.

My center/institute has given me a different deadline than October 22, 2018.  Which one is accurate?

  • The internal deadline of October 22, 2018 is provided to ensure that centers/institutes will have sufficient time to write letters of endorsement for all nominees they wish to support. 
  • If your center or institute has given you a later deadline, please check with them to understand how the deadline relates to their internal process and requirements (if any), and to ensure it will allow your program to meet the Graduate School deadline of noon, November 16, 2018.
  • The Graduate School deadline (noon, November 16, 2018) is the date by which a complete electronic program nomination, including all letters of support, must be submitted to the Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives.

Are there limitations or restrictions with regard to the discipline of faculty advisors, mentors, and center/institute directors who support my nomination?

The Graduate School does not place any restrictions. However, the purpose of the fellowship is to provide an opportunity to work with faculty from diverse fields, so a strong application will include faculty from outside the nominee's program.

Can my advisor also be my mentor?

If your advisor is also your mentor, your application will not be as competitive, given the purpose of the fellowship.

May contract faculty serve as mentors?

Yes, as long as their appointments are in the Human Resources “faculty group” and they hold a faculty title.

Does my mentor need to be a faculty member affiliated with the designated host center/institute?


What does it mean for a prospective mentor to be “affiliated” with a particular center/institute?

Centers and institutes identify the faculty who are affiliated with them and what “affiliation” means.  In general, faculty mentors should be engaged in the intellectual life of the center or institute—for example, they may serve as a Principal Investigator (or member of a research team) on a research project administered by the center or institute; or they may participate in the center’s educational programming, if the center offers an academic program; or they may participate in partnerships with community collaborators.  Prospective IDF applicants should check with their designated center or institute to determine if their faculty mentor is considered to be affiliated with the center/institute.

I am a full-time employee at the University and am also pursuing a Ph.D. degree. Am I eligible for an IDF?

No, full-time employees at the University (or elsewhere) who are also enrolled in a Ph.D. program are not eligible for the IDF. Fellowship recipients may hold up to a 25-percent time graduate assistantship or other job not exceeding 10 hours per week. They may receive supplemental support up to the value of a 25-percent graduate assistantship from any source in each semester and are expected to devote substantial time to their research and coursework during the Fellowship year.

I plan to graduate at the end of the spring semester of the year for which I hope to be awarded an IDF.  Am I still eligible?

No, the IDF should not be used during the final year of study. PhD candidates seeking funding for their final year of study should instead apply for the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

I have been awarded an NSF Fellowship for the same year in which I would like to hold the IDF.  May I hold both fellowships in the same year?

No; however, if you apply for the IDF and receive it, you may defer your NSF Fellowship for the year in which you hold the IDF and use your NSF in the subsequent year.  The IDF may not be deferred.

I have received an IDF and am also in a joint degree program that combines a first-professional degree and the Ph.D. degree. If the college of my first professional degree requires me to register in that college for one or both semesters of the academic year, how will this affect my IDF?

You need to register in the college of your Ph.D. program during the fall and spring semesters in which you hold the IDF. 

Where can I get help with writing my research proposal?

Student Writing Support in the Center for Writing offers individual consultations and online resources to help graduate students develop and revise their research proposals.

What are some of the characteristics of successful IDF nominations?

Successful nominations exhibit the following characteristics:

  • The proposed research is clearly interdisciplinary in nature. (The nominee’s research proposal effectively explains what makes the research interdisciplinary.)
  • The research is innovative.
  • The research integrates disciplines not currently represented in the student’s graduate program.
  • The importance/potential impact of the research is clear.
  • The research proposal is well developed. Ideas are well-thought out and are clearly and sufficiently explained.
  • The research proposal is well written. The research proposal does not contain jargon, is well composed, and can be understood by the non-specialist.
  • Support letters are strong.
  • The student’s academic record is strong.

IRB/IACUC Requirement Questions

I haven't received my IRB/IACUC approval yet.  What should I do?

Please provide documentation with your application showing that you have started your request (1-2 pages). As soon as you receive your IRB/IACUC approval, submit it to  If you are awarded an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship, funding will be contingent upon proof of IRB/IACUC approval.

My study involves human or animal subjects, but IRB/IACUC told me that I don't need approval for my research.  What should I do?

Please provide the email or letter from IRB or IACUC with your application stating that approval is not required for your project. 

My advisor has IRB/IACUC approval which covers my project.  Do I still need to obtain documentation?

Please provide the approval page (1-2 pages) of the IRB/IACUC documentation that your advisor has obtained.

For Questions

If you still have questions after reviewing this page, please contact the Graduate Fellowships Office at

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