Social Sciences –
Pre-Dissertation Research Grants (PDR)

The Social Sciences Research Institute provides Pre-Dissertation Research (PDR) grants of up to $3,000 to support expenses related to preliminary dissertation research for graduate students in the School of Social Sciences. All subject areas and methodologies within the School will be considered equally. Usually, PDR applicants will be in their second to fourth year of graduate study. The PDR grants are intended for exploratory research that will enable the student to conduct a pilot or other preliminary projects to formulate a dissertation plan. This initial work should allow the student to prepare a more robust dissertation and submit more competitive dissertation research applications to other internal or external funding sources. For students ready to embark on their dissertation research project fully, the SSRI’s Dissertation Research Improvement Grant competition is more appropriate.

Proposals will be evaluated by the School’s Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC), chaired by the Dean of Social Sciences, and a six-member panel of faculty, one from each department (Sport Management excepted).

Awards have a duration of 18 months. No-cost extensions will not be granted, and the SSRI will reclaim any remaining funds. Students may only receive one PDR grant during their graduate career at Rice.

Fall: TBD
Spring: TBD

Award Information (FY25)

Estimated Number of Awards: 8
Anticipated Funding Amount per Award: $3,000
The expected start dates are as follows: Fall cycle on January 1st, and Spring cycle on July 1st.


Students must be currently registered Rice University graduate students in a Social Science discipline.

Proposal Guidelines and Application Packets

Submit the completed online PDR application by the deadline (the online PDR application may be found at the bottom of this page). Incomplete applications will not be considered for funding.

Prepare all materials using a minimum of 11-point Arial or Times New Roman font, with one-inch margins. Upload as a PDF. Be sure to include the following:

  1. The proposal narrative (single-spaced, three pages maximum) should discuss the preliminary research proposed and explain how it is preparatory to and expected to strengthen the anticipated dissertation research. The research question of interest and the methods used should be clearly defined and accessible to a non-specialist academic audience. Explain how and why this research question is significant and innovative in the context of existing literature in the discipline. Explain the anticipated end product of the research and its role in the dissertation. In a separate section, outline your schedule for the proposed research. Indicate when you plan to begin the proposed research, where it will be conducted, and when it will end.
  2. List of references cited. Each reference should include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication.
  3. Potential funding sources for dissertation research. Include a list of possible funding sources to which you might apply.
  4. Itemized budget and justification, maximum of two pages. Be sure to include the item, cost, quantity, and rationale for each item. Examples of allowable grant expenses include, but are not limited to, ­research-related travel (meal expenses and conference travel are not allowed), human subject payments, supplies, software, data set purchases, and other miscellaneous research expenses. The maximum budget amount is $3,000. There is no minimum.
  5. A curriculum vita, maximum of two pages
  6. A letter from the student’s advisor is required and should be submitted to Chris Rodriguez at letter should discuss the significance and feasibility of the research and its preliminary role in the student’s dissertation plan. This letter must be received no more than three business days after the PDR proposal deadline. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the letter has been submitted by this deadline.

Evaluation Criteria

The primary criteria are the significance of the proposed research, its feasibility within the planned timeframe, and its potential to enhance or improve future dissertation research and competitive funding applications. The FAC panel will more readily appreciate these aspects of the proposal if written clearly and for a non-specialist academic audience.

Successful Applications

Those who receive a PDR grant are required to submit two additional pieces of information:

  1. A 1-2 page research report should be submitted to the SSRI within 60 days of the award's expiration. There is no specific report format that must be followed. Still, reports typically include information such as a summary of the research and results, how the actual results differed from the expected results (if applicable), and how the preliminary results have impacted the dissertation plans. It is not necessary to provide a detailed financial report of how the funds were spent, but it is helpful to include a summary of how the budget needs to be changed during the research in the information.
  2. If additional dissertation support is received from an outside agency or a Rice funding source after the SSRI PDR grant is received, please let Chris know and provide award information (sponsor, the amount received, etc.).


Please contact Chris Rodriguez.