Dissertation Grant Program

Dissertation Grant Program


Microsoft recognizes the value of diversity in computing. The Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant aims to increase the pipeline of diverse talent receiving advanced degrees in computing-related fields by providing a research funding opportunity for doctoral students from groups under-represented in computing (women, African-Americans/Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, and/or people with disabilities).

Provisions of the award

  • The 2017 Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant recipients will receive funding up to 20,000 USD for academic year 2017–18 to help them complete research as part of their doctoral thesis work.
  • Microsoft will arrange and pay for travel and accommodations to grant recipients to attend a two-day Microsoft Research workshop in Redmond, Washington, on November 13–14, 2017.
    • The workshop will provide grant recipients an opportunity to present their research, meet individually with Microsoft researchers in their research area and receive career coaching from Microsoft researchers.

Eligibility criteria

  • PhD students must be enrolled at a university in the United States or Canada and doing dissertation work that relates to computing topics in which Microsoft Research has expertise (click on Research Areas at the top of the page for a full list).
  • PhD students must be in their fourth year or beyond in a PhD program when they apply for this grant. The student must continue to be enrolled at the university in the autumn of 2017. Funding is for use only during their time in the PhD program; it cannot be used for support in a role past graduation, such as a postdoc or faculty position. The applicant will need to confirm their PhD program starting month and year, as well as their expected graduation month and year.
  • Payment of the grant, as described above, will be made directly to the grant recipient’s university and dispersed according to the university’s policies.
  • Applicants must attest that they self-identify with at least one group under-represented in computing. This includes: women, African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and/or people with disabilities.


How to apply

The 2017 Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant application period is now closed. Please check back next year for information on our 2018 program.

  • PhD students must apply directly for the grant.
  • Applications must include: a curriculum vitae; thesis topic description (maximum two pages, font no smaller than 10 point); description of how the grant would be used, including a budget (maximum one page); contact information for three references (at least one of which must be from your primary academic advisor/supervisor); and three to six names of Microsoft researchers, chosen for topical relevance, who you would agree to be paired with as a mentor. A list of researchers and research areas can be found on our people webpage.
    • Microsoft will provide instructions and request a reference letter from each of your three reference contacts separately on Monday, April 10. All three contacts must submit your reference letters by Monday, April 24 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time in order for your application to be considered. Due to the number of applications, we will not respond to questions asking if your references were submitted in time.
  • Funding can be requested to support items such as equipment, data, travel, and staff salary needed for research; the request is not limited to these examples.
  • Applications must be submitted via the online application tool in any of the following formats: Word document, text-only file, or PDF. Email or hard-copy applications will not be considered.
  • Applications submitted to Microsoft will not be returned. Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information in submitted applications. Therefore, applications should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive.
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive grants.


Get answers to frequently asked questions about the Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant.

Eligibility criteria

Are international students (those who are not citizens of the United States or Canada) eligible to apply?

Yes, if you are an international student attending a school in the United States or Canada and meet the eligibility requirements.

What if I'm a student attending a university outside the United States or Canada?

This program includes only schools in the United States and Canada. If you are a student attending a school outside the United States and Canada, you are not eligible for this grant.

What if I will be completing my PhD before the autumn of 2017?

Students must still be enrolled in their PhD program during the autumn of 2017 in order to receive and use the grant. Grants are for completing dissertation research only, and cannot be used for support in a role past graduation, such as a postdoc or faculty position.

What if I am not in my fourth year or beyond during the application period?

Students must be in their fourth year or beyond in a PhD program when they apply for this grant. Students must have started their PhD in September 2013 or earlier to be considered to be in their fourth year of the program for this year’s application process.

Grant review process

How will applications be judged?

Reviewers will rate applications based on the technical/scientific quality and the potential impact of the proposed research.

Who will review the applications?

Applications will be reviewed by researchers from Microsoft Research with appropriate topical expertise. The three to six Microsoft researchers who the applicant referenced as people they would agree to be paired with as a mentor could be among those asked to review that applicant’s submission.

When will I know the outcome of the review process?

Selected grant applicants will receive notification no later than Friday, June 30, 2017. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive research grants.

Grant award details

If selected, when will I receive the grant funding?

Persons awarded a Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant in June will receive their financial award in July or August of that year. Microsoft sends the payment directly to the university, which then disperses funds according to its guidelines.

Do I need to include university “overhead” charges in my grant budget?

No. This award will be provided as an unrestricted gift with no terms and restrictions applied to it. No portion of these funds should be applied to overhead or other indirect costs.

Are there any tax implications for me if I receive this research grant?

The tax implications for the research grant are based on the policy at the university.

Will intellectual property be an issue if I am awarded a research grant?

The Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant is not subject to any intellectual property (IP) restrictions.