PDRI Graduate Student Research Grants

March 2022 | Dario Sidhu

The Penn Development Research Initiative (PDRI) offers grants to support the research of Penn graduate students doing research on the challenges facing low- and middle-income countries.

Grants are offered once a year, in the spring/summer. Students may apply for grants of up to $2,500. PDRI plans to fund between 4 and 10 research projects per year, with a planned annual disbursal of $10,000.

What we fund

Funds may be used for the following purposes:

  • Costs associated with field research.
  • Costs associated with data collection (including online panels, so long as the target country is not considered a high-income country).
  • Travel to libraries, archives, special collections, or other research sites.
  • Purchase of data, research materials, research-related software, and/or specialized equipment.
  • Undergraduate research assistant time for appropriate tasks (e.g., data entry).

Applicants may combine PDRI funding with other sources of funding for their projects. Grants are open to individual students as well as for collaborative projects between graduate students.


Any full-time Penn doctoral student enrolled in any school is eligible to apply. Applicants are not required to hold any affiliation with PDRI.

Note: any Penn PhD student with interests in research on low- and middle-income countries is eligible for PDRI fellow status. Please email pdri-info@sas.upenn.edu for more information.

Proposed research projects should focus on challenges facing low- and middle- income countries. PDRI will not fund work that is primarily based in and of sole relevance to high-income countries. Proposals for research based in high-income countries with clear relevance to international development (e.g., international migration) may receive consideration.


The application must use the provided template, and should include:

  • A 3-page proposal describing the proposed research project, its importance, the methods for conducting the research, and an expected timeline
  • An itemized budget and brief budget narrative describing how the funds will be used.
  • The applicant’s CV.

Application instructions

Applicants should email their application materials to pdri-info@sas.upenn.edu with the subject line “PDRI graduate research grant application”.


Applications must be submitted by the deadline. Awards will be announced within 6 weeks of the application deadline.

Annual deadline: April 10th

Evaluation criteria

Proposals will be assessed by an interdisciplinary panel of PDRI leadership and faculty affiliates. Each proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit of the proposed research project (e.g., the topic is of substantive importance; the project proposes appropriate methods to answer its research question)
  • The ability of the applicant to successfully implement the proposed research
  • Appropriateness of proposed budget. The budget should be as frugal as possible and clearly justified.

Award obligations

  • Grant recipients are required to provide a brief (1-2 pages) final report on the activities funded by the PDRI grant.
  • Awardees are expected to present results of their research in PDRI’s events (workshops and/or seminars).
  • Grant recipients are expected to serve as “good citizens” of PDRI. This includes a willingness and desire to actively participate in PDRI events and activities e.g., the PDRI seminar and feedback workshop.

For further information and questions, contact PDRI at pdri-info@sas.upenn.edu.