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Audience: Graduate Student
Disciplinary Area: Arts and Humanities, Health and Medical Sciences, Life and Physical Sciences, Social Sciences

A funding guide for graduate student internships and practica.
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General Tips and Strategies


  • Starting early is very important. Don’t wait until the details of your internship or project are finalized to begin searching for funding opportunities. Many applications will not require you to have a detailed timetable or budget, but rather to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the work and potential as a future employee in the field.
  • Be aware of lengthy turn-around times—deadlines can fall far in advance of the funding start date.

Be aware of the situation

  • Portable (i.e. unrestricted) funding for internships and practica is limited. That means most funding available specifically for internships will require the applicant to become an intern at a site chosen by the sponsor.
  • Most student funding is in the form of scholarships/fellowships, research grants, dissertation awards, or for travel related to research or study. There is little funding specifically for unrestricted travel or for internships/practica.
  • Typically most internships and practica are self- or internally-funded, or supported in part by the internship/practica sponsor.

Be resourceful

  • Check with your school, college, department and other organizations that have a vested interest in the project or in you as a scholar and professional.
  • Take out additional student loans if possible or shift your current student loan use to allocate money for your internship or practicum. You can also seek additional scholarships for ongoing study or research and use that money to repay yourself for money that was reallocated for your experiential education.
  • Save, save, save.
  • Fund-raising—ask friends and family to help you raise funds via donations, a special fundraising event, or some other way not involving an application process. Apply for program funding with yourself as a budget item rather than individual funding:
    • If you find an award that requires the applicant to have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and does not fund individuals you may be able to apply through Carolina (since the university has nonprofit status) using a faculty member as the Principal Investigator (PI) and yourself as co-PI.
    • If you partner with a nonprofit organization interested in your work they may be able to act as the fiscal agent (receiver and administer for grant funds) for a foundation grant. If they are successful in procuring funding, your stipend, travel, and/or project funding will likely be considered budget items.

Internal Funding Resources

  • Carolina Internal Funding Database provides information on internal sources of funds available from various units at UNC-Chapel Hill. Search by applicant type to view all funding opportunities available for graduate students or by award type to see travel, study abroad, or other types of funding. You can also search by deadline, sponsor, or keyword. However, you can only search by one data element at a time.
  • Center for Global Initiatives (CGI) offers funding opportunities designed to help increase access to global education opportunities for individuals, groups, and disciplines traditionally underrepresented in such intellectual pursuits. Review CGI’s Awards and Fellowships page for details on funding opportunities that support field research, international internships, conference participation, pre-dissertation travel, foreign language training, and more.
  • Carolina Center for Public Service supports scholarship and service that are responsive to the concerns of the state of North Carolina and contribute to the common good. Review their website for information about the Public Service Scholars Program, fellowships, public service awards, and other opportunities that support public service in North Carolina and beyond.
  • Office of Scholarships and Student Aid offers information on need based, non-need based and external scholarships and resources for Carolina students. Review available opportunities found under “Types of Aid.” Information on funding specifically for Travel/Study Abroad can be found under “Applying for Aid.”
  • University Career Services provides a list of internal and external funding opportunities and resources for students who are pursuing internships and other forms of experiential education.
  • Carolina Economic Revitalization Corps This program selects 5 returning graduate students to carry out economic revitalization work in low-capacity and economically distressed communities across North Carolina for a one-year period. CERC members are selected and trained during the spring semester and placed at a regional organization for a paid 10-week summer internship.
  • Carolina Experience Enrichment Scholarship Program Students planning to study abroad or work as an unpaid intern for the first time are eligible for a CEES’ Fellowship.
  • Office of Study Abroad The Phillips Ambassadors Program offers one scholarship on the graduate level to support summer travel and research in Asia.

External Funding Resources

  • Databases:
    • InfoEd Global SPIN is a comprehensive database of funding opportunities from many government and private sources. Searches for both individual and non-profit applicants can be conducted in this database. Search by funding types and keywords that are relevant to your endeavor (see the Help documents for more information on constructing your search).
    • Community Foundation Locator indexes local community foundations which provide grants and scholarships to both individuals and non-profits. Select North Carolina (or other applicable state) from the Community Foundation Locator map to view a list of foundations in that state.
    • Foundation Directory Online indexes nearly 100,000 U.S. private foundations and corporate grantmakers and over 2 million recent grants. It is a helpful resource for projects with a non-profit as the applicant. Note: Because of licensing restrictions, the Funding Information Portal can only provide access to the free version of the Foundation Center’s database. Students and staff who want to access the full database, which unlocks all content and search fields, should make an appointment at the Office of Research Development.
    • NC OpenBudget lists NC state government grant and financial assistance programs and awards made. A helpful resource for projects with a non-profit as the applicant. Search by granting agency, recipient, program, and location of the recipient.
  • Examples of “non-traditional” funding sources (organizations that have a vested interest in your success and/or project might include):
    • Professional associations
    • Honor societies
    • Civic organizations
    • Churches and religious organizations
    • Ethnic organizations
    • Local/regional businesses and corporations
    • Local newspapers and magazines
    • Family members

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