What is the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship?

The Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship (IDF) provides a unique opportunity for outstanding Ph.D. students who are engaged in interdisciplinary research to study with faculty at one of the University’s interdisciplinary research centers or institutes during the fellowship year. Applicants designate the host center or institute they believe is the best match with their planned dissertation topic, contingent upon endorsement by the host center or institute. Applicants should check with mentors and directors early to ensure a good match. All application materials are forwarded to the student’s graduate program for submission to the Graduate School.

The award includes a stipend of $25,000 for the academic year (September-May), tuition for up to 14 graduate credits each semester (Fall & Spring), and subsidized health insurance through the Graduate Assistant Health Plan. Summer health insurance will be provided if the Fellow remains eligible.

The review will be conducted by a University-wide faculty committee. Selection of recipients will be based on the following criteria:

  • Interdisciplinary nature of the research project (selection will favor research that integrates disciplines not currently represented in the student's graduate program)
  • Innovativeness of the proposed research
  • How affiliation with the host center/institute will benefit the student
  • Willingness and ability of the center/institute and its faculty to host the student during the fellowship year
  • Student's independence, originality, and the comparative strength of the academic record
  • Potential contribution of the research to the field
  • Strength of the supporting letters


To be considered for an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship (IDF), students must meet the following criteria:

  • Ph.D. student in good standing with their program at the University of Minnesota
  • Have an intended graduation term of no earlier than spring 2024*
  • Able to demonstrate that they are making timely degree progress

Students who have received an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship (IDF) or a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF) from the Graduate School in the past are not eligible.

*Students who are not qualified for the IDF fellowship due to their intended graduation term should instead apply for the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

The nomination window is now closed.


For more information about internal review and nomination procedures, please contact your Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or designated program support staff. If you have additional questions, contact the Graduate School Fellowship Office.

Expand all

How Do I Nominate Students? 

Nomination Procedure

The DGS or designated program support staff authorized to work with graduate student records will need to complete an electronic nomination for each IDF nominee. Programs are not limited in the number of students they may nominate.

A complete nomination includes: 

  • Electronic Nomination Form
  • A single PDF uploaded to the Nomination Form that includes in this order:
    • Nominee's application
    • Nominee's curriculum vitae
    • Nominee's research proposal
    • Letter of endorsement from host center or institute
    • Letter(s) of support from faculty mentor(s) in host center or institute
    • Letter of support from advisor/co-advisors (may be co-authored)
    • Unofficial U of M graduate transcript, with explanation of incompletes
    • Proof of IRB/IACUC approval, if applicable

Accessing Electronic Application

Create a Program Login to access the nomination form:

  • Create one username/password to upload all program nominations.
  • If more than one staff person will be viewing/updating program nominations (e.g., DGS and Program Level Coordinator/DGS Assistant), be sure to create a username/password that can be shared.

Create the First Electronic Nomination:

  • Go to the electronic nomination form, log in, complete the required fields, and upload a PDF of the required documents. Select either SAVE/UPDATE or SUBMIT.
  • SAVE/UPDATE - You will remain in the form and may continue editing.
  • SUBMIT - You will exit the form.  A nomination confirmation email will be sent to the DGS and to the support staff indicated on the electronic form.
    • Both options will save the nomination, overwriting any previously saved/submitted information, and enable Graduate School staff to access the information.
    • Both options will allow program staff to continue editing the nomination until the application deadline.
    • Faculty reviewers will not view saved/submitted information until after the nomination deadline.

Add Additional Nominations or Update Existing Nominations:

  • Programs may continue to edit the nomination until the nomination deadline.
  • To add additional nominations after creating the first record, log in as "Returning User" and select "START NEW" at the top of the page.
  • To update existing nominations, log in as "Returning User" and select the pencil icon at the left of the screen.

Confirm receipt of the nomination:

  • Log in and select SUBMIT at the bottom of the form. An email will be sent to the Director of Graduate Studies and to the support staff indicated on the electronic form.

Instructions for Letter Writers

Faculty Mentor Letter(s)

At least one letter of support is required from a mentor. If there are two mentors, the second mentor may write a letter of support, but a second letter is not required.

Maximum 1 page. The mentor letter should address the following:

  1. How long you have known the student and in what context.
  2. The innovativeness of the student's project.
    • Will this project build on an existing project or collaboration(s), or will the project explore new, innovative directions and collaborations?
    • What fields will the student's project combine?
    • How will the student combine them?
  3. The potential for the student to make a significant contribution to his/her field and to other fields.
  4. How your collaboration with the student will contribute to his/her scholarly development and research.

Advisor/co-advisor letter

Only one advisor letter of support should be provided. If there are two co-advisors, the letter may be co-authored.

Maximum 2 pages. The advisor letter should address the following:

  1. The independence, originality, and overall academic quality of the student.
  2. The potential for the student to make a significant contribution to his/her field.
  3. The interdisciplinary nature of the research.
  4. How the research will integrate disciplines not currently represented in the student’s graduate program.
  5. How affiliation with the host center/institute will benefit the student.