SERA Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant

The SERA Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant is awarded annually to up to five doctoral students to support dissertation research on social and economic rights. The grant is for $5,000 and can be spent in any manner to advance the dissertation research. Applicants are not required to submit a budget. Applications are due by March 1st at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.


  1. Open only to students in a PhD or other doctoral program. (i.e. DPhil or EdD).

  2. Open to all students enrolled in US institutions of higher education whether US citizens, permanent residents or international students.

  3. Dissertation proposal has been formally accepted by the applicant’s institution.

  4. Focus of dissertation is explicitly on social and economic rights.

Application Materials

      1. A curriculum vitae (maximum 5 pages).

      2. A cover letter (maximum one page).

      3. A title and a 150-word abstract for the dissertation research project.

      4. A description of the dissertation research to be undertaken and its relevance to social and economic rights (1000 words maximum).

      5. A letter from the chair of the applicant’s dissertation committee, indicating:

  • that the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended (or formally accepted);

  • that the proposed research is appropriate for the SERA Human Rights Dissertation Grant in that it is explicitly on social and economic rights (see frequently asked questions for further guidance); and

  • that the applicant is likely to complete the dissertation.

Application Process

All materials should be submitted in Times New Roman 12-point font with at least one-inch margins.

The application materials should be submitted as a single PDF in the order listed above to

Please name your PDF: LAST NAME_SERA_APPLICATION_2022.pdf.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Questions may be directed to


Applications may be submitted beginning January 15th. The deadline for receipt of applications is March 1st at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. Review of applications will be in March and April by a panel of experts on economic and social rights based on the selection criteria below, and decisions will be announced by May 31st.

Selection criteria

  1. Quality of the proposal in terms of clear description of the research project, including an explanation of the problem to be addressed, the research question, the key literature on the question, the research design and methodology, and any other essential elements of the research project.

  2. Evidence that the project will advance research on social and economic rights as indicated by the research project description, the cover letter and the letter from the applicant’s dissertation chair.

  3. Likelihood of completion of the project as evidenced by the CV, the cover letter, the description of the project, and/or the letter from the applicant’s dissertation chair. Examples of such evidence include completion of similar prior work and/or steps toward completion of the dissertation.

Conditions for Receipt of Grant

Before the awards are made, the review committee will contact the dissertation chair for each of the proposed grantees to ensure that the grantee continues to be enrolled in the PhD program and is likely to complete the dissertation project.

To receive the award, grantees will be required to provide a photograph of themselves, the title of their dissertation research and a 150-word abstract of the dissertation project, including the research question and the research design, to be displayed on the SERA website.