2019 Rural Sociological Society MS, PhD, and Early Career Research Award Competition

This year the RSS Council has authorized the use of Endowment funds to support Master’s theses, Ph.D. dissertations, and Early Career Research awards to support research activities conducted during the 2018-2019 fiscal/academic year. Proposals are invited to conduct research on all topics encompassed by the field of rural sociology. The awards are designed to stimulate research that will help develop the careers of future rural sociologists and support the broader mission of the Rural Sociological Society. Award winners are strongly encouraged to submit papers based on their research to future RSS Annual Meetings. The RSS Endowment Committee will oversee the awards process.

The RSS Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Research Award Competition

Graduate student members of the Rural Sociological Society are eligible to apply for master’s thesis and Ph.D. dissertation research awards. Dissertation awards can be made for up to $5,000. Master’s thesis awards can be made for up to $2,500. Proposals approved for funding may receive budget allocations below the requested amounts, based on availability of funds and recommendations of the Endowment Committee.

The RSS Early Careers Research Awards Competition

Members of the Rural Sociological Society who received their Ph.D. on or after January 1, 2014 are eligible to apply for RSS Early Career Research awards. Because the size of these awards is modest, proposals will generally involve small-scale projects that will enhance opportunities for scholars to pursue expanded research efforts in the future. The Early Career Research awards have previously been made for up to $5,000.

Submission Guidelines for Awards Competitions

The deadline for submission of proposals and required supporting materials is February 15, 2019. Proposals received after that date will not be reviewed or considered for funding. All proposals must be compiled into a single Adobe Acrobat .pdf format and submitted to Matthew Sanderson ([email protected]), chair of the Awards and Endowment Committee. Nominees who are unable to meet these submission requirements and/or who cannot save their files in .pdf format should contact Matthew at (785)532-4969 or at the email listed above at least two weeks in advance of the due date so that alternative arrangements for submission can be made.

When nominating someone for any award, nominators should consider whether the candidate meets the standards outlined by the RSS Code of Ethics. RSS award winners are expected to meet these standards: https://www.ruralsociology.org/rss-ethics.

Submission Deadline: February 15, 2019
Notification Date: May 2019
Award Date:August 2019 or by special arrangement
Proposal packets should include: 

1. A short cover letter. The cover letter should include a paragraph explaining how the thesis/dissertation/research will influence the applicant’s future work related to rural sociology.

2. The proposal. The proposal, which includes the budget and budget justification, is limited to a maximum of 10 double-spaced pages, using a 12-point font and 1inch margins. Note: references are not included in the 10-page limit. The proposal should include: 

  • A well-defined problem statement 
  • An abbreviated literature review
  • A section detailing research methods
  • A work-plan schedule 
  • Plans for dissemination of findings 
  • An itemized budget for the work planned 
  • A brief budget justification narrative 

3. Budget notes

  • Proposal must include a narrative budget justification. 
  • Equipment purchases are not permitted with Endowment funds. 
  • Because of limited funds and the relatively small dollar total of awards, RSS will not pay overhead charges to the host institution of the recipient. 
  • The RSS Endowment Committee understands that individuals submitting proposals may seek additional funding from other sources. The committee requests that the budget narrative describe exactly which parts of the project would be supported by additional funds and which parts would be supported by RSS Endowment Funds. 

4. A copy of the applicant's vita. 

5. Proposal packets submitted for the Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Research Awards must also include a letter from the student’s major professor or thesis/dissertation chair that addresses the project’s intellectual significance and the likelihood that work on the thesis/dissertation will be actively pursued during the 2018-2019 academic year. When nominating someone for any award, nominators should consider whether the candidate meets the standards outlined by the RSS Code of Ethics. RSS award winners are expected to meet these standards:


Complete applicant packets should be sent via email as a single .pdf file to Matthew Sanderson, Chair of the RSS Awards and Endowment Committee, [email protected].

Upon completion of his or her project, each RSS award recipient must provide a 500-word summary, which will be published on the Rural Sociological Society website. Award winners are expected to attend the annual meeting to receive their award.