Faculty Funding

Apply for funding to bring in speakers from beyond academia

Mini-grants of up to $3000 are awarded on a rolling basis to faculty in the humanities and social sciences who collaborate across disciplines to create an experiential activity that includes alumni speakers. Careers Beyond Academia staff guide and encourage graduate students and postdocs to collaborate with faculty to help create the events.

Bring greater recognition of the career opportunities and skills needed to be successful in a career outside a professorial position. Intended for pre- and postdoctoral scholars to engage with alumni and others who have transitioned to many diverse career paths.

The grants are for interactive sessions involving Cornell PhD alumni and other professionals to inform Cornell PhD students and postdocs about careers outside the professoriate and the skills they will need to be successful in these careers. We are happy to brainstorm ideas with you to help create the most impactful activities.


Any faculty member in a major or minor graduate field is eligible to apply, provided they were not awarded a grant last year. Priority consideration is given to fields within the social sciences and humanities, as well as to joint proposals with more than one graduate field in any discipline across campus.

We strongly encourage you to involve your graduate students (or graduate student organizations) in the application process and engage them in the implementation of the event to provide them with an immersive experiential learning opportunity.


Be creative! The format(s) of this doctoral student-alumni engagement can take multiple forms, depending on which approach best meets the needs of the participants. Examples: a hands-on workshop, lecture, conference, case-based team project, panel discussion, or interactive session. To maximize the impact of the alumni visit, applicants are encouraged to develop an experiential activity that benefits graduate students from multiple fields within the broader discipline and engages alumni from diverse backgrounds. We can provide up to $3,000 for Careers Beyond Academia event(s) that meet the following three learning outcomes:

  1. Identify Transferable Skills: Participants will develop a stronger sense of the skills they have gained during their PhD and how these skills connect to non-academic career options.
  2. Discover Career Options: Participants will identify potential non-academic career options based on their skills, interests, values, or goals and will be exposed to ideas on how to pursue them.
  3. Broaden Networks to Apply Skills: Participants will apply their skills by interacting with alumni and peers in venues on or off campus via informal interactions, panel discussions, etc.

Proposals from graduate fields in the humanities and social sciences receive priority consideration. Any faculty member in any graduate field or minor may submit a proposal for a mini-grant for up to $3,000, but only one application per graduate field will be considered, and the maximum grant amount is $3,000 no matter how many fields collaborate to create the experience. Please copy your director of graduate studies so they are aware of your intent and can coordinate should there be multiple proposals from the field. Funds must be used to involve the engagement of alumni as speakers, panelists or facilitators for professional development opportunities within the current academic year. Planned events must be centered on informing current PhD students about career options outside of the academy and developing the skills to be successful in those careers. Activities that engage participants are favored over passive events.

Contact Susi Varvayanis (sv27@cornell.edu) with any questions about your ideas to increase your chances for funding, as we are intent on developing meaningful relationships to help you support doctoral student success. We can share with you our potential level of enthusiasm and provide insight on outcomes we seek. Due Date: Rolling until funds expended

Please submit proposals to gradcareers@cornell.edu with the subject line: MINI GRANTS that include:

  • A description of the experiential activity, including the approximate date and time, and how it will meet the three learning outcomes
  • Brief biographies of the speakers (links to online sources are fine)
  • A rationale for the type of event and the choice of speakers
  • An itemized budget. If cost sharing will be used for this initiative, please indicate the funding source(s) and the items covered
  • The target participant count and the graduate fields of the targeted participants
  • A description of how the event(s) will be advertised to maximize the impact of the alumni visit
  • Award notification: within 2 weeks of submission
  • Funds transferred to lead applicant field
  • In case of significant delay, contact Susi Varvayanis (sv27@cornell.edu) to request permission to carry over funds to the next fiscal year. Otherwise, return the funds to the Graduate School by mid-June
  1. Distribute an evaluation to all attendees after the event with the core questions (provided on award) to assess how effectively the event met the three learning outcomes. Feel free to develop additional questions or employ additional assessment methods to identify the event’s impact.
  2. Submit a concise report within 30 days of the event(s) (and no later than mid-June) via email to sv27@cornell.edu with the following details:
    • Summary of evaluation results and brief reflection describing the impact of the event on participants
    • A final copy of the event advertisement
    • A final description of the event
    • List of participant names and emails for events taking place with the alumni speaker(s)
    • Event budget detailing actual expenses. A brief narrative about the event and implications for future alumni engagement or non-academic career programming.

In partnership with the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement