Dissertation Fellowship Program

The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at the University of California, Berkeley supports rigorous interdisciplinary research projects on topics aligned with our mission: to understand the dynamics and policies affecting workers, working life, and employment. We invite applications from promising scholars from departments across the Berkeley campus. The application period for 2022-2023 funding has ended.

IRLE seeks to fund a broad and interdisciplinary range of research areas that intersect with our mission. In recent years, we have funded projects focused on education, public employment, criminal justice, labor markets, racial equity, gender discrimination, and immigration.

Award types

IRLE offers two graduate awards that graduate students may apply for:

  1. Dissertation fellowship: Fellows receive two semesters of resident tuition and fees plus a $15,000 stipend to support the completion of dissertations related to IRLE’s mission. Details below.
  2. Graduate Student research award: Flexible funds designed to advance student research projects in partnership with a faculty advisor or mentor. Learn more about the graduate student research award program.

In addition to funding, IRLE will provide grantees with collaborative meeting space, opportunities for publication and promotion of work products, and other research support appropriate to the project.

Dissertation fellowship amounts

  • One time $15,000 stipend, resident tuition and fees (up to two semesters)

Eligible expenditures

  • Registered UC Berkeley doctoral students who are nearing completion of a dissertation related to IRLE’s mission and in residence during 2022-2023.
  • Stipend funds should be used to advance your dissertation, including by freeing you from teaching obligations.

Reporting requirements and expectations

  • Fellows are expected to be active and contributing members of an interdisciplinary community of emerging scholars at IRLE.
  • In the spring semester, each Fellow will present a completed chapter or working paper at an IRLE research workshop.
  • Fellows are strongly encouraged to publish their research in IRLE’s working paper or policy brief series, and are expected to inform IRLE about the eventual publication date and outlet.
  • When IRLE supported work results in academic publications, we ask fellows to inform IRLE of those publications.

Applicant eligibility

  • Doctoral students with a GPA above 3.0 and no incompletes.
  • Applicants must be in residence at UC Berkeley and not on leave during the grant period. (Working remotely is fine).
  • Because the purpose of the IRLE Fellowship is to enable full-time research and writing, preference is given to Fellows who do not hold teaching or other academic appointments during the fellowship year.

Application instructions

To apply, complete this form to submit the following: 

  1. Cover letter that describes your interest in IRLE’s mission and trajectory for completing your dissertation
  2. 5-page dissertation prospectus
  3. CV
  4. Current official or unofficial transcript
  5. Letter of support from your Dissertation advisor. The letter does not need to be long or detailed. (This can be uploaded as part of your application but if your advisor prefers, it can also be sent by e-mail to irle@berkeley.edu)


  • The application period for 2022-2023 funding has ended. Check back in March 2023 for application details.

2021-2022 Fellows »