Graduate Student Research Awards

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 are inviting applications from UC Berkeley graduate and doctoral students. The application period for 2020-2021 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.

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.

Award amounts: up to $6,000

Eligible expenditures:

  • Allowable expenses include, but are not limited to, acquiring data, purchasing services (e.g., digitizing documents), or necessary travel.
  • Funds may not be used to pay a salary/stipend for the applicant, or to cover university fees. 
  • Funds must be spent by May 30th, 2021.

Reporting requirements and expectations:

  • Awardees must submit a one-page report on the research project’s status within two weeks after the grant period ends.
  • Awards will generally lead to academic publications, though this sometimes does not occur for some time after the end of the award. Awardees are strongly encouraged to publish early versions of the work in IRLE’s working paper series, and are expected to inform IRLE about the eventual publication date and outlet.
  • We strongly encourage awardees to produce public-facing products such as issue briefs, op-eds, white papers, or legislative testimony related to the project. IRLE offers resources that can be helpful in producing these.

Applicant eligibility:

  • Masters and 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.

Application instructions:

To apply, complete this form to submit the following: 

  1. Cover letter that includes (1) your interest and experience related to IRLE’s mission, (2) a short description (500 words) of your research project, a short description (500 words of how the funds will advance your research project, and (4) the name and department of your primary faculty advisor
  2. Short budget
  3. CV
  4. Current transcript (unofficial is fine)
  5. Writing sample of 5-10 pages
  6. 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


  • The application period for 2020-2021 funding has ended.
  • Decisions will be communicated by May 15, 2020.
  • IRLE will consider proposals on a rolling basis pending fund availability.

2019-2020 Student Research Awardees »