Graduate Studies

Professional Development Grants

Professional Development Grants (PDGs) are available to help students meet the costs of attending skills/knowledge building and networking events that will enhance their professional development. This includes, but is not limited to, conferences, symposia, film festivals, and industry gatherings.

The GSA recognizes that different programs have different professional development needs and opportunities, and encourages all graduate students to apply for PDGs.

General Guidelines

  • PDGs are intended to cover a portion, not all, of the student’s legitimate expenses while attending the approved events or activities. Legitimate expenses include, but are not limited to, Event Registration Fee, Flights, Bus, Train, Other Ground Transport, and Lodging. Food is not considered a legitimate expense.
  • PDGs are awarded by the GSA upon approval by the GSA Executive Council.
  • PDG awards work on a reimbursement basis and require submission of original receipts as outlined on the PDG Award Letter.
  • At a minimum, PDG award recipients must submit a short, two paragraph description of the event and how they benefited from attending it that will be posted to the GSA blog.
  • Graduate students may receive only one PDG during the lifetime of their program. If a student declines or fails to claim a PDG that has been awarded to him her, he/she may apply for a second PDG.


  • PDGs are not available for additional educational experiences, such as education workshops or internships, or for the purchase of any hardware, software, or equipment.
  • PDGs may not be applied toward work for academic credit or for coursework activities, such as capstone experiences.
  • Undergraduates are not eligible for and may not receive PDGs or any funding from a PDG.
  • Graduate students cannot be reimbursed for paying undergraduate student expenses.
  • Applications submitted for events or activities that have already occurred will not be considered.


  • Must be a graduate student who is currently registered in one of the ten graduate degree programs at Emerson College.
  • Must be a graduate student in good standing and the events or activities must be closely related to the applicant’s field of study.
  • Students may apply for a PDG award at any point while enrolled and registered at Emerson College. Graduating students may still apply for funds in their final semester if the event takes place within the first 4 months following the last day of classes.

Application Form, Deadlines, and Process

GSA PDG Application Form »

Applicants must submit the GSA PDG Application Form by a minimum of three (3) weeks before the event or activity occurs. Applicants who do not submit the application form by the three week deadline will not be funded. Right after submitting the form, applicants must email to notify the GSA Vice President/Treasurer that a grant request has been submitted.

Applicants must include a summary of their participation and a breakdown of estimated expenses. The most common expense categories are Event Registration Fee, Flights, Bus, Train, Other Ground Transport, Lodging, and Association Membership Fee. Applicants should specify Other Ground Transport and any additional expenses. The summary must include an explanation of how the event or activity will contribute to the applicant's professional development.

Students should not assume that they are guaranteed any or all funding when submitting a proposal.

Approval Process

Applications received by the GSA will be reviewed by the GSA Executive Council on a 1-2 week basis. If you need an application reviewed more urgently in order to be able to attend an event, please email

Students will be notified by the GSA of acceptance or non-acceptance of the proposal. If awarded, the grant is a commitment of reimbursement up to the specified amount, given the timely submission of proper receipts. No funds may be released without formal GSA approval. The decision of the GSA Executive Council is final.

Reimbursement Procedure & Deadline

To have a Professional Development Grant reimbursed, students must come to the Office of Graduate Studies in person and submit their original receipts, a copy of the GSA’s Professional Development Grant approval letter, and the two paragraph description of the event. Students will also complete a check request form at the Office of Graduate Studies. Photocopied receipts will not be accepted.

The College cannot reimburse a student for payment another person has made. Therefore, all receipts paid for by credit card must have the student’s name on the receipt. Receipts paid for by someone else cannot be used for reimbursement.

Students can only be reimbursed for original receipts turned in, and this amount cannot exceed the PDG awarded by the GSA. If less than the PDG award is spent, the student cannot claim the full PDG award amount.

All receipts must be submitted within six weeks of attending the event. Reimbursement requests submitted after these deadlines will be considered cancelled. The Office of Graduate Studies and GSA Executive Council are not responsible for the loss of receipts and/or paperwork, and recommend that students keep copies of their receipts for their personal records.

Items Required for Reimbursement

  • Note: Anything that is paid for by credit card or any method other than cash must have your name on it. Accounts Payable will not reimburse students for someone else's expense.
  • For anything paid for by cash, check, or credit card: original dated receipts.
  • For anything paid by check: a copy of the canceled check (front and back).
  • For airline flights, a copy of the travel itinerary showing the cost of the flight. Boarding passes are NOT redeemable for reimbursement.
  • A completed check request form. This document can be obtained from the Office of Graduate Studies when turning in your receipts.
  • A copy of your award letter from the GSA.
  • At minimum, a short, two paragraph description of the event and how you benefited from attending it that will be posted to the GSA blog and possibly the Emerson website. This must be emailed to as well.
  • The rules of the College apply for reimbursement of Transportation (by the most economical means available), Lodging (excluding food), and Registration Fees.

Reimbursement for Shared Accommodation

Since all claims for reimbursement must be supported by original receipts, only the person whose name is on a hotel bill may use that bill to claim for reimbursement. If you are sharing a hotel room, the easiest solution is to arrange for each of the occupants to pay for different nights on separate hotel bills.

If a group of students are sharing an accommodation and only one student is paying for the room, all students must inform the GSA which student is paying on the application form, and the cost of the accommodation. The GSA will subtract a portion of each student's PDG award and add these portions to the PDG award of the student paying for the accommodation. Students should carefully select reasonably-priced accommodations in this situation; as the cost of the accommodation goes up, the amount of money taken from each person’s PDG award will also rise.

Students must inform the GSA that they are sharing a room no later than two weeks before the event, so the GSA can redistribute the PDG awards.

Reimbursement Checks

Check requests are reviewed by the dean of graduate students and submitted to the Accounts Payable office on a 1-2 week basis. Reimbursement checks are issued on Fridays by the Emerson College Finance Department. Normally, it takes 2-3 weeks after submitting a check request to receive a PDG reimbursement check.

Note: Occasionally, PDG reimbursement checks are combined with other checks from the college, such as refunds.

Email with questions.