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The criteria to apply for a GSS Travel Award are: (1) to be a registered UTK graduate student (not graduating prior to travel) in good standing, (2) traveling within the next GSS travel period, (3) have not received a GSS Travel Award previously this academic year, (4) able to cover a portion travel expenses, and (5) going to a conference/event in order to present original research. [See the following questions for more information on each of these criteria.]


Check with your department! They will be able to make sure that you are (a) registered, (b) a UTK student, and (c) a graduate student. All three conditions MUST be met in order to be eligible for GSS Travel Awards. In most cases, any graduate student who is registered for credit hours at UTK the semester in which he or she will be traveling is eligible. “Graduate student” here means Masters, Ph.D., and/or professional students.


Unfortunately, you are not eligible. In order to be considered for a GSS Travel Award, you must have completed your travel prior to graduating from UTK.


You should apply for the funding cycle with “Travel Dates” corresponding to the dates of the conference you will be attending. Any application with dates lying outside of that cycle’s “Travel Dates” will be automatically rejected.


That is perfectly fine! If you have travel dates corresponding to two different GSS funding cycles, you may apply for EITHER one (but only one). For instance, if you are attending a conference running from April 28 – May 3, you would be eligible to apply for EITHER Spring OR Summer funding.


Each graduate student may receive a GSS Travel Award once each academic year (i.e. once in any of our Fall, Spring, OR Summer cycles). An “academic year” will always start with the Fall cycle and end with the Summer cycle.


Yes! The “academic year” ends with Summer, so if you have received a GSS Travel Award during the Summer cycle of the previous academic year, you ARE eligible to receive a GSS Travel Award during the Fall cycle of the upcoming academic year for a different conference.


Unfortunately, GSS does not have the funds to cover every student, even those who receive GSS Travel Awards, at 100% of their funding need. If a student is not able to fund a portion total travel cost, GSS will likely not be able to support a student enough for them to be able to go. We like to make that known upfront, so students do not have unrealistic expectations as to how much their GSS Travel Award will be.


The criteria to receive GSS travel funding is for you to be traveling in order to “present original research”. This is purposefully very broad, as what “presenting original research” means varies widely by discipline. If you are presenting a paper or poster, giving a talk, or serving on a panel at a conference, that counts. If you are an art student traveling to create an art display, that counts. If you are a music student traveling to perform your music somewhere, that counts. But this list is non-exhaustive! GSS tries very hard to be inclusive, and the GSS Travel Awards have reached every department on campus. If you are not sure if your travel is eligible for a GSS Travel Award, feel free to email and ask!


Again, GSS wording here is purposefully broad, in order to be as all-encompassing as possible for every department. “Original” greatly varies by department, but for most departments can be thought of as anything publishable. If you/your advisor will be publishing this work, it likely qualifies as “original”. An example of an application which would get rejected solely on the “original” criteria would be a student applying to attend a workshop where he or she is presenting a computer package he or she did not write or in any way modify; rather, the student is just presenting someone else’s already well-established work.


Unfortunately, GSS only has limited funds with which to distribute for graduate travel and these funds may ONLY be used for presenting original research. This means if the purpose of your trip is anything other than for the presentation of original research, you are NOT eligible to apply for a GSS Travel Award. Example trips NOT eligible include: a field biologist traveling to his/her field site to collect samples, an anthropologist traveling to his/her study site, a historian traveling to a library with a needed special collection, an artist traveling to shadow or be an apprentice to an expert, any internship experience, etc. Again, this list is not exhaustive and only meant to provide an idea for what is NOT funded by GSS. Any application without evidence of presenting original research will be automatically denied.


Again: Unfortunately, GSS only has limited funds with which to distribute for graduate travel and these funds may ONLY be used for presenting original research. This means if the purpose of your trip is simply to attend a conference, workshop, etc., you are NOT eligible to apply for a GSS Travel Award.


Unfortunately, GSS can only allocate funding for one conference per graduate student per academic year. This means if one student will be attending more than one conference in the same cycle of GSS funding, he or she MUST choose only ONE of those conferences with which to apply for a GSS Travel Award. While this decision of which conference lies solely with the student, the student is advised to apply using the one conference which he or she is guaranteed to go to, the international one, the more expensive one, etc. This decision cannot be reversed after the GSS Travel Awards deadline.


No! All GSS Travel Awards are tied to the conference with which each student applies for a GSS Travel Award, and GSS Travel Awards are non-transferrable. This means that if a student applies for a conference but ends up not going (for whatever reason), the student must forfeit his or her entire GSS Travel Award for that cycle of funding.


Yes! If you have forfeited or declined a GSS Travel Award for any reason, you ARE still eligible to apply in the future. As long as you have not used any GSS Travel Award funding that academic year, you may still apply for future cycles within that same academic year.

Application Process


In order to apply, you must submit an online application AND obtain funding information and electronic signatures on your application from your advisor, department head, and college dean. All signatures MUST be submitted by the deadline in order to be eligible. Make sure that all information submitted on the online application is 100% accurate! Find out more information on our online application page, which includes a step-by-step video tutorial for completing the application and obtaining signatures.


You may apply at any point up until 5pm on the deadline listed for the cycle in which your conference is. GSS strongly encourages students to complete and turn in their applications ahead of these deadlines. Note that you will need to allow sufficient time (we recommend one-week minimum) before the deadline for your advisor, department head, and college dean to review your application and provide their funding information and electronic signatures.


All GSS Travel Award deadlines can be found on the GSS Travel Awards website. Take note of the 3 funding cycles (Fall, Spring, Summer) each academic year, as well as the different deadlines and instructions for the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Education, Health, & Human Sciences vs. all other colleges.


These two colleges each collect all their students’ applications early in order to award College funding to their students as well. A&S and EHHS funding is typically around $50-100 per student, though these amounts can vary. Students in either of these colleges must submit their application to their respective college by that earlier deadline. These two colleges will then have their deans electronically sign and allocate college funding to each application, with the updated information automatically being sent to GSS.


You should click the “Edit Response” button in the top-left corner of the Google Forms confirmation email and update your application with all the correct information as soon as possible. GSS automatically imports this data you submit online, so it is necessary for it all to be correct. The most recent online application submitted to GSS by each student is what will be used by GSS.


In some disciplines, these are very normal terms; in others, they do not make much sense. Here is how GSS defines them: “Invitation Only” means you have been specifically invited to a conference as a speaker or a special guest. Further, you should submit a letter or email from the conference or event’s governing body that you can provide to GSS as proof of being invited (“Dear Mr. John Doe, You are invited to give a talk at…”). In general, these are pretty rare, but often prestigious. “Peer-Reviewed” means you had to APPLY to give a talk, poster, panel, etc. at a conference or event. If you had to submit an abstract, paper, or any kind of preview of your work, that then got reviewed by others in your field and ultimately accepted or rejected, you should select “Peer-Reviewed”. This category is typically the most common. “Open Call” is when there is simply an open call for talks, posters, etc. at a conference or event, and everyone who submits to present one and pays the registration fee is accepted; there is no peer review process in place.


Different disciplines have different terms for each of these things. For GSS, “Paper” refers to any oral presentation being given by you (whether it is formally presenting a “paper” or otherwise). “Poster” is the presentation of a poster. “Panel” is when you will be a member of a multi-person panel on stage, all presenting simultaneously via a discussion or Q&A. “Other” is reserved for anything falling outside these 3 categories: art displays, theater shows, musical performances, etc. If you are unsure where your presentation falls, feel free to just describe it well in this “Other” category.


Primary author refers to whether or not you would be the first author listed should that original research get published today. If you would be first author, check “Yes” for “Primary Author”. If your advisor or anyone else would instead be first author, check “No” for “Primary Author”.


Most people are primary presenters, meaning conducting the presentation by themselves. However, anytime there is more than one individual presenting the same original research, you should check “No” for “Primary Presenter”. For example, if you are presenting jointly (same poster, talk, presentation, etc.) with your labmate and both are applying for GSS Travel Awards, each of you should check “No” for “Primary Presenter”.


It does not matter if your conference does not require an abstract – GSS does! Any GSS Travel Awards application without a relevant abstract <250 words will automatically be rejected. Regardless of what conference or event you are presenting at, even if the conference/event does not require it, you should write an abstract describing what you will be doing/presenting.


Sure! We encourage it. GSS recognizes that many abstracts will be technical and not all GSS members will be able to understand everything in an abstract. That’s fine! If what you are presenting at your conference/event is technical material, so be it.


No! We require a word limit of less than 250. While having 251 words in your abstract will not get your application rejected, we do request you stay as close to 250 as possible. Please do NOT in any circumstance provide an entire paper in place of a <250 word abstract, even if that is what you had to submit to a conference instead of an abstract.


Proof of submission can be a screenshot of an email, letter, confirmation page, etc. saying that your presentation has been submitted for the conference. Proof of acceptance can be a screenshot of an email or letter that your presentation has been accepted, a screenshot of the conference program listing your name, etc. Note that if you mark “Invitation Only” for your conference, your proof of acceptance uploaded here MUST be the invitation letter from the conference or its organizers inviting you to give a presentation. Failure to submit to GSS proof of acceptance OR submission results in automatic rejection of your application.


That’s fine! You need only have SUBMITTED a presentation to a conference in order to apply for a GSS Travel Award. At the time of your GSS Travel Awards application, you should submit to GSS proof of your submission/application to the conference for your presentation. Note that when you submit your paperwork for reimbursement, you WILL have to provide proof of acceptance in order to receive your reimbursement.


This is a rare situation, but can happen, particularly for conferences lying at the very end of a funding cycle’s travel dates. In this case, you should upload with your online application under “Proof of acceptance or submission” a screenshot of the conference website that explicitly says when applications will begin to be accepted. In addition, you should make a note of this in your application (with the abstract) and/or email to make sure GSS is aware.


It is perfectly fine to estimate the costs needed for you to present at a conference. While you WILL have to show exactly what you paid in order to get reimbursed, you do NOT need to have already paid in order to apply for a GSS Travel Award. You would instead look up all these costs (flight, hotel, ground transportation, etc.) and list on the GSS online application your best, reasonably-priced estimate for each.


After filling out your application, you will need to forward the Google Forms confirmation email to your advisor, department head, and college dean. They can click “Edit Response” in the top-left corner of the forwarded email to provide their funding information and electronic signatures. At any time, you can also click “Edit Response” to see if they have provided their funding information and electronic signatures. Please provide sufficient time for your advisor, department head, and college dean to review your application before the deadline. Your application is NOT considered complete if you have not obtained all electronic signatures before the deadline.


The signatures page is posted on the main information page of the GSS Travel Awards website. This signatures page will include spaces for FOUR signatures (the applicant, advisor, department head, and college dean), and any funding amounts coming from your advisor, department, or college.


All signatures are obtained electronically through Google Forms. As long as your advisor has internet access, they will be able to click “Edit Response” in the forwarded Google Forms confirmation email to provide their funding information and electronic signature.


No! Any GSS Travel Awards application missing any one or more of the required electronic signatures (advisor, department head, college dean) prior to the GSS funding cycle deadline will be automatically rejected. There are no exceptions.


No! The new process is entirely paperless. You’ll need to forward the Google Forms confirmation email to your advisor, department head, and college dean after filling out your online application. These individuals can click “Edit Response” in the top-left corner of the forwarded email to review your application and provide their funding information and electronic signatures. This information will automatically be transferred to GSS when your advisor, department head, or college dean hits “Submit.”

Please provide sufficient time for your advisor, department head, and college dean to review your application before the deadline. Your application is NOT considered complete if you have not obtained all electronic signatures before the deadline.


You should submit it early! It is the student’s responsibility that their application gets submitted on time, with all necessary signatures, and to the right office. There is no problem with you submitting your online application and electronic page days, weeks, or even a month or more ahead of the final deadline.


If you will be away from UTK throughout the entire application period (i.e. the months leading up to the funding cycle in which you will be applying), please contact Exceptions can be made in such circumstances (but only BEFORE the deadline), but please note that all electronic signatures must be received by 5 pm on the day of the final deadline.

Review Process


GSS Travel Awards are determined by the GSS Travel Awards Committee, a Committee consisting of GSS Senators (graduate and professional students) from departments and colleges across campus. All senators are volunteering their time by being on this committee. The committee is led by the GSS Travel Awards Committee Chairperson (reachable at It is required to be a GSS Senator in order to be on the GSS Travel Awards Committee, but if you are interested in helping with GSS (via travel awards or otherwise), we’d love to have you! Just email

Once the committee has agreed on the awards allocation, the awards are approved by the Dean of the Graduate School before the awards are issued.

Regardless of when you submit your GSS Travel Awards application, the GSS Travel Awards Committee only meets 3 times a year (corresponding to the 3 annual funding cycles). The Committee will meet within a week of the final deadline for each of these annual funding cycles (Fall, Spring, Summer). However, award decisions must then get approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. Such approval takes about a week on average, but can take longer. As such, all students will receive their final award decisions about 1-3 weeks after the final GSS Travel Awards deadline.


The GSS Travel Awards Committee will meet to decide on the “rank” of each application. More information about this ranking process is available in the GSS Travel Awards Workshop. The application’s “rank” will determine the percentage a student gets funded at, and their overall need will determine how much his or her GSS Travel Award is.


All award decisions are provided to students via email. These will be sent to the same email address that the signatures page was sent to. Award decisions are sent for applicants who were both awarded and rejected.


GSS ONLY sends award notifications to the students themselves. If a department, advisor, or anyone else needs a copy of this letter, it is the sole responsibility of the student to forward or otherwise provide a copy of this letter to each other individual.


There are many reasons a GSS Travel Awards application can get rejected. Some common ones include: (1) Turning in an online application or electronic signatures AFTER the deadline. (2) Turning in an incomplete application (missing one or more electronic signatures, no relevant abstract, no proof of acceptance OR submission, etc.), (3) Not presenting original research, and (4) Financial need already met (from department, college, etc.). Any one of these will result in automatic rejection every time.


Contact! We firmly believe in full transparency of our travel awards process, so we are more than happy to walk through it with you so you can understand why you were rejected and hopefully that will help you apply again in the future. Human errors are of course also possible. If you’re not sure, always ask!


Reimbursement Process


ALL receipts are required for airfare, lodging, registration costs, etc.! Food, drinks, entertainment, etc. are NOT reimbursable, so those receipts are not necessary. If you have a specific question about what can and cannot get reimbursed by the university, your department should be able to help answer that.


Every student turns all receipts, paperwork, and a copy of their GSS Travel Award letter in through their respective departments. You should also contact your department well ahead of your travel, so they know about it and can start getting the paperwork ready for you. Some departments like this information far ahead of time, so it is always better to inform your department early. Any specific questions about reimbursement paperwork can be handled through the department.


No! Unfortunately, GSS is not allowed to provide reimbursement for any meals, drinks, entertainment, etc. As such, GSS is NOT allowed to reimburse for per diem.


This number will be located on the bottom of your award letter, if you receive a GSS Travel Award.



Your department will submit your reimbursement request to the Graduate School, who ultimately issues reimbursements. Reimbursements are then delivered to you via direct deposit.


This can really depend, based on how fast your department is at submitting the paperwork for you, whether this falls over any holidays where UT is closed (particularly over the winter break), etc. Some students get reimbursed within a week and others up to 6 weeks, but most students will get reimbursed within a month. The first place to ask about your reimbursement is your department, to make sure they have already submitted it.


Any unused award amount will be reclaimed by GSS. Every student can only get reimbursed up to the total amount from receipts he or she submitted OR the GSS Travel Award amount he or she was awarded, whichever is lower.



In each past GSS funding cycle, travel awards have been given to students in nearly every college and in over 50 different departments at UTK.


GSS allocates $240,000 every year to graduate student travel. While this may sound like a lot, remember there are nearly 6,000 graduate and professional students at UTK and over $1,000,000 is requested annually by UTK graduate and professional students wishing to travel.


While the average student is funded at about 50-60% of their requested amount, such requested amounts will vary widely (for instance, a conference in Nashville, TN vs. in Beijing, China). The average GSS Travel Award amount is around $400-500 each funding cycle, but the exact amount for each student/conference values vary widely, from <$100 to >$1000.