Due to unprecedented interest, all 2023-2024 Graduate Student Professional Development Funds have been allocated to USM graduate students.

The Graduate Student Professional Development Fund was created to provide financial support for graduate students pursuing professional development opportunities beyond the classroom. These are opportunities that broaden intellectual understanding, hone professional practice, facilitate professional connections and allow networking with colleagues and peers.

IMPORTANT: We cannot reimburse for purchases that have already been made. Please wait for application approval and specific instructions from the Office of Graduate Studies before spending your own money on expenses that you are seeking reimbursement for.

About Graduate Student Professional Development Fund (GSPDF)

Graduate students may apply up to two for a maximum of $1000 to cover related expenses per academic year. Given funding limitations, application does not guarantee support. All students matriculated in a graduate degree program and enrolled in at least 3 credits are invited to apply and must be in good standing with the university. Some programs have independent funds to support these activities; students should check with the director of their program for more information.

Applications must be completed at least 2 weeks prior to the event date. Applications must be submitted prior to the event occurrence and will only be supported if funding remains available.

Professional Development opportunities include but are not limited to:

  • Conference registration fees
  • Travel expenses related to trainings or conferences
  • Professional development trainings (including through USM’s Professional Development Programs Office)
  • Professional organization memberships
  • Travel costs associated with USM study abroad courses
  • Honorarium to invite speakers to campus to present to graduate students

Funding may NOT be used for the following:

  • Costs associated with any program requirements, including academics, field experience, practicum, research, or clinical requirements
    • This may include, but is not limited to: background checks, CPR certification, immunizations, textbooks, research expenses, travel expenses
  • Board certification fees related to licensure in your field of study (including study materials)
  • Food expenses

Application Process

In order to be reviewed for funding, applications must be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the date of the event. Applications will not be considered if submitted after an event takes place. 

Direct Payment Process

In most cases, the Graduate Student Professional Development Fund will be able to pay fees on your behalf. This must be coordinated with the Office of Graduate Studies and may require you to set up a time to meet with our staff.

Once payment is made on your behalf it remains YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to provide all applicable receipts related to the payment.

**If the GSPDF pays for any expense on your behalf and, if for any reason, you do not participate in the event, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to reimburse the GSPDF for all funds not used.**

** If at any time your eligibility for funding changes, you will be required to forfeit your award or reimburse the GSPDF for funds already used.**

Note: Summer funding is reimbursement only.

Reimbursement Process

Any reimbursement request must be approved before the transaction can be processed. Applications for reimbursement will not be approved after an event has already taken place.

Per university policy, you cannot be reimbursed until AFTER your travel/event takes place.

You may be reimbursed for expenses within 45 days of the event taking place. If proper documentation is not received within this timeframe, you will not be reimbursed.

The Graduate Student Professional Development Fund uses Concur to process reimbursements. If you do not already have a Concur account, one will be created for you. Once it is active, it is your responsibility to follow these reimbursement directions and assign the designated GSPDF coordinator as your delegate and set up your direct deposit. The coordinator will then process the reimbursement on your behalf. If you do not assign the delegate, you will not be reimbursed.

Please note that direct deposit for reimbursement is NOT the same direct deposit information used for tuition reimbursement. Direct deposit expedites the receipt of reimbursement funds and eliminates the possibility of mailing delays.

*Reimbursement granted ONLY with a valid receipt.

**A valid receipt is one that shows the charges incurred and the payment made. Documents that are NOT acceptable include: credit card/bank statement, screenshot of a website or membership card, invoices showing a charge only, hotel receipts in someone else’s name, certificate of study.

Summer Funding

To be eligible for summer funding you must be enrolled in either a summer course or be enrolled in the following fall semester. Summer is considered part of the next academic year. 

*Students graduating in August will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

**One you graduate you ARE NOT eligible for funding or reimbursement of any kind. Even if you have been awarded funds, if we do not have all necessary documents to process that award by the day you graduate, you will forfeit the funding.


Who Can Apply?

Any matriculated graduate student currently enrolled in at least one class during the semester for which funding is requested. You are eligible to receive funding up until the day you graduate. (Note: Students enrolled in an accelerated online program are not eligible).

Can I apply more than once?

Yes, but you may not receive more than $1000 per academic year, and may only submit up to two applications for funding. Individual awards may be limited, per the discretion of the OGS office, in order to provide a more equitable distribution of funding.

We are all going to the same conference. Can we apply as a group?

No. Each student must apply individually.

Can I get reimbursed for food expenses?

No. Food expenses are not to be covered by the fund.

I’ve already booked my travel; can I get reimbursed today?

Per university policy, you cannot be reimbursed until AFTER your travel takes place.

Am I guaranteed funding?

No. We ask all interested students to apply by the priority deadline posted each semester. Applications received by this date will be given first access to funding. Even then, we will not guarantee funding to any one student prior to applying.

Can I apply in the fall for a spring conference?


I can’t attend my original training. Can I transfer my funds to a different professional development activity?

You may be able to transfer the funds to another activity, though this is considered on a case-by-case basis. You will need approval from the OGS office to do so.

I am required to attend a conference as part of a class I am enrolled in; does this qualify for GSPDF funding?

No. If the activity is a requirement of your course it will not qualify for funding.

These guidelines were developed in conjunction with a steering committee composed of graduate students and staff members.

Prior to applying for an award, please review all policies pertaining to eligibility and qualifications for awards. Incomplete, inaccurate or ineligible applications will not be considered. 

Students are required to submit an application through the webform to be considered for an award. All applications for FALL activities must be received by November 1st. For opportunities in the Spring semester, you may submit an application anytime up until April 1st, so long as funds are available. The Office of Graduate Studies will close the application if funds are exhausted prior to these deadlines.

Please note the following:

  • Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and notification will be sent within four weeks. Please allow at least 2 weeks for application review prior to the start of your professional development opportunity. Applications may not be submitted after an event takes place.
  • Although applications may be submitted by a certain date, the awarding of funding is determined on a rolling basis and is not guaranteed
  • There is no guarantee that a submitted application will be granted an award
  • Students will be awarded pending availability of funding. Funding may be exhausted at any time and is not guaranteed to remain available through the set deadline each semester
  • Students in an accelerated online program, certificate program, or MFA program do not pay into the fund as part of their tuition and are not eligible.

Students are required to apply using the webform which is linked above. Please read all instructions prior to applying.  

Your application must be complete to be considered. Follow the prompts carefully and be thorough.

Once you hit submit, your application will be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies for review.

OGS makes every attempt to notify students of their award within four weeks of receiving their application. 

Once we receive your application we will review it thoroughly. If your application is incomplete, inaccurate or ineligible, it will not be considered for funding. These are the items we will be checking to ensure eligibility and accuracy:

  • Matriculation Status (Note: Students enrolled in an Accelerated Online Program or the Creative Writing MFA are not eligible)
  • Is the student enrolled during the semester for which funding is requested
  • If student has paid the GSPDF fee noted as: ‘GR St Prof Development Fee’ in MaineStreet account
  • Is the student making satisfactory academic progress
  • Has the student received previous GSPDF funding and if so, the amount received 
  • We will check the event/course/membership fee that each student is requesting funding for is legitimate and the amount requested aligns with said activity/event. 

Notify student via email of award status

  • This email will contain valuable information and instructions that must be followed in order to process your award. It is essential that students read through this email carefully.  

OGS will check to see if the student has an active Concur account. If not, we will request that Procurement Services create one.

Within two weeks the student must accept their award or it will be forfeited and the funding will go back into the pool for other students.  

Once we receive your acceptance, we will ask you if you would like us to pay on your behalf, you would like to be reimbursed (keep in mind you may not be reimbursed until AFTER your event/activity has ended) or a combination of both. 

Students are expected to communicate their needs promptly and clearly with the OGS representative and provide that person with all of the necessary information they need to move forward. 

  • If you would like us to pay, you are expected to arrange a time for a phone call or an in-person meeting at the OGS office so we can work together to get your expenses paid for. If this will not work for you, we can also communicate via email to arrange payment. 
  • If you would like reimbursement, you must provide our office with VALID receipts (see policies if you are unsure what a valid receipt is) and make the requested OGS representative your delegate in Concur. Again, you will not be reimbursed for any expenses until after your event has taken place. 
  • After payment has been decided upon, the student will need to provide OGS with all necessary receipts and respond to communcations from our office promptly. If receipts are not received, you will be expected to return the funds (if we paid) or you will not be reimbursed (if you paid). 

It is REQUIRED that all students who wish to apply for funding review all GSPDF policies.