PhD Student Travel Award Guidelines

Why do we have these guidelines?

Conferences are an essential way for our PhD students to engage with their scholarly or professional communities, to present their work in appropriate circles and obtain feedback from their audiences, to learn about cutting-edge research in their field, to network, and to advance their professional development. We support these goals by providing student travel awards. As our funds are limited, we follow a certain process and guidelines as outlined. Our guiding principles for student travel funding allocation are:
- Acknowledging, appreciating, and considering the high level of diversity among our students with respect to areas of interest, communities, and community norms and standards.
- Equipping our students with vital experiences.
- Merit.
- Fairness and equity.

Eligibility for support

- Applicants must be registered and in good academic standing during the term the award is received.
- Applicants may receive up to two Travel Awards per academic year.
- Students may apply for a maximum of $1,000 per academic year.
- If students are traveling under University sponsorship and are traveling overseas, campus policy requires them to purchase CISI insurance through the Study Abroad Office. See details on the Study Abroad Office website.
- Awards may be offered as reimbursement for recently-completed travel or for upcoming travel.

These criteria entail a subset of the criteria used by the Graduate College (


Award amounts vary depending on the distance from Champaign to the conference. School-level travel support is considered to be a supplement, not to fully cover your trip. Requests for this support are highly competitive. We ask students to prepare their applications carefully.
Levels of support:
- Up to $300 for in-state travel
- Up to $500 for travel in the continental United States
- Up to $750 for North American travel outside the continental United States (i.e., Canada, Mexico, Alaska)
- Up to $1,000 for Hawaii and international travel

What about the Conference Travel Awards from the Graduate College?

The Graduate College provides awards of up to a limited amount for students to travel to professional conferences to present papers, posters, or creative work. Application is by department nomination only. In other words, students do not apply directly to the Graduate College. Instead, students submit materials to their department. We then select applications for submission to the Graduate College and submit those applications. For more information, see

Process for students (some of these steps involve the advisor)

- The student coordinates with their advisor on planned travel.
- The advisor informs the student about their financial resources for travel support.
- We encourage advisors and students to take this point into consideration when planning submissions to conferences that require travel.
- It is recommended that travelers plan as far in advance as possible so that they can obtain the best prices on air transportation and lodging.
- The student checks conference-level resources, such as serving as a student volunteer or applying for a conference travel grant, and community-wide resources (e.g., ACM-W). Plan ahead, deadlines can be months ahead of the conference date. For students, this may involve (learning how to) write proposals, dealing with administrative processes, and getting a letter from their advisor.
- Awards deadlines are listed below. If this conflicts with your acceptance decision timing, please contact the PhD program director.
- Once your contribution has been accepted, fill out and submit the travel support form.
- If an award was granted, after conference attendance, the student will submit proof of attendance. Proof of travel documents and/or official conference publication or notification that indicates the student's participation in the conference program are required in order for reward processing to be completed.
- In order for our school to process an award, the student needs to submit (via email is fine) proof of travel plans in the form of a receipt (i.e. airline reservation confirmation, conference registration, etc.). Once we receive that, we will be able to process an award.
- For international students, additional documentation may be required. As an international student, there are extra steps the University must go through in order to process an award for you. Please note that you may be contacted by University Payroll to provide additional documentation in support of the processing of this award.
- By accepting an award, you understand that this award will be applied to your University of Illinois student account. The award will be applied first to any balance the you may have. The remainder will be deposited to your bank account on file with the university in the form of a refund. This award may also affect any federal financial aid in the form of loans you have accepted. Eligible students are highly encouraged to contact the University of Illinois Financial Aid office understand how this award will individually affect them.
- Students may receive their travel funds from School endowments: in these cases, they will be expected to send the donor a thank-you note and a copy of the work presented at the conference.

Application and Notification calendar

Application Deadline Results Released
Sept 1st Sept 15th
Dec 1st Dec 15th
March 1st March 15th
June 1st June 15th

Selection principles

- We align priority of awarding support with the weight of the contribution. Exceptions might exist, but typically this means:

  • Receiving an award, or presenting an award-winning publication at a conference has high priority.
  • Peer-reviewed conferences have priority over non-peer-reviewed or editorreviewed conferences.
  • Top conferences in your field have priority over lower ranked conferences.
  • For contributions, we consider the following order of weight: full paper (normally 20-minute presentation and/or archival paper), short paper, poster (based on paper or abstract), workshop/symposium contribution, presentation based on extended abstracts, panelist, workshop or tutorial participation.
  • Invited talks with limited or no travel support can also be supported.
  • For the same co-authored submission, co-authoring students need to explain their role in the project. A coauthored work requires students to share the allocation or decide who will deliver the work at the conference.
  • As students progress in the program, we expect them to aim for higher-ranked types of submissions, e.g., a full paper at a peer-reviewed conference instead of a poster or presentation based on an extended abstract.

- Applications will be reviewed by the Executive Associate Director and the PhD program director.

Other types and sources of funding

The Graduate College Fellowship Office awards Dissertation Travel Grants in amounts up to $5,000 ( Awards are not granted for conference travel and usually will not reimburse travel that has already taken place. Students must be nominated by their department, and departments may nominate up to three students each.

Additional tips for students

- Practicing your presentation: the iSchool community is here for you to help you prepare for your presentation. For example, you can contact the organizer of the proseminar to give a practice talk there.
- We strongly encourage you to give back to the local PhD community as a result of travel funding. Examples include giving a talk at the proseminar (unless you already did a practice talk there), submitting a poster for display in the building, submitting your contribution to be presented at the Research Showcase (check to not violate the copyright of your paper), or having your abstract added to your online bio on the iSchool website.
We expect you to update your iSchool website with citations (and ideally links to fulltext), and to post the contribution in IDEALS if your copyright agreement permits that.

Further Questions

Please direct all questions to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Linda Smith, (217) 333-7742, lcsmith [at], or the PhD program director (217) 244-3576,%20ischool-phd [at] ( ).

General PhD Student Travel Approval and (if eligible) Reimbursement Guidelines

- When a trip for a student is approved (typically by the student’s advisor), the student fills out a travel request form, and submits that form to their advisor. Once the advisor approves the preliminary budget and form, the student can start making travel arrangements.
- If students have any questions about budgeting for a conference, e.g., what the typical costs are and how to estimate them, please contact your advisor. If questions remain, please contact the PhD Program Director.
- When you travel, keep all your receipts.
- Students are required to submit their receipts supporting travel expenses to the front office, cc'ing their advisor. We keep relevant vouchers and receipts on file for audit purposes.
- If students are traveling under University sponsorship and are traveling overseas, campus policy requires them to purchase CISI insurance through the Study Abroad Office. See details on the Study Abroad Office website.
- Additional tip: Practicing your presentation: the iSchool community is here for you to help you prepare for your presentation. For example, you can contact the organizer of the proseminar to give a practice talk there.