FAQ about IRWG/Rackham Community of Scholars

Can you tell me more COS and its requirements?
IRWG has been delighted to fund and host COS with Rackham for over 20 years. COS provides space for graduate students researching women’s, gender, or sexuality studies topics. The fellowship is an opportunity to share a specific piece of your work in progress with an interdisciplinary group of graduate students and the faculty leader. COS participants should be open to interdisciplinary critique and support for their project, as well as be willing to read and critique the work of others outside their own field(s).

In practical terms, COS provides summer funding and health care for a graduate student who has reached candidacy.

The faculty leader of COS schedules weekly seminars for the first eight weeks of the summer. Attendance at these seminars is mandatory. An important benefit of the seminar is that a peer review community is formed. Participants often stay in touch with each other after the seminar and continue to review and support each other’s work. IRWG gives COS participants a platform to present their work in the fall at the Community of Scholars Symposium.

How should I describe my project in the application and what should I say about my summer project?
We typically advise students to provide the committee with a brief overview of your dissertation project. Next, discuss what piece of your dissertation/thesis you want to focus on during the summer. The project described for the summer should not be at the data collection stage, but should be ready to be written up and workshopped. In other words, think of the COS as a grant you are writing for support to work exclusively on writing a particular portion of your dissertation/thesis for a summer. This does not mean that aspects of what you end up working on cannot change. Rather, successful applicants usually communicate to the committee what they want to accomplish and how it fits into completing their degree as well as its scholarly importance. Students are strongly encouraged to speak to their advisor about what piece of their graduate project to work on during the upcoming summer.

Can I hold another fellowship or employment along with COS?
Rackham does not typically permit holding two fellowships simultaneously. If you believe your current fellowship permits this, please contact IRWG. Participants cannot hold employment over 10 hours per week.

Can I do the seminars remotely?
Seminar participants must be present in Ann Arbor for the first eight weeks of the fellowship. Medical or other emergencies will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Why does COS require students to be candidates by the start of the fellowship?
First, this only applies to Rackham PhD students; students in other graduate programs without candidacy requirements are exempt. Second, COS is designed as an opportunity for students who are at the stage where they are drafting the written portion of their graduate final projects and need support and feedback. Graduate students at an earlier stage are typically not as competitive for COS because they are not in a position to give a complete description of their dissertation project and to workshop their draft with peers.  

New this year: Due to reduced funding, IRWG is implementing a cost-share arrangement with students' home departments. Departments will have to agree to contribute $2,000 per doctoral student for summer participation in the Community of Scholars program. 

  • Click here to view a copy of the email text sent to department chairs this past summer explaining the need to ask for a cost share should your application be selected.
  • You may need to use this document to remind your chair or DGS about the situation or to explain it for the first time if you are applying from a department that has not sent students to the COS program recently or at all.

More questions? Contact: irwg.grad.funding@umich.edu