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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 2008
Applying for Psi Chi Grants and Awards: Tips for
Writing Your Proposal

Virginia Andreoli Mathie, PhD, and Melissa Strickland
Psi Chi National Office

Psi Chi offers a grants and awards program that provides more than $300,000 to support and recognize outstanding research by its members as well as outstanding individual and collective leadership. This article offers tips on how to prepare strong submissions for these grants and awards. The article stresses the importance of identifying what must be submitted in the application, providing the information in an organized and professional manner, and submitting the application by the appropriate deadline.

The Psi Chi Constitution states that Psi Chi’s purpose is "to encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of the individual members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science of psychology (Psi Chi, n.d.).” As an honor society, Psi Chi promotes and recognizes academic excellence by the very act of inducting members. An equally important element of this purpose statement, however, is the part that notes Psi Chi’s commitment to advance psychological science. Psi Chi also promotes leadership development so that members will have the skills to be leaders not only in their chapters but also in their communities. Both of these goals are reflected in Psi Chi’s mission "to produce a well-educated, ethical, and socially responsible member committed to contributing to the science and profession of psychology and to society in general (Psi Chi, n.d.).”

In order to achieve its purpose and mission, Psi Chi offers a variety of grants and awards that annually provide more than $300,000 to members. Most of Psi Chi’s grants and some of its awards are designed to support and recognize outstanding student research. Other awards recognize outstanding individual leadership on the part of chapter presidents and chapter faculty advisors. Still other awards recognize collective leadership at the chapter level through awards for outstanding regional and national chapters. Information about all of Psi Chi’s grants and awards is available on the Psi Chi website (

The Psi Chi National Council established these awards and grants to benefit Psi Chi members. Not only do these resources help students with their research and recognize their achievements, participating in the awards and grants program can also make students stronger candidates for graduate school and employment. In previous Eye on Psi Chi articles, Koch (2005, 2007) presented timelines that showed how students could use Psi Chi’s grants and awards to maximize their learning, leadership skills, and success. Psi Chi National Council and staff members want to award all of these grants and awards! The funds are available, and we want to give them to deserving members. Before we can give the funds away, however, qualified members must apply for the grants and awards. The application process is not onerous, but it does take some time and planning to prepare a good submission. The purpose of this article is to offer tips for preparing a strong application for Psi Chi’s grants and awards, although many of these tips also apply to submissions for grants and awards offered by other organizations.

  1. Become knowledgeable about Psi Chi grants and awards. Psi Chi members are often surprised to learn how many grants and awards Psi Chi offers. In order to apply for awards and grants, you need to know about them. Psi Chi lists all of its grants and awards on the Psi Chi website. At the beginning of the academic year, check the website and read carefully the guidelines for those grants and awards that might be of interest to you. Note the deadlines for these grants and awards in your daily planner and keep information about these grants and awards close at hand. To get reminders about awards and grants deadlines, you may want to sign up for the Psi Chi Digest at lists.asp. To access this site, you will need to log on as a member first. The digest will allow you to begin receiving National Office emails containing reminders about upcoming deadlines beginning in August 2008. Your chapter could also assist members in becoming more aware of Psi Chi’s grants and awards by making and distributing bookmarks that list the awards and grants along with their deadlines or by appointing a vice-president or chairperson for grants/awards who would be responsible for reminding members about upcoming grants and awards and encouraging members to apply for them. Your chapter could also start a mentoring service whereby members who have won grants or awards in the past mentor new members on how to apply for grants and awards. The key is to know what is out there so you do not miss an important opportunity.
  2. Consider carefully the grant or award criteria. Psi Chi has cover sheets and guidelines for all of its grants and awards. The guidelines describe criteria by which submissions will be evaluated. Pay attention to the criteria and think about how your experience, your project, or your chapter meets these criteria. Talk with other chapter members or your faculty chapter advisor about your intent to apply for the grant or award and the designated criteria. Sometimes you may overlook things you have done that would demonstrate you are a strong applicant; input from others might help you to identify these additional strengths. Another resource that will help you get a better sense of what is expected for our grants and awards is the previous winners section of the Psi Chi website. This section contains abstracts and in some cases entire reports of previous winners’ submissions. As you think about the criteria, give some thought to the content and organization of your submission so that it will be clear to reviewers that you meet, or better yet exceed, these criteria. After considering the grant’s or award’s criteria, if you decide you do not meet the criteria, do not give up! Make a list of what you or your chapter needs to do to become a strong contender next year and then formulate a plan so you or your chapter will be ready to apply next year.
  3. Prepare in advance. When you have identified the grant or award to which you or your chapter want to apply, plan early and gather relevant information well before the application deadline. If the submission requires a letter of support from your faculty chapter advisor, your research supervisor, your department chairperson, or someone else, inform the person three or four weeks in advance of the deadline that you would like him or her to write a letter. Give the person a copy of the award or grant cover sheet so that he or she knows how to focus the letter. If specific criteria are important, for example GPA, research experience, or Psi Chi participation, you may wish to provide the person with supporting documentation such as your transcript containing your GPA, your curriculum vita listing your research, or a list detailing Psi Chi activities in which you have been involved. Be sure to provide the link for submission of the letter of recommendation or support. We recommend that you send an email containing the link to the person so he or she can simply click the link in the email to access the appropriate page. Ask the person to submit the letter about one week before the deadline. If you have not received an emailed confirmation of receipt of the recommendation by the National Office one week prior to the deadline, gently remind the person to submit the letter online as soon as possible. If the grant or award requires that you submit an official transcript or other official documents, make arrangements to get those documents well in advance of the application deadline.
  4. Gather all the information requested. Be sure that you provide all the information that is required for the grant or award. Reviewers have a difficult time evaluating incomplete submissions; applications that are missing key elements are typically scored lower. Use the cover sheet for the award or grant as a checklist to make sure that your application is complete.
  5. Organize the submission as requested. Many grants and awards request that applicants organize their applications in a specific manner. If this is the case for your grant or award, use the organizational structure and headings outlined on the cover sheet. If the instructions do not specify a specific organization, think carefully about how to organize your submission so that it demonstrates you, your project, and/or your chapter meet the stated criteria; it makes it easy to see you included all the information that was requested; and it flows in a logical manner.
  6. Write clearly, concisely, and correctly. Reviewers are influenced by the professional quality of the submission. You should attend diligently to your writing style to make sure it is professional with correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting. An application might have all of the information requested and meet the basic criteria, but if the submission is poorly written the reviewers will have difficulty understanding it and will likely rate the submission lower than one that is professionally written.
    Psi Chi’s guidelines require applicants to use the publication format of the American Psychological Association (APA) so make sure you use this format (APA, 2001). For example, make sure the abstract is not over 120 words and the title is 12 words or less. For grant proposals, a challenging component is the method section. When applying for a grant, it is important to realize that the reviewers need to understand the components of the study, so be sure to follow the appropriate format and include the standard elements. These elements include who your participants will be, how you will recruit your participants, what apparatus you will use, and how you will conduct your project. Also, be sure to match the timeframe for your project to the grant. For example, projects for Summer Research Grants must be completed in 10 weeks and so typically they would be less complicated than Undergraduate Research Grant projects that are conducted over a one-year period. A good website to review for assistance with the method section is PSYCH/apa4b.htm#llD (Plonsky, 2007).
    To improve the quality of your submission, try to complete your submission two weeks prior to the deadline. This will allow time for you to request that your faculty chapter advisor or research supervisor review it and give you feedback. If your school has a writing lab, you may also want to make an appointment with a staff person at the lab to get additional feedback.
  7. Submit your application by the stated deadline. All applications for Psi Chi grants and awards are submitted electronically. Typically the submission site opens no later than one month prior to the deadline for the grant or award. Note the deadline for your grant or award on your personal calendar and if possible, submit the application at least two or three days before the deadline. Remember that Psi Chi cannot accept submissions after the stated deadline.
  8. If you do not succeed the first time, try again. Sometimes the number of applicants for a particular award or grant precludes giving the grant or award to all deserving applicants. There are instances, however, when applications do not meet the grants’ or awards’ criteria or are poorly written. Following the suggestions in this article cannot guarantee that your application will be a winner, but if you do follow them, your application will be more competitive. If you really want that grant or award, don’t give up—try again!
Remember, Psi Chi wants to give out all of its awards and grants but we can only do that if members apply for them. If you have questions about Psi Chi’s grants and awards, send an email to We hope to receive your grant or award application in the coming academic year!

Tips for Writing Your Proposal
  1. Become knowledgeable about Psi Chi grants and awards.
  2. Consider carefully the grant or award criteria.
  3. Prepare in advance.
  4. Gather all the information requested.
  5. Organize the submission as requested.
  6. Write clearly, concisely, and correctly.
  7. Submit your application by the stated deadline.
  8. If you do not succeed the first time, try again.
American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Koch, C. (2005, Fall). Utilizing Psi Chi’s programs to maximize learning and success. Eye on Psi Chi, 10(1), 22.

Koch, C. (2007, Spring). Utilizing Psi Chi’s programs to maximize leadership skills. Eye on Psi Chi, 11(3), 22-23.

Plonsky, M. (2007). Psychology with style: A hypertext writing guide. Retrieved March 5, 2008, from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Psychology Department Website:

Psi Chi (n.d.). Purpose & mission statements. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from

Virginia Andreoli Mathie is the outgoing Executive Director of Psi Chi. She received her BMath in mathematics and computer science and her BA in psychology from the University of Waterloo (ONT) and her MA and PhD in social psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the Psi Chi staff in 2004, she taught at James Madison University (VA) for 29 years where she regularly supervised undergraduate student research teams. Dr. Mathie has held leadership positions in the American Psychological Association (APA), Society for the Teaching of Psychology (Division 2 of the APA), and the Virginia Psychological Association. In addition to receiving teaching and service awards from James Madison University, in 2000 she was named the APA Harry Kirke Wolfe Lecturer and in 2002 she won the APA’s Distinguished Contributions of Applications of Psychology to Education and Training Award.

Melissa Strickland is the Director of Finance/Awards for Psi Chi. She began working at the National Office in April of 2006 after 10 years in management and administrative positions at a large home-improvement retailer. Ms. Strickland graduated magna cum laude in 2002 with a BA in psychology and a BS in finance from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is a member of Psi Chi, Beta Gamma Sigma, Pi Gamma Mu, Golden Key, Phi Eta Sigma, and Alpha Lambda Delta.

Copyright 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 4) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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