How to Apply

The TRI Endowment Fellowship supports Masters and Doctoral level research in the tropics each year. Grants range from $2,000–8,000 and are awarded to 20–30 students per cycle. Over the past thirty years, TRI has supported over 600 student research projects in more than 60 different countries. Following the mission of YSE, these projects are interdisciplinary in nature and cover a wide range of issues that address the study, management, and conservation of tropical resources. TRI supports research in the social, natural, political, physical, economic, anthropogenic, biological, environmental sciences and humanities.  Some students choose to work with TRI’s established partners while others establish their own relationships with host organizations.

Here's how the TRI Fellowship application process works:


Friday February 2, 2024 at 1:00 PM ET - Fellowship proposals due for informal review and feedback, if wanted.

Weds March 6, 2024 at 1:00 PM ET - Fellowship proposals due by online submission.

Awards will be announced at the end of April.

Apply Online

All TRI Fellowship applications must be submitted via the Yale Student Grants Database. Use the keyword “tropical” to find the listing. Please begin the application and document upload process early to avoid overloading the site in the minutes before the deadline. You may save incomplete drafts prior to submitting.

Direct link to TRI in the student grant database.

Proposal Evaluation

Proposals are evaluated by the TRI Advisory Board according to the rubric provided below and on the basis of their contribution to our understanding of the social and ecological dimensions and the conservation and management of the tropical environment. The committee will also consider the soundness and feasibility of the proposed methods. TRI offers an opportunity to make revisions to their proposals before the March deadline, and final decisions will be announced in mid-April. 

Ensure that you have enough time to obtain any visas, research permits, IRB, etc. before your fieldwork!

A. Research Design

The applicant explains how the proposed methods are likely to result in data or evidence that will improve understanding of the research question or problem.

B. Preparation

The applicant demonstrates adequate personal preparation in the theory, methodological requirements, logistical planning and timeframe of their proposed research.

C. Justification

The applicant conveys the importance of their research through a well-structured, logical written proposal.

The Application

Interested students will need to submit the following information as part of their application through the Yale Student Grants Database:

  1. Proposal Narrative
  2. Budget
  3. Research Schedule
  4. CV/Resume
  5. Unofficial Yale Transcript
  6. Advisor Approval 

1. Proposal Narrative

The proposal narrative should include the following sections. The text of your proposal must adhere to the 2-page limit. You may attach one additional page for references in the style appropriate to your discipline and one additional page for your research schedule (see below). See the sidebar for samples of successful proposal narratives. Ensure that you follow the formatting and typsetting requirements.

A. Problem statement, research questions and objectives, AND HYPOTHESES and PREDICTIONS.

Problem Statement Define the problem you propose to examine and explain why it is important. There are good reasons and bad reasons to choose a research project! Your research can be in any field of investigation, from social to natural, and study patterns, processes, or phenomena.

Research Questions and Objectives Your research question should develop logically from the problem statement, and your research objectives (what you intend your research to accomplish) should develop logically from the research question. Your research could be exploratory, descriptive, explanatory, or predictive. Your research could be qualitative or quantitative.  However, be realistic about what you can achieve in the time frame that you have to conduct your research.

Hypotheses and Predictions If possible, try and include a hypothesis (a claim about how the world works that is not yet well tested but is testable). This should be followed by a prediction (a deduction of an observable outcome from the hypothesis). The more specific, directional, and quantitative a prediction you can make, the better. 

The bulk of your proposal should then describe the planned (empirical) examination and tests of your questions, hypotheses and predictions.

B. Literature review.

The literature review should show how your proposed research fits into the larger theoretical frameworks or debates within the field of study and/or what practical solution will result from it. What is the gap in our collective knowledge that your proposal seeks to fill?

C. Field site selection and justification.

Describe your field site and explain why it is an appropriate location in which to pursue your research questions. If specific sites cannot be selected until you are in the field, describe how those sites will eventually be selected.

D. Methodology.

Make a clear and realistic connection between your research questions and the methods and analyses that you will use to answer them. Be as specific and concrete  as you can about what methods you will employ once you get to your field site.

Example 1. “To address Q1, I will collect 10 leaves sampled randomly from 10 randomly selected individual trees of each species. For each leaf, I will measure x and y. To test Hypothesis 1, I will calculate a t-test to compare whether species A has leaves twice the size of species B.”

Example 2. “To understand how gender relations influence outcomes in land-use disputes, I will:  1) observe and record community meetings where land-use conflicts are discussed and resolved;  2) interview stakeholders (across a range of relevant categories) about their personal experiences with land disputes; and 3) complete a textual analysis of all court decisions around land conflict between 1998-2011 (housed in town hall record office in Otovalo).”

E. Personal qualifications and research collaborations.

Describe what relevant technical and language skills you possess or plan to obtain. (Lack of appropriate language training in any research involving human subjects will disqualify proposals.) Describe any planned collaboration or affiliation with other researchers or organizations, local or otherwise. TRI strongly recommends local collaborators or research partners.

Proposal Format and Typesetting Requirements

To ensure that the application is fair and equitable, the proposal must be clear, readily legible, and conform to the following requirements:

  • Page limits: proposal (2 pages); references (1 page); research schedule (1 page).
  • Typeface: Use one of the following typefaces: Arial, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger; Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger; Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger.

A font size of less than 10 points may be used for mathematical formulas or equations, figure, table or diagram captions and when using a Symbol font to insert Greek letters or special characters. Applicants are cautioned, however, that the text must still be readable.

  • Margins: in all directions margins must be at least one inch.

2. Budget

You may request up to $8,000 USD support from TRI.

The application system provides fields for you to list all significant project expenses, including airfare, in-country transportation, room and board, equipment, supplies, stipends for field or research assistants, sample analysis, and other research expenses. You may use the TRI budget spreadsheet to prepare the information before entering it directly into the online application.

Inadmissible expenses include applicant salaries or stipends, and the cost of expensive equipment such as laptops and cameras. TRI will not fund equipment over $200.

Publication and conference fees are not supported by a TRI Fellowship. Yale has waivers and discounts for several open-access journals. TRI encourages publication in the journals of academic societies. TRI Fellows may request additional funding in the year following their award to support publication or presentation of their TRI research. TRI also covers registration for TRI Fellows at the annual Student Conference on Conservation Science in New York.

If you are applying to multiple Yale sources (as you should be), include the whole project budget and potential sources, as well as the amount you are requesting from TRI. Please note that your budget totals submitted to TRI and other Yale funding sources must match. 

3. Research Schedule

Describe your timeline for accomplishing the activities described in your proposal. A table, with a list of tasks in the left hand column and a list of months across the top can be an effective means of displaying this information.

4. CV/Resume

Please limit to two pages maximum. Reviewers will be looking at both background experience in your region and field and how this research fits within your broader career goals.

5. Unofficial Yale Transcript

Submit a Transcript Request Form to the YSE Registrar's Office. There is no fee for unofficial transcripts. PhD students (registered with GSAS) may include either a screenshot of their transcript or a pdf of their Degree Audit.

6. Advisor Approval 

Before your application can be reviewed, your advisor needs to sign-off from within the grant database. Once your application is ready and you submit it, your advisor will receive an email with a link. They log in, sign that they approve your project, and submit. No letter of recommendation is required.

Preparing for Payment

Receiving award funds from Yale can be a slow process, so we recommend setting some things up before you are notified whether or not you have been awarded a fellowship. Most of this paperwork is needed for any YSE funds you receive, TRI or otherwise.

  1. Zelle - Most students now receive their award via Zelle. To receive your funds, you need to set up Zella with a US bank account and your Yale email address. There are more instructions hereDirect Deposit - To receive your funds as a direct deposit to your bank account, you must provide: (i) a filled out ACH/EFT Enrollment form, and (ii) one of the four documentation options (bank statement header, void check, signed bank letter, or other bank document). Send both the form and the document to the YSE Business Office (or to TRI for forwarding). This is a separate process from being paid for a campus job, so please check with TRI if you are unsure whether you are set up for direct deposit.
  2. Vendor Setup - All payees must be registered as Yale vendors. To do this, U.S. citizens and permanent residents must submit a W-9 form to TRI.   Non-U.S. citizens must submit a W-8BEN form to TRI.
  3. Tax Information for U.S. citizens and permanent residents: The tax payable on your fellowship depends on individual circumstances, but no additional documentation is needed. You should keep receipts and record all expenses.
  4.  Tax Information for International Students: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that the University apply specific tax withholding and reporting rules to payments made to individuals who are neither U.S. citizens nor U.S. permanent residents (i.e., green card holders).  For fellowships for research/study within the U.S., the University is required to withhold federal income tax at a rate of 14 percent from amounts paid to nonresident aliens (NRA) whose current immigration status is F or J; these payments are reported on Form 1042-S at year-end.  For research/study abroad, the fellowship is considered foreign source income, not subject to tax withholding or reporting. In order to properly determine U.S. tax residency, make sure you’ve completed the Foreign National Information System (FNIS) application with the International Tax Department.  For questions and to request the FNIS application link, please send email to
  5. IRB Exemption or Approval - For any research involving human subjects or interviews, you must obtain IRB exemption or approval prior to being awarded funding. This process may take weeks to months, so it is important to apply early.  Please refer to the overview on the Yale CIPE site, the Human Subjects Committee Review of Student Projects document, and the following two pages for more information: Getting Started and IRES-IRB.

Questions? Please contact the TRI Office and we'll be happy to help!