Attending scientific conferences is an important component of students' training and career development.
Getting Funding for Conference Travel
The right conference can introduce you to the research others are doing in your field even before it is published, and can give you opportunities to network and discuss your own work with key researchers from around the country and around the world. Conference travel can also be expensive, but there are many ways you may be able to find funding for your trip.
Follow these steps — in order — and begin your search early!
1) The first option for students to procure funding is from their graduate program, research advisor, or principal investigator. Contact your program administrator first to determine eligibility and reporting requirements.
2) Seek the funds of professional societies, government agencies and private foundations. The conference you seek to attend may offer support or discounts for student attendees.
3) If you are receiving a fellowship, you should inquire about the availability of travel funds through the fellowship administrator.
4) Nursing students ONLY: Visit the Associated Students of the School of Nursing webpage for information about their travel awards and conference reimbursement.
5) If you are presenting your research at a scientific conference and you are enrolled in a degree granting program, you may apply for the Graduate Division Travel Award. Students in self-supporting programs are not eligible for this award. The ineligible programs are Advanced Training in Clinical Research MAS, Biomedical Imaging MS, Health Policy & Law MS, Health Care Administration MS, and Global Health Sciences MS.
Make the most of your trip!
- Go to the right conference. Consult with your mentors to identify which conferences will make the biggest impact for you. With limited time and money, you may only be able to attend a very few conferences during graduate school.
- Have the people skills. Networking effectively is an acquired skill. If you are not comfortable networking, you might consider attending a workshop on how to talk to others about your research and make connections. The UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development may be able to help.
- Consider giving a poster. If your research is at the point where you can do it, giving a poster is a great chance for you to meet others who are interested in your specific line of research. A poster can be an advertisement for you and for your work.
- Print some business cards. And remember to bring them with you. Enough said.
- Get organized. Make a schedule of talks you don't want to miss, posters you really want to see, and a strategic list of people you want to meet. Make appointments in advance with people you might want to cultivate a relationship with. For example, if you plan to do a postdoc, a conference may be the best place to meet potential mentors.
- Dress the part. Scientists on the whole tend to dress casually, but this may vary depending on where you go. Remember that you may be meeting your future boss there, so pick out clothes for your trip with that in mind.
- Know where you're going. There's a good chance you'll be paying for your own meals and ground transportation. So take a look online for public transportation options and inexpensive places to eat before you go. Especially if you are going to an international conference, learn a little about the culture you'll be visiting before you go.