History Graduate Award Opportunities

The Department of History at Western Michigan University has extra funding available on a limited or competitive basis each year. Many of these opportunities are made possible by generous donations.

Houdek/Haight History Fund to Support Returning Teachers

Dr. John Houdek taught in the history department for many years. When he retired he and his wife Carolyn, who was a teacher, wanted to support school teachers returning to Western to meet personal and professional development goals and gave money each year to help defray the cost of books, etc. Dr. Haight, retiring after 41 years in the department, many of them as a primary instructor of teacher preparation courses, asked that contributions to honor him be given for this same laudable purpose. To honor their dedication to teachers, in the making and those working in local schools, the department has established the Houdek/Haight Fund. The awards provide financial support to help defray the cost of textbooks for secondary education teachers who are enrolled in a graduate degree program in history at WMU. The amount of the scholarship is typically $100-300 per semester. The scholarship may be renewable based on the availability of funds and student progress.

To apply for this grant, submit a request of one to two pages in length stating your name, where and what you teach, name of your supervising professor, and other funding you are receiving (e.g. tuition reimbursement from your school, etc.) Your request must also include a brief discussion of your program of study, goals, and how your graduate work impacts on your teaching. Please indicate the semester during which you plan to use the award. Requests should be submitted to the director of graduate studies.

Dr. Nora Faires Travel and Research Award

Dr. Faires was an accomplished historian of migration studies, most recently Canadian migration. She also made a significant contribution to the graduate program, advising a number of M.A. and Ph.D. students. Knowing of her affinity for graduate work and the regard graduate students had for her—student’s raised money among themselves to create a small fund to award travel support in her name. Friends of Dr. Faires opened this endowment to honor that graduate student initiative and to support graduate student travel to conduct and present research.

Applications will be accepted from History Graduate Student Organization dues-paying members. Applications are first reviewed by the HGSO and recommendations made to the department's Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate College application form can be used and the deadline will be the same as the those listed in the Department of History Graduate Handbook. Up to $2000 per year is available for disbursement. The deadline for application is March 15.

The Judith F. Stone Award

The Judith F. Stone Award provides financial support in the amount of $1000 to help defray costs in conducting research for a doctoral dissertation. It was established by Diether H. Haenicke, President Emeritus and Interim President of Western Michigan University, in honor of Judith F. Stone, the Mary U. Meader Professor of Modern European History, on her retirement from the university in December 2006.  The award was made possible through the generosity of Beulah Kendall, who contributed funds to the WMU foundation to be used for student academic support initiatives.

The individual to receive the $1000 award shall be an outstanding doctoral candidate (i.e. ABD) who is developing a dissertation project or already has an approved dissertation prospectus, preferably in European or European-related history. To apply for this award, submit a request of approximately two pages in length, describing your research interests and plans, how the award will be used, other funding you are receiving, and a letter of support from the supervising professor. If you have an approved dissertation prospectus, it should be included. Requests should be submitted by March 22 to:

Director of Graduate Studies
Department of History
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5344

The recipient will be selected by the Graduate Studies Committee.

For further information, contact the director of graduate studies.

Peter J. Schmitt Endowment For Experiential Learning

Dr. Peter Schmitt taught for 43 years in the Department of History at WMU and he valued nontraditional learning experiences that explored the natural world, the built environment and human ingenuity. The friends and family of Dr. Schmitt created this endowment fund as a legacy to him. Grants up to $500 will support varied learning experiences that enhance awareness, understanding and knowledge of the interconnectedness of history with the arts and the natural world. It would include but not be limited to participating in short courses in art or architectural history, in field biology learning experiences, in workshops in historic preservation or traditional crafts, in retreat experiences that emphasize an understanding of the natural world, or in other activities that promote personal insight into the interrelationships between people and their environments, especially in historical contexts.

Peter J. Schmitt Endowment Application Process


All members of the WMU community (undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, emeriti, alumni, and staff) are eligible to apply to the Peter J. Schmitt Endowment for Experiential Learning. To be eligible for this grant, undergraduate students must have completed at least 30 hours of course work at WMU, and have maintained a GPA of 2.50 or higher. Applications from undergraduate and graduate students will be given preference in two out of a three year grant cycle, but if no suitable student applications are received, funding may go to faculty and staff.

Application process

Applicants must submit an application, a resume or CV, a proposed budget, and a short essay (two to three pages) that describes the experiential learning activity they wish to attend and explains how that activity might broaden or deepen their current understanding of the interconnectedness of people and their environments in historical contexts. Published information about the experiential learning program should be included in the application packet. Undergraduate and graduate student applicants should also submit a current transcript. Completed applications must be submitted to the history department chair by April 1.

Dr. Joseph L. Peyser Endowment for the Study of New France

The endowment was created by J. Randall Peyser to honor the memory of his father Dr. Joseph L. Peyser, an eminent scholar of New France and who wrote widely on the history and culture of the French in North America and, in particular, in the Great Lakes region. The Joseph L. Peyser Endowment provides financial assistance in support of research on the history and culture of the French in North America including: the history of the French presence in North America and in the Great Lakes region; the culture (language, arts, material culture, built environment) of the French in North America and in the Great Lakes region; the history and culture of Native peoples with whom the French interacted in North America and the Great Lakes region; the history of Native-French interactions in North America and the Great Lakes region. The endowment supports student research, faculty research, and organizations and programs promoting the study of New France. More information.

Ernst Breisach Award for European History

The Ernst Breisach Quasi-Endowment fund was established by former university President Diether Haenicke in honor of Professor Ernst Breisach upon the occasion of his retirement. This award may be granted to a second year (or beyond) graduate student who has completed at least four non-individualized graduate level courses at WMU with a GPA of 3.75 or higher. The focus of study must be some phase of European history (ancient through modern). The award is $2,000.

To apply for this award, please send an unofficial copy of your WMU graduate transcript; a letter of support from your supervising professor; and a letter explaining the aspect of European history you are studying, what funding you already have received from the history department, and how you intend to use the funds. Send to director of graduate studies no later than March 22.

Robert Russel Writing Award

Awarded for outstanding written work by a graduate student nominated by history faculty. Both M.A. and Ph.D. students are eligible. Typically the award pertains to a completed thesis or dissertation, but there is precedent for a student receiving the award for an exceptional seminar paper or published article. If you feel your work merits consideration, discuss your possible nomination with the appropriate faculty member. Contact the director of graduate studies for more information. Nominations are due in January.

Department Support for Research and Travel

The Department of History provides support for graduate research and travel. The department has limited funding to support students’ travel for thesis or dissertation research and professional development. The latter is limited to travel to professional conferences to present original research. Students requesting such support must apply simultaneously to the Graduate College and the history graduate scholarship committee, using the forms provided, and meeting the requirements stipulated, by the Graduate College. A copy of the Graduate College application will serve as the request to the department’s committee. Funds permitting, the committee will match the Graduate College’s allocation up to the total amount of the request or to a maximum of U.S. $600 for domestic travel and U.S. $1,100 for international travel. If the student has already used up the allocation of support from the Graduate College, no application to the Graduate College will be required, but the student should still use the Graduate College form to submit the request to the department’s committee.


Submit your application of support by: September 15; November 1; March 15.


Funding requests not adhering to these procedures will be considered only in exceptional cases. Requests will be considered based upon availability of funds, appropriateness of the request relative to your place in your program of study, and evidence of satisfactory progress towards completion of your degree. You may apply for support more than once per year, and throughout your term of stay in the program but, in any given application period, priority will be given to students who have not previously been awarded support from the Research and Professional Development Travel fund.


Other funding opportunities

  • Western Michigan University offers other funding opportunities, known collectively as graduate appointments.
  • The Office of Financial Aid is another resource students are encouraged to use in their search for funding options