Impact Awards

The Impact Award recognizes graduate students and recent graduate alumni whose research contributes to the educational, economic, physical, social or cultural well-being of North Carolina communities and citizens.

The Graduate School publicly recognizes Impact awardees at the Annual Graduate Student Recognition Celebration.

Application Information

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You are eligible if:

We encourage students in all academic areas to apply; a diversity of research is imperative in demonstrating the importance of Carolina graduate student research to North Carolina.

If you are a previous Impact Award winner, you are not eligible to apply again with the same project.

Selection Criteria

Impact Awards recognize graduate student research that is of high quality with significant and direct impact on specific North Carolina citizens, communities, problems and issues. You must be able to specifically describe the significance of your research to the state of North Carolina, especially if your research project has a broad reach. It must contribute new knowledge or insights with a direct impact on the citizens of North Carolina. We are looking for important or innovative research ideas.

Your application will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

View an in-depth description of the review and selection process.

Award Amount

The Impact Award is a one-time $500 cash award.


Each department may nominate two students per year.


Deadlines are posted on the funding deadlines calendar.

How to Apply

Submit Application »

  1. Please check with your department for their internal deadline. You must complete your application early enough for your department to nominate you to The Graduate School by the deadline.
  2. Prepare a research description, impact statement, and Curriculum Vitae. Arrange for one recommendation letter from the faculty advisor for this project or other appropriate contact. Be sure to follow the application guidelines.
    View Frequently Asked Questions about the online award application.
  3. Before submitting your application, we suggest you get feedback on your research description from a person outside of your field to help ensure it is widely understandable to a lay audience. An important component of this honor is the ability for recipients to describe their research in jargon-free language to a variety of audiences, and the application review committee takes this into strong consideration.
  4. Submit your materials to the Graduate School Award Online Application.
  5. Once you submit your application, your recommender will receive an email asking them to submit a letter via the online system.
  6. At the same time, the fellowship and award approvers for your department will receive an email notifying them that you submitted your application.
  7. Once your letter of recommendation has been submitted, your department may nominate you for the award. If your department selects your application, they must nominate it to The Graduate School by the deadline.
  8. We will notify awardees in early November.

Application Guidelines

We will not consider your application if you exceed any of the specified page limits and/or you do not follow the proper format.

A complete application includes:

Research Description

Address your research description to an audience of reviewers who may not be familiar with your field. Clearly explain the importance of your research to a lay audience. Do not use jargon or technical, field-specific terminology.

Format: No more than 2 pages. Double spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins, numbered pages, and your name on each page.


Impact Statement

Format: No more than 1 page. Double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins, numbered pages, and your name on each page


Curriculum Vitae

Format: No more than 2 pages. 12-point font, 1-inch margins, numbered pages, and your name on each page.

Letter of Recommendation

Indicate the email address of your recommender in your application.

Once you submit your application, your recommender will receive an email asking them to submit a recommendation letter for you.

Instructions for recommenders:
Address letters of recommendation “To the Impact Award Committee.”
Include an assessment of:

Each recommendation letter should be no more than 4,000 characters (spaces included), which is approximately 600 words or one single-spaced page.

We can only accept letters of recommendation through the online system. Recommenders cannot submit letters directly to The Graduate School or to the student’s department.

Contact Us

Graduate School Fellowships Office