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Office of the Vice President for Research



These frequently asked questions are updated regularly to include questions raised at SPARC workshop sessions, helping to make this list as comprehensive as possible. Please Contact Julie Morris if you have a question not listed below.


SPARC key dates and eligibility

What degree programs are eligible?
• PhD-degree seeking students in their second year (or later) are eligible to apply. First year PhD students are not eligible to apply for the SPARC Graduate Research Grant.  
• MD-PhD students are eligible to apply for SPARC during the first year (or later) of the PhD phase of the program (if following a plan of 2 years of MD program, 3 years of PhD program, and then 2 years of MD to complete the program). 
• Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Arts (MA) in Public History students are eligible and may apply in their first year (or later) of graduate study. Please note these are the only masters-seeking degrees that are eligible for SPARC.
Please note: MD, PharmD, and other non-PhD seeking doctoral students are not eligible to apply for SPARC grants.

When is the start date for SPARC Graduate Research Grant funds to be available?
SPARC Fellowship funds become available to recipients on May 1 each year.

What is the SPARC project work period?
SPARC recipients must conduct their work during a 15-month period: May 1 of the year awarded through July 31 of the following year.

I attended a SPARC Application Workshop last year. Do I have to attend another one this year?
No, but you are responsible for adhering to this year's guidelines AND must complete a new applicant information and video confirmation form. This form is required for every submission.

I completed a master's degree at USC or significant graduate coursework, and I am now pursuing a Ph.D. in the same field. Can I apply for SPARC in the first year of my Ph.D. program instead of waiting for my second year?
These situations may be considered on a case-by-case basis, please contact the SPARC program manager directly.


SPARC Faculty Advisors

Can my SPARC faculty advisor (and PI in USCeRA) be a USC faculty member who is not my primary Advisor?
The faculty advisor on the SPARC proposal generally should be the student applicant's primary advisor for their dissertation or thesis. Under special or extenuating circumstances, a student can have a USC faculty member other than their primary advisor as the SPARC faculty advisor (and PI in USCeRA). Please see the SPARC guidelines for additional information and process required.


SPARC and collaboration

Can two students write a joint proposal for SPARC?
No, joint proposals are not allowed.

Since we cannot write a joint proposal, can two students write individual proposals and request that the funding of one be contingent upon the other also being funded?


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