Simons Award for Graduate Students in Theoretical Computer Science

The Simons Foundation Division for Mathematics and Physical Sciences invites applications for the Simons Award for Graduate Students in Theoretical Computer Science program. These awards will be made to graduate students with an outstanding track record of research accomplishments.


Theoretical computer science is unique in that graduate students working independently produce some of the best results in the field. With the Simons Award for Graduate Students in Theoretical Computer Science, the foundation seeks to identify and support these emerging stars by providing additional support to enable them to freely pursue their research interests. The award is not intended to replace the regular academic-year support of these outstanding students.

Basis for Awards:

The intent of the program is to support graduate students who have already produced outstanding results. A selection committee of distinguished scientists will consider the applications. Awards will be based on the quality of the applicant’s research contributions, as outlined in the student’s list of publications and research statement, and on the strength of the letters of support (see ‘Application Requirements’ below).

Level and Duration of Funding:

A Simons Award for Graduate Students is awarded for a period of two years for up to $24,000 per year. The award will commence June 1, 2015, and end May 31, 2017. An awardee must be a graduate student for the duration of the award.

Allowable Expenses:

Each award will provide support for the following:

  • Student Discretionary Funds: Up to $8,500 per year for the awardee to use at his/her discretion toward equipment, travel, books, personal computer, and other supplies, and may not be used for salary and/or stipend support. Funds expended for travel should be used for purposes that further the awardee’s research and professional development, such as attendance at domestic and international conferences in the student’s area of research, as well as short term or extended visits to other institutions to pursue research. These funds should not be used for the travel of others, whether collaborators or visitors. Travel expenditures should follow the institution’s travel policies.
  • Summer Support: Up to $9,000 per year for up to three months of summer salary support for the awardee. These funds can be used in conjunction with other support but may not be used toward tuition and/or fringe benefits.
  • Department Funds: $2,500 per year to the awardee’s department to enhance the research atmosphere of the department. These funds should be expended at the discretion of the awardee’s advisor. Allowable expenses in this category include support for departmental colloquia and seminars, as well as refreshments and other research related amenities. Support for student orientations, prospective student visits and other departmental activities are allowed. Funds may also be used to subsidize meals between faculty, students and visitors. In addition, these funds may be used to help pay for furniture and research infrastructure such as copiers, computer servers and computer support.
  • Overhead: $4,000 per year to the institution for administrative expenses.

Unspent Funds:

With the exception of the funds outlined in the ‘Summer Support’ section above, any funds not spent in year one of the award may be spent in year two without prior approval, but unspent funds at the end of the award must be returned to the foundation, unless express permission is obtained for a specified future use.


Brief activity reports are required annually from the awardee and should be signed by the awardee’s advisor. These reports should summarize research results achieved, talks given and papers published. In addition, annual financial reports are required from the institution, signed by the designated financial officer. Both reports are due 60 days following the end of each award year.


To be eligible, the applicant must be a graduate student who has completed two, three or four years at a U.S. or Canadian institution of higher education at the time of the award start date. A track record of outstanding results in theoretical computer science is the key criterion. There are no citizenship requirements.

Grants are awarded to the student’s home institution. There is a limit of two applications per university. Please coordinate with the relevant university officials. For-profit organizations may not apply.

Number of Awards:

Up to 10 awards will be made annually.

How to Apply:

Applicants must apply through proposalCENTRAL ( beginning October 1, 2014. The deadline to apply is February 12, 2015, at midnight EST.

Please coordinate submission of the proposal with the appropriate officials in accordance with institution/university policies. Please see the Application Instructions for further information.

Application Requirements:

  1. A research statement (two-page limit) summarizing the applicant’s research contributions, research plans for the immediate future and career goals. References do not need to be included within the page limit but should not exceed an additional page.
  2. A curriculum vitae (two-page limit) that includes institution, advisor and a list of publications.
  3. Letters of support (two-page limit) signed by the letter writer, explaining the scientific accomplishments of the applicant and the applicant’s potential in the field of theoretical computer science:
    1. A letter of support from the department chair.
    2. A letter of support from the applicant’s advisor. This letter must be submitted by the advisor confidentially and directly via proposalCENTRAL. Please see the Application Instructions for more information.
    3. A letter from a reference outside the applicant’s institution. This letter must be submitted by the reference confidentially and directly via proposalCENTRAL. Please see the Application Instructions for more information.
  4. Budget requested per year and corresponding budget justification.

Funding decisions will be announced by April 1, 2015, and funding will begin on June 1, 2015.

Important Dates:

Application Available Application Deadline Notification Award Start Date
October 1, 2014 February 12, 2015 April 1, 2015 June 1, 2015

Contact Information:

mps(replace this with the @ sign)

Elizabeth Roy
Program Manager
Mathematics and the Physical Sciences
eroy(replace this with the @ sign)

Further Information: