TOEFL® Young Students Research Program: Graduate Student Research Grants — 2015 Call for Proposals


The Graduate Student Research Grants under the TOEFL® Young Students Series are designed to support foundational research that promotes high-quality language assessment related to young English learners between the ages of 8 and 15. The grants are offered to students enrolled in masters and doctoral programs in language testing, language education, applied linguistics or related fields. Priority for the Graduate Student Research Grants will be given to foundational research related to young students of English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

Students enrolled in graduate (masters and doctoral) programs in institutions around the world in language testing, language education, applied linguistics, or related fields
Amount of grant:

Research Topics

Potential research topics include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Theory of language development of young EFL learners
  2. Domain analysis of communication skills of young EFL learners
  3. English education and assessment policy for young EFL learners
  4. Language development patterns of young EFL learners (including meta-analyses and studies that analyze longitudinal data)
  5. Innovations in learning or assessment of young EFL learners
  6. Types of assessment or other evidence teachers use to inform the teaching and learning of young EFL learners
  7. Impact of large-scale standardized language assessments on young EFL learners, teachers, parents and society
  8. Cognitive and affective factors that influence language development in young EFL learners

Important Dates

March 13, 2015 Proposals due
May 15, 2015 Notifications sent to grant winners
July 1, 2015 Work starts (See Frequently Asked Questions below)

Application and Proposal Process

Proposal materials must be submitted electronically via email to by 11:59 p.m. U.S. ET on March 13, 2015.

Submissions must include the following documents:

Proposal Content Requirements

The proposal must include the following key components:

  • Cover page (name and affiliation of the principal investigator and any co-investigators, the email address and phone number of the principal investigator, the title of the project, identification of research topic(s) addressed by the proposal, and the date of submission).
  • Abstract page including (1) the title of the project, (2) a statement of the problem including a brief description of the project proposed and a brief discussion of the implications or utility of the anticipated outcomes (250 words maximum), and (3) identification of the research topic(s) addressed by the proposal. Please do not include any of the authors' personally identifying information (i.e., names and affiliations) on the abstract page or in the body of the proposal.
  • Body of the proposal (approximately between 1200–1500 words), which must include the following sections:
    • Rationale (statement of the problem or the issue and relevance to one or more of the research topics above)
    • Literature review (focused summary of related research)
    • Research questions (specific question(s) or research objectives to be addressed by the project)
    • Methodology (explanation of the proposed research methodology, including a description of the study context and participants; instruments to be used; data collection procedures; identification and coding of variables; and analyses)
    • Implications (a brief discussion of the implications or utility of anticipated or possible outcomes and relevance to practice or theory)
  • References pertaining to applicants.
  • Budget (see sample budget).
  • Schedule (list of the major activities of the project and the period in which each will be conducted; please assume July 1, 2015, as the start date for the project).

Proposal Format Requirements

Please follow the following format:

  • Word 2003 or later version
  • Arial or Times New Roman font size 12
  • 8.5" x 11" (U.S. "Letter") page size
  • One-inch margins on all sides
  • Double spaced
  • Page numbering and paragraph indentation following APA style (American Psychological Association, sixth edition)
  • For references, graphs, and tables, please use APA style
  • No personally identifying information (i.e., no author names and affiliations) on the abstract page or in the body of the proposal

Proposal Evaluation Process

Each proposal will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the research topics identified above
  • Significance and innovativeness of the study
  • Feasibility and quality of the proposed research
  • Potential contribution to theory, research or practice
  • Qualifications of the Principal Investigator

Reporting Requirements and Payment Schedule

Grant funds are disbursed in two payments. The first payment is disbursed upon your signing of the grant contract. The second payment is disbursed after the review of your final research report. You may adjust the amounts of these payments in accordance with the needs of your project. To do this, please note the specific amounts you will need, for specific purposes at specific dates, in your budget and project schedule. For a sample project budget, see here.

Dissemination Plan

Authors are expected to submit a publishable draft as the final deliverable of the grant. Typically, the research can be published either as an ETS research report or as an article in a professional journal. Please specify which publication venue you plan to pursue, and be aware that manuscripts that will be submitted for publication as ETS research reports will have to pass ETS technical review. Grantees who plan to pursue other avenues of publication are still required to submit a final research report to ETS as proof of completion of the grant activities, and as a prerequisite to disbursement of the final grant payment. All grant recipients are required to appropriately acknowledge the support of the TOEFL program when disseminating the results of funded work.


If you have additional questions about the application process or the grant in general, please contact us at

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why am I required to submit a support letter from a faculty member?

To ensure that the research funded through these grants is of high quality, the Young Students Research Subcommittee is asking for a written statement of support from a faculty member who can comment on the applicant's research skills, and who is familiar with the plan, scope and schedule of the proposed study.

2. Why am I required to provide a signed document on behalf of my university?

Obtaining the written support of your university for conducting the study is important because we need to ensure that your university agrees to work with ETS to process the payment of the grant.

3. I am an international student studying in the United States. Can I apply for the grant?

Yes, but to make sure you will be able to perform the work associated with the project, you must first discuss potential involvement with your department and university (please see Question 2 above).

4. I am studying in an institution outside of the United States. Can I apply for the grant?

Yes, but to make sure you will be able to perform the work associated with the project, you must first discuss potential involvement with your department and university (please see Question 2 above).

5. When can the work on the project begin?

Please consider July 1, 2015, as the tentative start date of the project. The actual start date will vary depending on the duration of the contract process involving your university and ETS.

6. How long can projects funded through the Graduate Research grants last?

The expected duration for each project is 12 months. However, individual projects may continue beyond the first 12 months. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, with the caveat that project duration cannot exceed 24 months.

7. If the project continues beyond the initially agreed-upon end date, will additional funding be available to researchers?

No additional funding will be made available for projects that have been supported through this grant.

8. My project involves payments to participants. Should I include these in my budget?

Yes. The minimum amount of the award is US$3,000. However, if your study involves payments to participants, additional funding up to US$2,000 may be provided under the grant. Please include information about the payments to participants in your budget details. If your payments and other project expenses exceed the maximum award amount (US$5,000), please consider alternative funding resources to cover the difference.

9. I am interested in using the TOEFL Junior® or TOEFL® Primary™ tests for my research. Are there TOEFL Junior or TOEFL Primary research forms available to applicants?

The purpose of the Graduate Research grants is to promote foundational research. No research forms or public use data are available for these grants.

10. Can I use this research grant to support my dissertation research?

Yes, the study funded through the grant can be used to build your dissertation project.

11. Who will own the data and draft manuscript resulting from the project?

The grantees will own both the data and the manuscript.

12. How about the dissemination of the research? Will I be allowed to present or publish it?

You will be able to present the research at professional conferences and/or publish the research report. Please inform us of your intended publication venue at the time of proposal submission.

13. How should I itemize the expenses that are listed in my budget?

For guidance on budgeting, please see the Sample Budget.