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Student Research Support:
SDOH in DE: Students

Social Determinants of Health in Distance Education Research Grant

Walden University recognizes that education contributes to healthy individuals, communities, and society, and, as a leader in the field of distance education aims to produce scholar practitioners who further contribute to healthy individuals, communities, and society through positive social change. The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) model, premised upon the idea that socially imposed forces are causative factors that influence life and learning (Sanderson et al., 2021), is a central tenet that informs Walden’s mission of education for good. As such, the university values research that investigates issues of educational justice and equity across the educational life span (Beyond the Social Determinants of Learning, 2021) that add to, or even challenge, the current understanding and practice of the SDOH in the context of distance education. 

Program Goals

The Social Determinants of Health in Distance Education Research Grant (SDOH in DE Research Grant) program invites proposals that address a topic relevant to the intersection of the SDOH, educational justice and equity, and distance education. Proposals for studies conducted by student investigators in all academic fields are encouraged to apply.

The purpose of this grant opportunity, funded by the Walden Associate President Research Grant program, is to encourage research in the name of the university that contributes scholarship on distance education and its relationships to, and impacts on, educational justice and equity, and the Social Determinants of Health more broadly. Grant funds are to be used to support the direct cost of conducting research.


Lindell, A., Morgan, A., Sugarman, B., Tervala, D., Westermann, J., et al. (2021). Beyond the Social Determinants of Learning: A Walden University Position Paper. 

Sanderson, C. D., Hollinger-Smith, L. M., & Cox, K. (2021). Developing a Social Determinants of Learning™ Framework: A case study. Nursing Education Perspectives (Wolters Kluwer Health), 42(4), 205–211. 


Past recipients (prior to 2020 this funding opportunity was considered a fellowship, not a research grant)

Program Timeline

Final date for first-time requests for feedback on grant proposals: June 26, 2023

Application Deadline: June 30, 2023

Grant Recipients Announced: August 16, 2023

Research must be completed: December 31, 2024


The SDOH in DE Research Grant is open to Walden University doctoral students in all academic fields of study. Grant funds cannot be used for tuition at Walden, or another institution, and can only be used to support those activities included in the grant proposal. Additionally, student applicants must: 

  • Propose grant activities based upon their doctoral student capstone (a dissertation or doctoral study) that has been approved by their committee.
  • Be currently enrolled in a Walden Ph.D. or professional doctorate program.
  • Be a Walden student in good academic standing.
  • Have obtained research ethics (IRB) approval for their doctoral capstone, which is the basis of the grant activities.
  • Cannot have previously been a recipient of this grant program or the Research Grant in Distance Education (sponsored by Walden University).

Grant Amount and Duration

For any grant funds to be disbursed to the recipient, proof of compliance with Walden University regulations regarding the protection of human subjects in research and Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is required.

Although a funding ceiling is provided below, applicants are encouraged to request only the amount of funds needed to conduct their proposed grant activities, rather than the maximum amount available. 

$1,000 funding ceiling for a study conducted by a single student.

The grant will cover: 

  • Doctoral capstone studies on distance education and its relationships to, and impacts on, educational justice and equity, and the Social Determinants of Health more broadly.
  • Costs associated with primary data collection (qualitative or quantitative). 

The grant will not cover:

  • The grant funds cannot be used for tuition at Walden, or another institution.

This request for proposals (RFP) is for one-time, short-term studies.  If awarded, the project must be completed within the grant period of performance, which ends December 31, 2024.

While only grant proposals that are determined to be of exceptional scholarly merit will be funded,  to recognize newly emerging scholars, proposals submitted by students will be considered for funding from a pool separate from faculty and staff applicants.  

The number of grants awarded in each program cycle will be determined by the quality and size of the applicant pool as well as the availability of program funds. Grant funds are to be used to support the direct cost of the study.


Criteria for Selection

The overall merit of the proposed study will be considered and evaluated by Dean of Research, working with a review committee chaired by the Associate Dean, Research & Sponsored Programs. 

The final selection will be made based upon the following general criteria: 

  • Reflects theoretically sound and evidence-based research or practice.
  • Indicates that the study will contribute to distance education pedagogy.
  • Feasibility that the proposed work would be completed during the award period.  

Feedback on Grant Proposals

Applicants are welcome to submit a draft of their entire grant proposal, or sections of the proposal, to the RSP for review and feedback. While staff in the RSP may not be content experts in your field, we can offer feedback about the design, methodology, budget, and budget justification for your proposed grant. Our office is available to meet with applicants via Teams and provide written comments on proposal drafts.

Contact [email protected] to set up a meeting and/or submit a draft of your grant proposal for review. We are happy to provide review and feedback more than once; however, first time requests must be made by June 26, 2023.

Grant Application Process

Since this grant opportunity is intended to support capstone activities, students must have a dissertation or doctoral study proposal that has been approved by their committee as well as Walden's IRB. In light of this, the content of the grant application draws heavily from the approved capstone proposal rather than requiring the applicant to write a new grant proposal.  

This grant opportunity uses an online submission process, which involves a two-step process.  


Step One: Grant Application 

While instructions about how to complete the online grant application are provided in the form itself, following is an overview of the information you will need to provide: 

  • Student ID# 

  • Copy of your approved dissertation/doctoral study from which you will be able to cut and paste relevant information (such as the abstract, problem statement, research question, etc.).  

  • Anticipated date of graduation. 

  • Dollar amount you plan to request (maximum is $1,000 but you are not required to request the full amount).  

  • A PDF budget and timeline template is provided in the grant application. The fillable form will guide you through the required content for your budget and timeline.  

  • You will need to download the PDF template, fill it out, and then upload the completed PDF as part of your grant application. 

  • A copy of the Walden IRB approval letter for your dissertation/doctoral study (to be uploaded as an attachment to the online application form).  

  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae (to be uploaded as an attachment to the online application).  

The link provided below will take you to the online grant application, which will allow you to select relevant fields from drop-down menus, enter individualized text responses, and upload supporting documentation.  


Apply for the Social Determinants of Health in Distance Education Research Grant



Step Two: Grant Proposal 

Upon submission of the grant application (step one described above) the applicant will receive an email from [email protected] with a link to the grant proposal template.  

The fillable template will guide you through the required content for your grant proposal. Follow the instructions provided at the end of the template to submit your completed grant proposal. Unlike the budget template, the grant proposal template is submitted online (it is NOT downloaded and then attached to the grant application).   

The grant proposal is comprised of the following sections: 

  1. Proposal Abstract 

  1. Proposal Description 

  • Design 

  • Methodology 

  • Participants 

  • Data Analysis 

  • References Cited 

Please Note: You will need your Grant Tracking Number [SDOHDE-2023-S-X], which is included in the email providing the Grant Proposal Template. 

Once the grant proposal template has been submitted you will receive an automatic reply confirming receipt of your grant proposal.


Confirmation of Complete Grant Application 

You will receive a separate email from our office confirming that your SDOH in DE Research Grant application is complete when steps one and two outlined above have been successfully submitted and received by our office. The tracking number assigned to your grant application will be shared with you in the confirmation email. 

More Information

Although applications for the SDOH in DE Research Grant are NOT accepted by email you are welcome to contact [email protected] with questions about your grant application, and the program in general. If inquiring about a specific grant application that has already been submitted online, please reference your grant application tracking number in your email.  



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