What are National Fellowships and Scholarships? Simply put, they are merit-based, highly competitive, opportunities funded by governments, individual philanthropists, and private organizations. They mainly fund travel, graduate study, or independent research abroad. Some, however, fund graduate study in the U.S.; one supports a research job at a major think tank; and another rewards candidates for excellent work in the STEM fields. Each funding body has a mission. Some aim to solve social problems, others to enhance mutual understanding between countries, and a few, to advance knowledge in particular fields. By awarding fellowships, these foundations seek to create a cohort of outstanding individuals who will fulfill their mission. From their perspective, the fellowship is not so much a gift as it is an investment.
Foundations typically seek candidates with very high academic achievement (A- or higher), and notable extra-curricular involvement and accomplishment (service and leadership). Some value originality, teaching experience, or a robust record of community engagement, and will consider candidates with a slightly lower than A- grade average, if they have these qualifications. Almost all foundations offering these awards require that candidates apply through an internal (campus) endorsement process before they can submit an application to the national funding body. This internal process is managed by the Office of Fellowships.
Pursuing fellowships, and the experiences they support, can be a rewarding next step in your education, training, and personal development. Yes, keep your eye on the prize, but put your heart into the process. It is true that winning a prestigious fellowship will open many doors and provide you an incomparable experience, but it doesn't guarantee lifelong success or happiness. Not winning, of course, can be greatly disappointing. Hundreds apply each year and do not win, yet most go on to accomplish their goals. Focus on the process and the reflection it entails, and you will "win" whether your application ends in the preliminary stage or goes the distance. The knowledge that you gain from the process of applying -- about yourself, your goals, and your motivation -- will be invaluable.
To learn more
- Fellowships at a Glance - award descriptions and eligibility requirements
- Find the fellowship that interests you in the left menu and click to find Overview & Application pages on it with detailed information
- Application Advice - an overview of the application and endorsement process; tips on preparing a strong application; sample application essays by recipients and finalists
- Application Timelines - a chart showing internal and foundation deadlines
Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall, 413-542-2536, email@example.com