Fellowship: Who Can Get It and How

Are you confused about what fellowship means? And the difference between scholarships and fellowship is not entirely clear to you? In this article, we will try to explain every detail of this academic term.

What a Fellowship Is for

Fellowships are funds provided by organizations, and that is why they are often confused with scholarships. However, scholarships cover a student’s tuition, while fellowships can be received for different purposes. And there are two primary reasons for offering a fellowship:

  1. For academic research experience. These fellowships are provided to graduates and postgraduates who want to continue their academic careers.
  1. For internship purposes. While some programs require specific working skills, others don’t ask for any experience. However, a high GPA is an obligatory parameter to qualify for a fellowship.

Financial and Other Incentives 

The financial reimbursement of a fellowship ranges from $5,000 to $50,000 a year. Though most fellowship programs cover living allowance, this amount is significantly lower than an entry-level employee’s salary. Nonetheless, some fellowships even offer assistance in returning student loans and health insurance. 

Benefits of Fellowships

  1. Financial and non-monetary bonuses. The most popular form of fellowships is a certain amount of money. Yet, fellowships sometimes cover travel costs, healthcare coverage, free accommodation, and even partial or complete student loan release. 
  1. Growing your professional network. Participating in conferences, communicating with senior colleagues, or learning from other professionals in relevant spheres help you grow your connections. And knowing many people can be beneficial when you look for a job or some professional assistance. 
  1. Achieve outstanding results in your area of competence. This often is the organization’s primary goal that offers fellowships, and yours too, isn’t it? Thorough research and intensive practice can result in developing new technologies.  

Finding a Fellowship

If you think that finding a fellowship program that can fit you is nearly impossible, you need to change your mind and try. Sure, the best option will not be on the first Google page, but it’s worth trying. Search engines apart, what are other effective ways to find fellowship opportunities in your area of interest? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Your professors. They have decades of experience and probably know hundreds of academics and researchers who are providing fellowships. A couple of messages or phone calls can result in a perfect opportunity for you. Moreover, you can easily ask your professor for a recommendation letter if that plan works.
  • College advisors. You will not be the first graduate looking for the academic support who these professionals see. And your college advisors have already taken dozens of students through various scholarships, grants, and internships. So, don’t lose this chance.
  • Financial aid office or department chair. Since not every fellowship opportunity is advertised, these departments can show you the right direction. Whether it will be a regular meeting concerning fellowships or a direct visit to the office of an institution offering fellowships –– every option may work.
  • Job listings. If you are more experience-oriented, try job boards –– input fellowship and internship as search criteria. Sometimes these two words are interchanged by recruiters or human resource managers.
  • People who already joined fellowship programs. It’s always best to know the procedures and requirements of those who already walked this path. If you or your friends know someone with a fellowship, don’t hesitate to ask this person about the details that can help you. Or, try to find the contacts of former and current fellows –– they will be happy to talk to you.

Application Requirements

Though most fellowships are offered for graduates and postgraduates, you will find more and more programs eligible for undergraduates. Though the application procedures and required documents vary from one organization to another, almost every fellowship will need your:

– resume

– personal essay

– academic records (transcripts)

– project proposals

– letters of recommendation.

You will probably have to pass an interview –– they can be held individually or in a group. Some fellowships will invite you to a series of interviews since the competition is pretty intense. Make sure you fit all the eligibility criteria: citizenship (US citizen or permanent resident), age, area and year of study, GPA, etc. Even if you study abroad, you can still qualify for a fellowship program, but the application procedure should be started well in advance. 

Applicants who are more qualified and can clearly state their academic plans and intents are more convincing. But one needs to carefully read the stipulations to make sure he qualifies for them and meets the deadline since collecting all the documents can take up to two months. 

Two or More Fellowships 

The competition among fellowship applicants is severe, so it’s a good idea to apply for as many award-offering programs as possible. Maybe you will discover that some programs offer nearly the same benefits, but that’s even more motivating to try yourself out. Unless the university or institution clearly states that it will consider the entire financial assistance, you can get all the fellowships you can manage. 

Regardless of the total number of applications you send, the probability of winning will not decrease. However, you need to “personalize” your essay to every case and institution. Another critical point is to always edit your writing (preferably several times) before sending it. 

To Sum It Up

Fellowship is an effective way to plunge into your academic research without worrying about your basic needs like housing and feeding. Obtaining a fellowship is always challenging, but even if you do not win the grant immediately, all the time and efforts you invest in preparing your fellowship application will benefit other aspects of your academic career and soft skills. 

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