The Application Process

Applying for fellowships is rigorous and can appear overwhelming when considered alongside your other commitments. The process does require effort and time management, but follow the steps below, along with our general advice, and you will find the experience both manageable and rewarding.


1. Identify Fellowships to Pursue

One of the more difficult (and sometimes daunting) parts of the application process is choosing which fellowships to apply for. Begin your search by looking carefully for programs that sound interesting. Some fellowships focus on particular fields of study or professional paths; others target special populations such as ethnic or racial minorities, women, LGBQT students, or those with financial need. Yet others are open to anyone with vision and talent. Ask faculty mentors for suggestions. Identify fellowships that would support you in pursuit of your particular academic and professional goals.

If you don’t see a good fit in our database, be creative and use your resources to identify opportunities. Look at other listings, talk to faculty, look into honors societies, professional associations, and the like.


2. Do Your Research and Plan Ahead

Research the awards in greater depth on the program websites. Understand what the award offers you. Consider the sponsor of the award and any service obligation that might be required. Be sure you meet ALL eligibility requirements. Learn if University nomination or endorsement is required.

Then, dig a little deeper. If the website lists prior recipients of the award, study those recipients and see if you feel like you could be one of those people. What was their field of study? What experiences did they have coming into the fellowships? What are their professional goals?

Look for sections offering advice or tips to applicants. If the program publishes their selection criteria, note these carefully and consider whether you could put together a competitive application in light of these criteria.

Take note of the deadline and plan ahead; do you have at least a month or two to work on this?  Visit the Application Timetable to help you stay on track as you prepare your fellowship application.

Contact the Fellowships Office at to let us know that you are applying.


3. Prepare and Revise your Application

Look at the application itself, generally available on individual program websites. In some cases, you may have to register to see the application. Applications will of course all be a bit different from one another, but each component is a vital piece of that application and none should be taken for granted.  The usual elements are:

  • An online application
  • Essays

Usually a 1-2 page personal statement and additional proposal-specific essays or short answer questions.

The essays may seem daunting, but we have strategies for writing them successfully. In some cases, we can also provide samples of successful essays. The Writing Center can also help you with writing these essays.