Frequently Asked Questions

What is a fellowship?

A fellowship is a grant or stipend, often called a scholarship, given to support advanced study or research. The award is typically made on the basis of merit, though financial need may be a requirement as well.

What is the difference between the Fellowships Office and the Scholarships Center?

The Fellowships Office assists undergraduates, graduating seniors, and alumni who are interested in applying for nationally competitive scholarships. The Scholarship Center coordinates and administers local, national, and international private donor scholarships, as well as institutional and state scholarship programs for Western students.

Why should I apply for a fellowship?

In addition to the financial reward, which can be very generous, many fellowships provide unique opportunities for study and/or research. Certain fellowships include internships related to a student’s field of study; many offer the opportunity to build a professional network. A number of the most prestigious scholarships enable the recipient to study or conduct research in another country for an extended period of time.

What services does the Fellowships Office provide?

The Fellowships Office assists students in a number of ways. The most important services include:

  • Assistance in determining whether the student is a viable candidate.
  • Assistance in finding scholarships that match the candidate’s educational background and career goals.
  • Guidance in writing the required essays, including the personal statement and research proposal.
  • Assistance in preparing for interviews.

How do I apply?

All nationally competitive scholarship applications are now electronic. You should begin by registering online. Read the directions carefully. Give accurate, clear, and concise answers. Be completely honest. Do not exaggerate. Keep in mind that you may at some point have to answer questions about information you provide on the application.

If the application involves essays – personal statements, research proposals, etc. – you should work on your drafts off-line and upload them only when you are satisfied that they are your very best work. Most programs will accept documents prepared in Word. Check the instructions to make sure that you are using a program that is compatible.

If I decide to apply for a fellowship, do I have to meet with the Fellowships Advisor?

Most nationally competitive scholarships require students to register with a fellowships advisor and to work closely with this individual throughout the application process.

Applicants who are applying for scholarships that do not require them to work through the Fellowships Office are welcome to ask for assistance.

When should I start an application?

Because many of the fellowships for graduate study have deadlines in the early fall, juniors are strongly encouraged to begin work at the beginning of spring quarter. If you are going to be off campus during the summer and/or the fall, you need to get a good start on your application before leaving campus.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship that has a deadline in January, you should get started during fall quarter.

A strong application typically takes about 40 hours over a period of a couple of months to complete. In addition to writing two or three essays, you may need to spend time researching graduate programs, establishing institutional affiliations in another country, or developing research proposals. The more time you invest in the preliminary research, think about how the fellowship will enable you to achieve your goals, consider what you can contribute as a result of receiving a major fellowship, and present your ideas in clear, concise prose, the more likely you will be successful.

Why do some fellowships have two deadlines?

Fellowships that require either a campus evaluation or an institutional endorsement usually have a campus deadline about three weeks before the final deadline. This allows time for a campus interview, if required, and/or completion of the evaluation and/or the endorsement.

The campus deadline allows time to make sure that all the components of the application have been completed and are correct. It also makes it possible to submit the online application early enough to avoid last-minute technical glitches, especially when a system is overloaded with last minute submissions.

What is an institutional endorsement?

The most prestigious scholarships limit the number of candidates a university is allowed to submit. These scholarships also require a letter from a senior administrator – the president, provost, or dean – explaining why the university has selected a particular candidate. The letter is usually written by the fellowships advisor, even though it is signed by the senior administrator.

Can I apply for more than one fellowship?

Yes, if you meet the criteria for more than one.

Can I apply for a fellowship after I have graduated?

Yes. While some scholarships are limited to graduating seniors, several of the most prestigious fellowships are open for a few years beyond graduation. You need to check the individual fellowships for details.

Page Updated 02.24.2015