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    What Is a Fellowship and How Can One Help Me?

    By Sawyer Hiton

    Sawyer Hiton is a former scholarship and financial aid writer with Scholarships360. Previously, Sawyer worked with the nonprofit College Possible, supporting high school juniors in beginning their college plans and applications. Sawyer graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Philosophy.

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    and Cait Williams

    Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: May 2nd, 2024
    What Is a Fellowship and How Can One Help Me?

    Graduate school can be expensive. There are many ways to help pay for it, from scholarships to work-study. Fellowships are another avenue that can provide extra money for your grad school experience, while also enriching your academics.

    What is a fellowship?

    A fellowship is a form of money given to a student for their academic or pre professional pursuits. It is essentially a merit-based scholarship for advanced study of a subject. Fellowships are often sponsored by specific organizations in order to expand leadership and knowledge in their field. They are great opportunities for scholars to expand their own career prospects.

    Related: Everything you need to know about graduate assistantships

    Who qualifies for fellowships?

    The word “fellowship” is more commonly used for opportunities for those who have already completed their college degree and are pursuing further academics. This could be graduate students in the midst of their program or people who have completed their graduate degree and are continuing on to more advanced academic work. 

    It is uncommon that undergraduates pursue fellowships, though some undergraduate fellowships do exist. Most undergraduate fellowships come in the form of school-specific research opportunities, like these opportunities on Stanford’s website

    What types of fellowships are there?

    Although ultimately there are about as many types of fellowships as there are academic pathways, we can break fellowships down into three major categories.

    Graduate fellowships

    Fellowships for graduate students typically help pay for the cost of graduate school. They may also include money for cost-of-living expenses, and for professional development opportunities.

    Related: Grad school financial aid options

    Medical fellowships

    Medical fellowships are for physicians who have already completed their med school and residencies. They help new doctors gain experience in a more specialized field of medicine. For instance, a neurologist could pursue a fellowship in brain injury medicine if they wished to work with patients who have TBIs. A medical fellowship isn’t necessary for those who wish to become doctors but it can help new doctors gain extra information and experience.

    For med students: Top medical school scholarships

    Postdoctoral fellowships

    These fellowships are for those who have achieved their doctoral degrees but still wish to dive deeper into their academic specialty. They can be especially useful for scholars who weren’t able to pursue a certain course of study while achieving their degree. The fellowship can pay for both additional coursework or personal research projects, and sometimes both. Many postdoc fellowships require recipients to teach.

    How can fellowships help me?

    Fellowships are beneficial for a number of reasons. Below we’ve listed a few that widely apply to most fellowships. There may be other things as well that are specific to the fellowships you are applying to.

    • Can offer great financial benefits
    • Can greatly increase the return-on-investment for graduate school
    • Make a great addition to resumes 
    • Help you grow your passion for the field and develop specialized skills
    • Create opportunities for you to display your research 

    What qualifies me for a fellowship?

    The short answer is that it depends. Because different fellowships involve different requirements, certain experiences may make you more qualified. If a fellowship has a teaching requirement, and you have already spent time teaching, you may be more qualified for the award than someone who has done more research but no teaching. The most important qualification for a fellowship is a strong passion for the given academic niche and a willingness to share this with an academic community.

    How can I find fellowships?

    The easiest way to find fellowships is through your given institution, though job databases also may have fellowships posted as well. Often colleges and universities have career development offices that can link students to fellowship programs. Asking your professor or advisor about fellowship opportunities is also worthwhile. They are sure to be connected to other research organizations that might help. If you know any current fellows, talk to them about how they found their opportunity. If you don’t know any, reach out to current fellows highlighted on fellowship pages.

    Your dream fellowship is probably out there, it’s just a matter of finding it. If you’re motivated in your academic pursuits and know how to showcase this, you’re well on your way to securing a fellowship!

    See also: How to complete the FAFSA for graduate school

    How do you get a fellowship?

    Graduate and postgraduate students typically compete for fellowships. Scholars with the most promising research project are selected for “the prize,” which fellowship awards are sometimes called. This prize money tends to go directly towards the student’s tuition, though it can cover other academic-related expenses like travel to conferences, and other research projects.

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Fellowships are a form of money given to students, that functions much like a scholarship, but may obligate you to perform certain tasks while you are receiving it
    • Fellowships are generally for those who are currently completing a high level degree, such as a masters or doctorate, or those who have already completed that degree and are looking to bolster their resume
    • Depending on area of study, there are a few different kinds of fellowships 
    • Fellowships can typically be found through the institution you are currently enrolled at or an alumni of, or through job databases 
    Key Takeaways

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    Frequently asked questions about fellowships

    What’s the difference between a fellowship and an internship?

    The term internship can mean a lot of different things. Internships can be unpaid, short term, long term, and can greatly range in what they require for experience. Internships are something you might be able to get as soon as high school. Fellowships, on the other hand, are typically for those who are currently in the process of receiving a higher education degree or who have completed that degree already. They usually come with some type of salary and other benefits.

    Is it prestigious to get a fellowship?

    Getting any sort of fellowship is something you should be immensely proud of. A fellowship is a fantastic way to expand your education in any area, while also being surrounded by a plethora of other well educated individuals in your field.

    Do you get paid for a fellowship?

    Fellowships are typically paid. However, how you are paid and how much you are paid can vary quite a bit. Medical fellowships usually pay a flat salary to individuals, whereas academic fellowships may pay students a smaller amount, but may also provide things like housing, or a living stipend. Inquiring about how much you may be paid for a fellowship is something you can ask about if it is not already made clear to you before you apply.

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