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How to Fund your Graduate Studies: An Overview of National Graduate Fellowships and How to Compete f


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Title: How to Fund your Graduate Studies: An Overview of National Graduate Fellowships and How to Compete f

How to Fund your Graduate Studies An Overview
of National Graduate Fellowships and How to
Compete for Them
July 7, 2007
Office of Proposal Development Office of the Vice
President for Research Lucy Deckard
For more information
  • For an electronic version of this presentation
    and background materials
  • Go to http//
  • Click on Seminar Materials then Seminars by
  • Click on todays date

How to Fund Your Graduate Studies
  • Types of Fellowships
  • Why bother?
  • Wheres the ?
  • How to apply and win
  • Overview of the Process and Strategies
  • Examples

Funding for Graduate Students
  • Research Assistantships
  • Funded by facultys research funding
  • Typically funded through proposal process
  • Teaching Assistantships
  • Funded by department
  • Teaching-related responsibilities, separate from
  • Graduate Fellowships
  • Dissertation Grants

The Continuum
Graduate School
Generic Fellowships
Dissertation Grants
Fellowships for Early Grad Students
Finish classes
Senior Year Undergrad
1st Year
Dissertation Work
Two Types of Fellowships
  • Awards directly to Students
  • Students compete directly for award
  • Award is portable with student
  • Examples
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate
  • J. Javits, Ford Foundation, Humane Studies
  • Many targeted fellowships (e.g., Semiconductor
    Research Graduate Fellowship, Whitaker Fellowship
    for Biomedical Engineering, ATT Fellowship,

Two Types of Fellowships
  • Institutional Awards
  • Awarded to departments, programs, etc.
  • Students selected by department, program or
  • Examples Graduate Assistantships in Areas of
    National Need (GAANN), larger programs (IGERT,
    AGEP, etc.)

Graduate Fellowships why bother?
  • Guaranteed source of funding
  • Stipends generally much higher than department
    RAs (NSF stipend 30K/yr)
  • Fellowships are portable more autonomy in
    selecting advisor, research project
  • Fellowship can be path to a job (e.g., National

Finding Potential Fellowships
  • Fellowship programs often targeted based on
    discipline, demographic group, career interests
  • Look for the fellowship programs that apply to
  • Excellent web resources available
  • Talk to faculty in your department

Finding Potential Fellowships
  • Variety of funders
  • Federal agencies (NSF, DoD, NASA, NIH, EPA, NEH,
    USDA, Dept. of Ed., Dept. Homeland Security,
  • Foundations
  • Professional Organizations
  • Corporations
  • For various stages
  • Early Graduate training
  • Dissertation Grant
  • Post-doctoral

Using the Internet to Find Fellowships
  • See OPD webpage for this seminar
  • Two types of sites
  • Compedia of Fellowships
  • Cornell http//
    st.phtml?categoryGENERAL 1
  • http// 2, 3
  • Specific agency and/or fellowships
  • DHS Graduate Fellowship http//
    / , 4

Example National Fellowships
  • National Science Foundation, 1000 awarded
    annually, usually due early November annually
  • https//
  • NASA Earth Systems Science Fellowships, 50 new
    fellowships awarded annually, due February
  • http//
  • Department of Defense Science and Engineering
    Graduate Fellowships, 200 awarded annually, due
    January http//
  • EPA STAR and GRO Fellowships, 115 awarded
    annually, due Oct. or Nov. annually
  • DHS, 60 awarded annually due Jan. annually
  • Dept. of Education, J. K. Javits Fellowships (48)
    due Oct. annually
  • http//

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate
  • Eligibility
  • US citizen or national
  • Pursuing doctoral degree in, or closely related
    to, one of the following disciplines having the
    greatest benefit to national security

GeosciencesMaterials Science and
EngineeringNaval Architecture and Ocean
Aeronautical and Astronautical Eng
BiosciencesChemical EngineeringChemistryCivil
EngineeringCognitive, Neural, and Behavioral
Sci. Computer and Computational
ScienceElectrical EngineeringPhysics            
Fellowships for Minorities
  • Ford Foundation - Predoctoral Fellowships for
    Minorities. The 21,000/year fellowships are
    awarded to individual minority students who
    demonstrate superior scholarship and show promise
    for future achievement as scholars, researchers,
    and teachers. November deadline.
  • American Sociological Association - Minority
    Fellowship Program. An annual stipend of 14,688
    for up to three years for minority graduate
    students in the early stages of sociology
    graduate programs with emphasis on mental health
    issues and research. January deadline.
  • GEM PhD Engineering Fellowship Program. Min 14,
    000 for 5 years for engineering (M.S, PhD) and
    science (PhD)majors. Due November.

Fellowships for Minorities
  • United Negro College Fund Merck Foundation
    Science Initiative - Graduate Science Research
    Dissertation Fellowships. Up to 42,000 stipend
    to assist African-American graduate students in
    completing coursework, conducting research, and
    preparing dissertation in the biomedical
    sciences. December deadline. http//
  • Social Science Research Council and the Andrew W.
    Mellon Foundation - SSRC-Mellon Minority
    Fellowship Program. Up to ,5000 to increase
    number of African Americans, Latinos, and Native
    Americans in the arts and sciences for students
    enrolled in Ph.D. programs in Mellon-designated
    fields. Citizenship unspecified. Deadline
    November (annual). http//
  • National Physical Science Consortium Traditional
    Fellowships for Minorities and Women. 15,000
    stipend for 2 to 3 years. Nov. deadline.

Fellowships for Women
  • American Association of University Women -
    International Fellowships. 18,000 awards to
    women graduate students studying in the United
    States who are not U.S. citizens. December
    deadline. http//
  • American Association of University Women -
    Selected Professions Fellowships. Approximately
    5,000-12,000 awards for women in the final year
    of graduate study in historically
    under-represented professions, including Business
    Administration, Law, Medicine, Architecture,
    Computer Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering.
    January deadline. http//

Analysis of Applicant Instructions/RFP
  • What are eligibility requirements?
  • When is the application due?
  • How many are awarded each year?
  • Apply through university or as individual?
  • What criteria are used to evaluate applications?
  • Check with faculty in your department (may have
    been on review panel)
  • Look at goals of funding organization
  • What are the required components of the
    application and what is application process?
  • Contact awarding organization if you have

Typical Application Components
  • Biographical information
  • GRE scores
  • Transcript
  • Letters of Reference
  • Essays/Proposal
  • Discussion of proposed research
  • Often, discussion of one or more research
  • Sometimes, other questions

Fellowship Application is Mini-Research
  • You are selling yourself and your ideas
  • Identify fellowship opportunities for which you
    are eligible
  • Analyze what they are looking for (review
  • Write best possible application
  • Gather and submit other required material
    (references, GRE scores, etc.)

What are They Looking For?
  • Will you further the goals of the funder?
  • Will you be a successful graduate student and
  • Do you understand the research process?
  • Do you do your homework?
  • i.e., read the literature in your area,
    understand previous work, etc.
  • Can you express your ideas well?
  • Is your selected area of research something they
    want to support?
  • Varies in importance depending on mission of
  • Are you one of the best candidates in the
    applicant pool?

Putting together your application
  • Find faculty mentor(s)
  • Faculty with whom you plan to do your graduate
  • Faculty in your undergraduate department
  • Graduate coordinator in your department
  • They will provide advice on research plan,
    critique your writing
  • Ask for references early and check
  • Make sure GRE scores, transcripts, etc. will be
    available on time

Writing Strategies
  • Start early and get others to edit your work!
  • Write in a scholarly style
  • Make it clear you understand your subject
  • Cite references if allowed
  • Make it clear that you understand the research
  • Clear hypothesis, goals, objectives
  • Discussion of your planned approach with
    sufficient detail to show your understanding of
    the topic

Hotlinks to Writing Strategies
  • Many resources available on how to write good
  • See hotlink table e-mailed to you
  • Grant Doctor in Science Magazine
  • Agency-specific guides
  • Google
  • Excellent books on writing
  • Schrunk and White (http//
  • The Art of Writing Proposals, by the Social
    Science Research Council, available online at

Evaluation Review Criteria
  • Read application, related information carefully
  • find out what they are looking for
  • Investigate goals and culture of funder
  • Reflect vision of the funding agency

  • Select faculty who know you well
  • Select faculty who will give you a positive
  • Undergraduate research experience great
    opportunity to develop references
  • Follow up and make sure they sent in your
    reference letter

Example NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
  • Typically due early November
  • 1000 to be awarded this year
  • For any research area funded by NSF
  • Includes Education, Social and Behavioral
    Sciences as well as Science and Engineering
  • Look through NSF web site at for
    research areas

How to Apply for NSF Fellowship
  • See and
    https// for
    application instructions, FAQ, etc.
  • Apply on-line using NSFs Fastlane system at
  • Parts of application
  • Information form (name, school, etc.)
  • Application form (includes two essay questions)
  • Proposed Plan of Research
  • Previous Research Experience
  • References
  • GRE, GPA form and transcript request form

NSF Fellowship
  • 30,000 per year plus 10,500 education allowance
    for 3 years
  • Must be US Citizen or permanent resident
  • May apply
  • during undergrad senior year
  • prior to or during 1st year of grad school,
  • or at beginning of 2nd year of grad school

Strategies to Win
  • Good grades and GRE scores help
  • GPAs typically 3.7 or higher but not always
  • Undergraduate research experience
  • Good essay answers
  • Great research proposal
  • Excellent references

Research Proposals
  • Be original.
  • A less polished essay that shows evidence of the
    students own creativity is usually more
    impressive than a sophisticated plan that is not
  • Be rigorous.
  • The best research proposalsdemonstrate that the
    applicant understands how to conduct research in
    his/her discipline using the scientific method
  • Be clear and well-organized.
  • The best proposals demonstrate creativity in
    thinking about research questions as well as
    communication and organizational skills.

  • Start early
  • Do your homework
  • Ask for help
  • The Office of Proposal Development is available
    to help contact me
  • Lucy Deckard at