Fellowship vs Internship - What's the difference?

Confused between fellowships, and internships? Here is a comprehensive take on the differences concerning these academic, and professional attributes

TCM Staff

27th October 2020

Graduates, students, and the working class are well acquainted with the terms, internship, and fellowship. Often mistaken to be the same, there is a stark difference between the nature and characteristics of these terms. While internships are typically for 6 months to one year (maximum), fellowships can extend for 3 to 4 years, depending on the subject of study. Here is our take on internships vs fellowships, and the precise concept revolving around the two subjects. 

Many simply don’t know the meaning of them. Very often people use it interchangeably and it creates confusion among the student community. In reality, these two words are very different from each other. One cannot replace an internship with a fellowship or vice-versa.

Difference Between Fellowship and Internship

A few decades ago, there was great confusion on the terms ‘internship’, and ‘fellowship’. They were used interchangeably. It is not so long ago that people realized the distinctive characteristics of both the terms. Where internships can be both paid or unpaid, fellowships typically receive generous funding, and the ‘fellows’ are awarded a definitive, fixed stipend. Another stark difference between internships and fellowships is the duration of the engagement. Internships have a shorter duration than fellowships. Fellowships can extend for years, however, an internship may extend for a few months or a year at maximum. Here are the top differences between internships, and fellowships - 


There is a stark difference in the meaning of the terms 'fellowship', and 'internships'.

Internships are basically offered to candidates by companies to gain experience and knowledge in a specific job

Fellowship programs are not for work experience but rather designed for in-depth learning and research. Here, more importance is given to theoretical study and research-based study. 

Time Period

The time invested in internships, and fellowships vary. While internships can last for a couple of months, fellowships may extend for years.

The duration for internship programs varies from 1 month to a year. But in general, it is for a period of one month to six months. They are usually given for a short period of time because after having experience as an intern one can start a job as a regular employee in that particular field. Internships can also be part-time or full-time, for part-time students work for a few hours beside their college hours, and for the full time, they have to work during regular office hours. 

A fellowship program’s time period varies from a few months to a few years. It may even last for two to three years. Depending on the institute and the type of study the timeline is decided. As this program demands rigorous research and hard work the time spent by fellows is higher as compared to interns. 


The benefits of both internships and fellowships are in multitudes. They have distinctive characteristics with a plethora of individual benefits. Few of these benefits are listed below - 


  • It gives students the feeling of working in the real world. Having knowledge in handling companies’ problems and finding solutions for those problems help students to build their resume and prepare them for a corporate job 

  • It gives them the understanding that whether they are meant for this particular job or not

  • It helps them in building good resumes, and portfolios 

  • Internships help candidates in their academic life as well 

  • It gives students the to utilize their summer break and to earn as well 

  • Internships help candidates build networks in the corporate field which is helpful for them in the future

  • Candidates learn about how companies function and what are the different policies of the company

  • It helps them in nurturing creativity, leadership skills, and practical thinking


  • Fellowships give students an opportunity of earning while learning 

  • Fellowships give students opportunities to dive deep into a particular field and to research about it

  • Fellows build connections with researchers, intellectuals, and other fellows during your fellowships 

  • Fellowships maintain their alumni records openly. Students can build connections with alumni members paving way for opportunities for apprenticeships. This can further aid in potential job offers

  • Being in touch with former fellows helps students land up with better job opportunities 

  • Fellowship gives students the ability to think in-depth 


The remuneration for internships and fellowships vary greatly. Few internships do not offer a salary, while fellows are typically offered a fixed pay. 

In the case of remuneration, it simply depends on your company. Internships can be both paid, and unpaid (depending on the organization). Off late, candidates are awarded optimal stipends for internships. 

Fellowships receive funding. Candidates are offered fixed remuneration for the tenure of work. In the case of fellowship programs, remuneration is quite high. They are paid generously by fellowship institutes. Though the pay is not equivalent to a job enough for one’s daily expenses. But the fellowships offered by prestigious institutes are even higher and they are equivalent to a job. 

What is an Internship?

An internship is a work offered especially to college students by companies. Students choose to work in companies during their college education to get exposure to the corporate world. Students also do take up internships to understand how different domains in the corporate world function. This gives them a better understanding and a broader outlook. Students take up internships related to their majors or concentration chosen by them or the area in which they are interested. It is not mandatory that only students who are pursuing college can take internships, even after completion of college one can take internships.  

Internships can be in any form, it can be part-time, full-time, or even work from home. Applicants have to choose the type of internship they want to do based on their free time and availability of time to devote to the internship program. The applications for internships suddenly rise during summer breaks as more number of students are willing to take internships during this break. In a few institutions, it is mandatory for their students to take up an internship while pursuing their graduate degree

An internship is a win-win situation both for employers and the candidates because employers get their work done at low pay and the employee gets to learn a lot of things and gain practical knowledge during their internship. 

You may also read - Internship for high school students

What is a Fellowship?

Fellowships are learning programs offered and sponsored by different institutes. Researchers are often called “Junior Research Fellows” and “Senior Research Fellows”. These programs focus on knowledge building and intellectual work. In order to get into Fellowship programs candidates have to prove themselves. These are merit-based programs. The candidates are called “fellows”. 

Different types of Fellowships are offered to different groups of people and in different fields. There are Fellowship opportunities for almost all age groups of people starting from school students to senior executives working in industries. Students can take advantage of different fellowship programs and can build their resumes. There is a large competition for Fellowship programs. Fellowships are offered in the field of science, medicine, literature, history, data analytics, and arts.


By looking at the above explanation now you must have understood the difference between Fellowships and Internships. Fellowships are mostly studying and research-oriented work whereas internships are mostly industry-specific work. Fellowships are comparatively difficult to acquire.  Thus, having a fellowship program will strengthen your resume to a great extent.

Though internships are quite common and easily available, it does not mean that it has no weightage. Doing an internship, of course, adds value to your resume. Especially if you have done an internship from a corporate house of repute, then it can be considered as a much-needed boost to your career. 

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