What is a Fellowship?

The fellowship is an honorary title carrying certain privileges awarded to a graduate and postgraduate student. It is both a tangible and intangible benefit that the student gets from the fellowship that makes it such a privilege to get one.

Updated by Kritika Pathak on 15th February 2020

The fellowship is an award which is granted to the graduate students if they’re looking for awards to fund their education and gain work experience at the same time. Fellowships are awarded for funding graduate student’s tuition fee and they’re short-term opportunities. It is applied for experienced students and it enhances the status of the students.

It is awarded for the students who are interested in pursuing research or graduate students. They are merit-based and the fellowship opportunity can help the student enter a work field and get experience. It helps the students get exposure in their career and grow as leaders.

There are professional fellowships which are funded by the different organizations, both private and government.

Some features of fellowship are:

  • They are short-term and can last from months and years.

  • It helps in the professional development of the student.

  • They are made to support various activities during the graduate degree.

  • Fellowships can also be of help during research, development of an organization, or finding new opportunities to grow in a particular field of work.

How to find a fellowship program?

Fellowships were traditionally awarded to the graduate students, but with its recent developments, it is now available for the undergraduate degree students as well.

You can check the fellowship websites and check for the listing of jobs. Talking to the students who have received the fellowship can also be of great help.

Why pursue a fellowship?

Provides learning experience

  • Fellowships are designed to provide work experience and the individuals are expected to take up necessary responsibilities and make sure to fulfill them.

  • The individuals who receive fellowship receive an exposure in the work field which other individuals starting as an entry-level job don’t.

  • Hence, the learning experience becomes fruitful and it differs and depends on the kind of fellowship program an individual is entitled to.

Develops an individual

  • Since the fellowship programs are known to provide professional excellence, it includes training of the fellows and providing them with the necessary skills.

  • Seminars are conducted for the students to provide them with the knowledge and academic sessions are held as well. It helps in developing the foundational theories.

  • Research and analysis are conducted on particular topics.

  • Skills and potential of the individuals are developed such as public speaking, leadership, media analysis and many others.

Fellowships are paid; however, it does not provide a stipend as great as employees get for entry-level jobs. The compensation varies greatly, depending on the organization which provided it and for the purpose.

Other expenses are covered such as healthcare, housing expenditure and student loan repayment.

Applying for Fellowships Eligibility & Requirements

  • You should be an undergraduate or a post-graduate student.

  • The complete application form must be submitted before the deadline.

  • Reference letter from the college.

  • Should be a citizen of the United States; or be a permanent resident of the United States.

  • A student should be accepted for enrolment or is enrolled in an institution receiving an allocation of fellowships; and

  • Should be in a program that combines modern foreign language training with an area or international studies.

  • Research and training in the international phases of professional and other areas of study.

  • Should show high academic achievement in indices as-Grade point average (GPA), class ranking, or other measures that the institution may determine.

Fellowships are highly competitive but you can do something great with that opportunity. It’s paid and hence you can cover many costs. The fellowship programs are provided by universities, research institutes, government, NGO’s, Libraries, Foundations, and Hospitals.

They can be considered as scholarships, but more prestigious as it grants recognition along with the money.

The eligibility requirements vary for each fellowship program.

How to apply for a fellowship program?

Winning a fellowship program is not an easy task. However, if you’re determined enough and clear goals in your mind, it can be achieved conveniently.

Here are some points which should be kept in mind when you’re applying for a fellowship program:

You should make a clear goal or objective of the fellowship program.

  • Since it is a great opportunity, don’t let it go to waste. You should have an objective in your mind for why you’re applying for the program.

  • Apply for it only if you’re interested in the learning process and the opportunity the fellowship program provides.

  • You ask the questions such as why you’re interested in it, would the opportunity be beneficial for you in the future or not.

Look for the eligibility

  • Since most of the fellowship programs are awarded on the basis of the merit, you should look out for your grades.

  • Researching in detail about the various clause of the fellowship in depth.

  • Deciding on to what tour goals are and how would one go about for the scholarship.

  • Seeking advice from the person in charge, faculty and OGP advisers.

Each process of application of fellowship is different and it involves a good deal of thinking and writing about yourself and your interests.

Applications typically include:

  • Personal statement, which includes a clear narrative about the applicant and why they are qualified for the graduate study. 

  • A research proposal is a brief and logical summary of your proposed research.

  • Resume and the purpose of a resume are provided to give a summary of your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. 

  • Letters of recommendation are written by an authorized person in an institute or a company who can recommend an individual's work or academic performance.

Types of fellowship programs

The fellowship programs are monetary based; however, the type of fellowship you receive would be different from others. It differs for various courses.

For example, an individual pursuing a Doctorate Degree would get a fellowship which can fund his/her research as funding would help in looking for more facts.

If another individual has done its MD, then medical fellowships would be granted for the research which can help him/her advance in their fields and career.

  • You can get a pre-dissertation fellowship. Here, the committee funds the student if they think the student has the potential of being a good graduate student and a researcher. The research doesn’t get the funding at this stage. The research can change here since in this stage the students are indulged into completing the coursework and prepare for research.

  • The second type is the dissertation research fellowship. The students can find various sources to fund their research. It is focused towards the areas of the funding organization. The students must make a clear plan of their research work and have adequate knowledge about the same. The funding committee would want to know whether a student is well versed with their research idea, is getting enough support from the faculty to help in the research and if there are enough facilities to conduct the research.

  • After the completion of the dissertation, students usually receive a stipend to support their dissertation or research work. If this award is granted, other institutions may be ineligible to fund the research.

In the field of academic and education, there are various types of fellowship, awarded for various reasons such as:

  • Fellowship for Research

This is a type of fellowship that one gets due to the work in the field of research. Thus from this fellowship, the person can continue the research. They are also known as fellowship doctor.

  • Fellowship for Teaching

The one with this fellowship has to assist the teacher with one or more classes. The title of senior teaching fellow that is bestowed upon them is somewhat equivalent to the title of the senior lecturer.

  • Fellowship as prize or honor

Fellowship is not only about the cash prize but it can be awarded in the form of honor and prize.

  • Medical Fellowship

These are offered to M.D. students for completing an in-depth training in an advanced specialty of medical science.

 What are the benefits provided by fellowships?

  • You will gain practical experience and skills required for working in the real time. It would develop your potential since there is a project you’ll be working on along with the various responsibilities provided to you.

  • Since you will have some work experience after this, it would help you get jobs conveniently.

  • Incentives such as health care and housing would also be provided however it depends on the type of program.

  • Conferences and seminars held will equip you with better knowledge of the world.

  • The program would help you develop professionally and learn skills such as writing, public speaking, leadership, and others.

  • Since you will get the allowance and monetary benefits, it would help you focus more on work and stay stable.

  • You would not be required to pay the taxes from the money received from the fellowship program.

  • Confidence and self-esteem would be boosted after receiving the fellowship as it adds credibility to the research and motivates you to be a leader.

 Fellowship VS Scholarships

Can be a Financial Aid or not

Definitely a financial aid

Mainly given to undergraduates, graduates or experienced individuals at work.

Anyone can apply for a scholarship irrespective of their position in their academic career.

Based on merit or talent

Based on need base, merit or other factors

Might include an internship or community service

Mostly, it does not include an internship or community service


It is designed in such a way that for a student it would support in a variety of ways. Does graduation in the field of interest, continue the research, and learn through experience

The fellowship is a perfect opportunity that one needs to for an all-round development; whether it might be in the field of academic or professional interests. This would help one to study abroad and get involved in the postgraduate degree, research or take a public service.

Blogs you might be interested in 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.What is the duration of the fellowship program?

    The duration may vary from few months to two years, depending on the type of the fellowship program and research.

  • 2.Can I apply for more than one fellowship program?

    Yes. You may apply for more than one fellowship program but you should have carefully thought about which one to go for.