University of Vermont

The Honors College

So You Want to Apply For a Fellowship: An FAQ

fellowmaddy3 You won't spend your entire fellowship in the lab or in the classroom. You may spend part of it in the mud, like Maddy Murphy-Hall '10. Murphy-Hall visited the Dead Sea and its mud (famous for its exfoliating abilities) while on a Boren Scholarship in Jordan.

That's fantastic! A nationally competitive grant or fellowship is an extremely special and unique opportunity that will allow you to delve deeper into your passions through research and/or travel. Applying for and possibly winning a nationally competitive fellowship will have life changing results.

If you're just starting the process, you probably have a few questions. Such as...

1. What is a nationally competitive fellowship or scholarship?

A fellowship is an opportunity for a student to receive financial support to help pursue their academic interests or passions more in depth. The fellowships listed on this website are nationally competitive opportunities; students around the country are applying for these awards, which are given out by the U.S. Government or non-profit foundations. Some fellowships offer opportunities to pursue research (often in graduate school) while others may provide funding for the last years of undergraduate education. The pages on this website describe fellowships that you might consider, the application process involved, and give advice to applicants.

2. Is a Fellowship right for me?

Good question. A nationally competitive fellowship is for high-achieving students who have big dreams and an idea of how they want to accomplish them; the only thing lacking is the means. It's also a unique and useful way to clarify personal, academic, or career goals.

Applying for a nationally competitive grant, scholarship or fellowship can be an in-depth, intense year-long process. Piling a personal statement or a research proposal on top of a heavy academic course load and extracurricular activities is not a challenge for the faint of heart. However, the process of applying for a fellowship usually directly coincides with work you need to be doing to prepare for graduate study anyway.

3. Sounds great! How do I apply?

It depends on what you're applying for. Check out UVM's List of Fellowships and Scholarships to find a fellowship that fits into what you're working on. You should familiarize yourself with application requirements well in advance of deadlines. Applications sometimes require a "personal statement," a specific proposal for research or a course of study, one or more interviews, anywhere from three to eight letters of recommendation, as well as complicated biographical data forms.

Several fellowships require official institutional nomination and, for all of these, an initial application must be submitted to the Fellowships Office in the Honors College by a deadline that may be one month or more before the external deadline. The Fellowships Committee will review the applications and may interiew applicants as part of the internal selection process.

4. What's an internal application?

All fellowships requiring institutional nomination require you to submit an application for review by the Fellowships Committee. In some cases, the application you submit will be the full fellowship application; in other cases, you will not be required to complete all the official fellowship forms at the internal stage.

Do not think of the internal application as a "draft" application. Yes, you will have some limited time to make revisions before submitting the external application. But the internal application will form the basis of the Committee's evaluation of your candidacy. It is important that it represent your best work. Check spelling, capitalization, grammar, and sentence structure. The care that you put into your application shows.

You should also put some care and preparation into the campus interview if one is required. There is no need to dress up, but you should be neat and presentable. Review your application prior to the interview, and be prepared to elaborate on anything contained within it. As much as is possible, prepare orally: don't just think through answers to possible questions, actually say them! If you feel self-conscious talking to yourself, find a friend or professor to pose questions to you. Be prepared for unexpected questions: an unanticipated response to something in your application, something emerging from an article in the New York Times or The Economist, or anything else your interviewer chooses to ask. If you don't understand a question, don't be afraid to ask for clarification. Try to answer completely, but concisely. Don't fret over less than perfect answers; even very strong interviews may have a couple of rough spots. Nervousness is inevitable, but need not be debilitating.

5. What kind of characteristics are Fellowship Committees looking for?

First, all scholarships and fellowships are looking for students that have done well in the classroom. Some of the opportunities listed on this page require that students have GPAs as high as 3.6 or 3.7. Other fellowships, including the Fulbright, Truman, and Udall Scholarships do not have a set GPA that they want to see from applicants, but they do expect that all applicants have a strong academic record.

Second, fellowships and scholarships are given to students that have shown leadership on campus and in their community. "Leadership" is not limited to student government; it can be shown by getting involved in clubs and taking a leadership role in organizing events on campus. Leadership is also taking initiative to change something on campus or in your community for the better. Demonstrating your leadership comes down to explaining how you have taken an active role in doing something that betters your surroundings.

6. What if I'm an International Student?

Unfortunately, most of the fellowships discussed in this website require U.S. citizenship or at least resident alien status. There are, however, many important exceptions. The Jack Kent Cooke Fellowships are open to international students on absolutely the same basis as to US students. International students may also apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, though doing so requires an additional preliminary application and screening. Similarly, citizens of 16 Commonwealth nations may also apply for Rhodes Scholarships; here too, deadlines are earlier and advanced planning is necessary.

7. Seems like a lot to keep track of. Can anyone on campus help me out?

Yep. Fellowships Advisor Brit Chase is ready and willing to help all UVM students find a fellowship or scholarship that's right for them. She's in the Fellowships Office (which is located in the Honors College) and can also help students through the application process by assisting with compiling a polished proposal, helping students prepare for interviews, and making sure that UVM students navigate the application process smoothly.

So, to get started fill out the Fellowships Questionnaire . Then contact UVM's Fellowships Office and set up an appointment. We can get you going on the right track.

Last modified October 19 2011 09:04 AM