Frequently Asked Questions

What is a fellowship?

A fellowship is a funded opportunity or award. The word “fellowship” is generally interchangeable with the words “scholarship” or “grant”.  Fellowships can range from two to five year awards in support of a degree to independent study projects for a two-week period in the summer. Fellowships are available for all kinds of students in support of a variety of goals and interests. Go to Find a Fellowship to locate the fellowships that are right for you.

What is involved in applying for fellowships?

Most fellowship applications require personal essays and/or project proposals along with letters of recommendation. Some fellowship applications include a personal interview as well. 

The quality of your writing in fellowship applications is critical, so expect to revise your essays and proposals multiple times. See Writing Fellowship Essays for some guidelines on how to approach this work.

Strong letters of recommendation are essential. See our tips on how to approach faculty for letters in Asking for Recommendations.

If a fellowship for which you are applying requires an interview, preparing for the interview is a must. See our tips on Interviewing for suggestions on how to proceed.

For what kinds of fellowships do I qualify?

You qualify to apply for any fellowship for which you meet the eligibility requirements, such as citizenship, class year, field of study, age, and GPA. See the list of fellowships on this website to identify awards for which you might qualify. Keep in mind that while you may technically qualify for a given fellowship, you need to determine if you meet the criteria for selection. The selection criteria are often more nuanced than the qualifications. Read this site's page on selection criteria for a general discussion of how fellowship committees make their selections.

When should I apply for research and fellowships opportunities?

Fellowship and research opportunities are available for Brown undergraduates at all stages of their careers. Application deadlines vary from award to award. Many fellowships are due during the fall semester or early spring. A few fellowships, such as the Marshall, require application during the summer a full year prior to the term of the award. For the latter fellowships, start preparing your application in the spring semester prior to the deadline.

If you plan to study abroad, consult the contact person for the particular fellowship in which you are interested to determine how to meet deadlines. Many students have successfully applied for fellowships while studying abroad, but doing so requires advance planning.

After you have graduated, you can apply for many of the fellowships available for seniors. There is no age limit for Fulbrights, for example, and you can apply for a Luce if you are 

What are my chances of winning x, y, or z fellowship?

Many factors influence the success or failure of any fellowship application. Before applying for a particular fellowship, carefully consider the criteria for selection as well as the mission of that fellowship. Keep in mind that many criteria are broadly defined and highly contextual. Contact the person at Brown or the foundation representative who administers the fellowship to determine if you might be a good candidate. If you feel that you meet the criteria for an award, work hard on the application, bearing in mind that most fellowships are very competitive.

Can I apply for more than one fellowship? Will it hurt my chances of winning?

You can apply for as many fellowships as you would like; there is no limit, and applying for multiple awards does not hurt your chances of winning. In fact, some fellowships offer similar opportunities, so it makes sense to apply for all fellowships that relate to your interests. Determine your goals and qualifications, and apply for the awards that match these, making sure that your applications are tailored to the unique identities of each award.

What must I submit by the campus deadline?

Brown-supported fellowships require submission of all application materials by the campus deadline. This includes letters of recommendation and other required documents such as transcripts. Check the individual fellowship pages on this website for submission requirements for each application. 

What offices support fellowships at Brown?

Brown offices that handle fellowship and grant opportunities include the Dean of the College Office, the Swearer Center for Public Service, the Career Development Center, the Office of International Programs, the Office of International Affairs, the German department, and the Watson Institute for International Studies. The contact person for each fellowship appears on the Find a Fellowship page.

Who can help me with writing fellowship essays?

Students applying for fellowships are advised to consult with a Brown faculty member while preparing the application. Ideally, the professor knows you well and is familiar with the field of study or independent project for which you are seeking the fellowship.

Administrative offices that support particular fellowships often have tips sheets for essay writing and staff who can provide feedback on essay drafts. Ask the office housing the particular fellowship about the available resources.

For general help with writing fellowships essays, contact the Writing Center in J. Walter Wilson. A graduate student writing associate can help you with any stage of the drafting process.  

Where can I find copies of winning applications?

The Dean of the College Office maintains binders with copies of winning applications for certain fellowships, such as the Fulbright. Come to 213 University Hall to review these materials, which cannot be photocopied and cannot leave the office.

Can I speak with previous fellowship winners?

Recipients of Brown and Brown-supported fellowships are listed on this website’s individual fellowship pages. Most previous winners are willing to talk with current applicants. Alumni who have received fellowships sometimes return to campus to share their experiences with prospective applicants. Check the Dean of the College calendar for all fellowship-related events.

Who should I ask for letters of recommendation and how should these be submitted?

See Recommendations.

Who serves on selection committees?

Faculty members, academic deans, other administrative officers, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and alumni recipients of awards typically serve on Brown’s fellowship committees.