Getting Started

First: Self-Assess

Compatibility with the mission and goals of a particular fellowship opportunity is key to securing an award. You don't want to waste your time pursuing a fellowship to clean up lead mines in Colorado if you really want to study at the Sorbonne. Before applying for any fellowship, examine your interests, your strengths, and your goals. Do you possess the necessary background and skills to be a competitive applicant? How might a particular fellowship enhance your educational and life experience? Why might a fellowship selection committee find you to be a good fit for an award? Reflecting on these and other questions will help you navigate the thicket of fellowship opportunities and zero in on those that match your abilities and aspirations.

What are your interests?

  • Do you want an international experience or a domestic one?
  • Are you looking for something short term (such as a summer experience) or long term (for a year or two after graduation)?
  • What fields of study or inquiry most interest you?
  • Do you have a particular commitment you want to foster—the environment, the sciences, public service?
  • What kinds of schools and program support the project or opportunity you would like to pursue?
  • Do you want to participate in a formal program or do you wish to function independently?
  • Are you interested in graduate or professional school?

What are your strengths?

  • Some, but by no means all, fellowships require academic excellence. What story does your academic transcript tell?
  • Look at your extra-curricular activities, particularly if you assumed a leadership role or engaged in public service or mentoring. What do these activities say about your ability to work effectively with others, to manage complex projects, or to serve others?
  • What personal challenges have you overcome? How does your experience illustrate your abilities to persevere in the face of significant obstacles?
  • What do you really care about?  What are your values?  How will a particular fellowship enable you to make a significant contribution?

What are your goals?

  • What knowledge, abilities, or skills do you want to use and develop while on fellowship?
  • How will these qualities enhance your education and life after the fellowship is completed?
  • Once the fellowship is completed, what will you be able to contribute to an issue, an enterprise, or a cause that is larger than yourself?

Second: Identify Appropriate Research and Fellowship Opportunities

After you've reflected on your interests, strengths, and goals, peruse the List of Fellowships page on this site. Attend fellowship fairs and related events sponsored by the Dean of the College office to find research and fellowship opportunities that meet your goals and match your strengths. Make sure that your aims are compatible with the goals and mission of the award(s) for which you plan to apply.

Once you identify the fellowship most appropriate for your interests, learn as much as possible about the award and the place and program in which you hope to study or research. Consult with faculty who have research or teaching interests relevant to the fellowship. Contact recent alums who have won the fellowship in which you're interested. Talk with Dean Dunleavy about the application process, and read this website for suggestions on how to apply for the fellowship of your choice.