While the specifics of a fellowship can vary significantly from one field of study to the next, the term “fellowship” generally refers to a monetary award used to reduce the overall expense of postsecondary education. Funded opportunities with a brief lifespan—a few weeks to a few years, associations, organizations, institutions, or government departments sponsor fellowships and determine the qualifications for participation. By “fellowship,” people in the academic world usually mean a monetary reward to a student to help defray the costs of their studies. It is a form of financial aid awarded to students based on their demonstrated academic merit to pursue post-graduate study.
Although the term “fellowship” is typically reserved for graduate school, it is sometimes used by undergraduate institutions to name a college scholarship. The term is also occasionally used by private sector firms to describe an entry-level position for recent college graduates. Typically, when people hear the word “fellowship,” it is financial aid for those who have already received a bachelor’s degree, are working on a master’s or doctorate, and are furthering their education by taking a super-specialized graduate course or enrolling in a postdoctoral fellowship. In short, a fellowship is a (paid-for) enrichment opportunity that advances one’s academic and professional objectives.
Fellowships are frequently created to promote a variety of activities, such as:
- using opportunities to delve deeper into a specific field of work;
- participating in standalone or integrated research as part of a greater effort;
- establishing new organizations within communities;
- acquiring a graduate degree; or
- training in a certain field.
What do fellowships entail?
Graduate or post-graduate students can compete for fellowships awarded to those with the most promise of making significant contributions to a given field of study. Most fellowships are compensated, offering grants, stipends, or other forms of financial assistance. Some fellowships only pay for tuition, but others support research-related activities and special endeavors outside of the classroom, such as dissertations, exhibitions, and theses. Other perks like health insurance, travel or relocation subsidies, money for dependents, flexible funding for language classes, or housing are occasionally included with fellowships.
What types of fellowships are available?
All academic levels of students can apply for fellowships. The list below highlights the differences between various fellowship kinds and demonstrates the range of fellowships frequently offered:
Graduate students can receive financial aid to help with expenses like tuition, thanks to fellowships. Those who get fellowships may additionally receive a health insurance premium waiver and a living allowance to help defray the cost of living and reimbursement for some of the expenses associated with furthering their professional development.
Only doctors who have graduated from medical school and residency programs are eligible for medical fellowships. Medical fellows are board-certified physicians who have chosen to pursue additional training in a subspecialty to establish themselves as experts in that field.
Postdoctoral fellowships are intended for recent Ph.D. recipients who wish to continue their academic pursuits. The recipient of a predoctoral fellowship normally has the freedom to choose the graduate school and major in which the award will be used. Some postdoctoral fellowships pay for intensive study in a specialized field, allowing recipients to develop their expertise in an arcane but crucial area of study. Fellowships for postdocs can help cover the costs of a large research endeavor and provide a stipend for academic pursuits and nonacademic activities. As a condition of receiving a postdoctoral fellowship, many individuals are expected to share their knowledge through lecturing and conducting original research or demonstrating intellectual excellence and the potential that the student and their proposed research may have for making significant societal contributions.
To create the next generation of disciplinary and/or multidisciplinary specialists who will become leaders and innovators in their fields of expertise, traineeships are provided under training grants secured by institutional professors. Traineeships offer a competitive income and cost-of-education allowance, like predoctoral fellowships. Some may also provide research grants, internship possibilities, and opportunities for foreign research. The choice of the students who will take part in the advanced training program is made by the lead investigator(s), which is a key distinction between graduate traineeships and predoctoral fellowships.
Dissertation fellowships are designed for students who finish the dissertation writing process within a one-year grant and usually just offer a stipend for living expenses. Since the grantee is in an advanced stage of doctoral training and has completed the majority, if not all, of the required coursework, dissertation scholarships rarely offer educational allowances.