The University of California at Berkeley offers the following information.

What is a Fellowship?

While the term “fellowship” is used by a variety of different programs, generally fellowships:

  • are short-term opportunities lasting from a few months to several years
  • focus on the professional development of the fellow (graduate student)
  • are sponsored by a specific association or organization seeking to expand leadership in their field

Fellowship programs can be designed to support a range of activities including:

  • graduate study in a specific field
  • research to advance work on a particular issue
  • developing a new community-based organization or initiative
  • training and reflection to support the fellow’s growth
  • opportunities to further explore a particular field of work

Fellowships have traditionally been awarded to graduate and post-graduate students, but there are an increasing number of fellowships available to recent college graduates in public policy, the arts, education, and other nonprofit fields.

Benefits of a Fellowship

Experiential Learning

Fellowships are structured to provide significant work experiences, and fellows are often expected to take on a great deal of responsibility quickly. Generally, fellows are provided with unique experiences that are not typically available to someone starting out in an entry-level position. This experiential learning component varies depending upon the fellowship program.

Training and Professional Development

Fellowship programs are known for their commitment to the professional development of individual fellows and often include intensive training. Key elements of this training might include:

  • academic seminars to develop frameworks and apply theory
  • in-depth research and analysis of a particular issue area
  • a broad curriculum of skills development: leadership, community organizing, public speaking, grant writing, media relation


Compensation is often considered the biggest drawback of a fellowship. Although most fellowship programs do provide a living allowance or stipend, it is typically not comparable to the salary of a full-time job. This financial compensation varies greatly – stipends can range from $10,000 to up to $25,000 for a 9-12 month program.

Other incentives are often provided to fellows such as healthcare coverage, student loan repayment assistance, and housing stipends.

The Application Process

Although eligibility requirements vary with the fellowship, most programs look for:

  • motivation, self-direction and personal integrity
  • highly developed interpersonal and writing skills
  • demonstrated leadership and potential for continued leadership

Applications can be extensive and often include a resume, transcript, letters of recommendation and writing sample. Depending on the fellowship, there may be additional application materials required as well.

In addition, the application to most programs includes an interview, either a series of individual interviews, a single panel interview, or situational group interviews in which candidates work together to devise responses to a problem or question.

Assistantships are similar to work-study programs at graduate schools and can be teaching or research centered.

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Featured fellowships

AUSL’s Chicago Teacher Residency: one-year, hands-on, urban teacher training where students practice and master signature strategies by working with a Mentor Teacher at one of AUSL’s training sites. All residents earn a Master’s degree, either a M.A.T. or an M.Ed. from National Louis University.

Boren:  provides up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education

Carnegie Junior Fellows: one-year fellowships to uniquely qualified graduating seniors and individuals who have graduated during the past academic year. (campus contact: Tom Meyers)

FTE (The Fund for Theological Education): dedicated to finding and supporting tomorrow’s Christian leaders–pastors and theological educators who serve the common good. (campus contact: Bob Yoder or Keith Graber Miller)

Fullbright: provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or English Teaching Assistantships. (campus contact: Tom Meyers)

Harry Ransom Center: annually awards over 50 fellowships to support research in all areas of the humanities, including literature, photography, film, art, the performing arts, music, and cultural history.

The Huntington: an independent research center with holdings in British and American history, literature, art history, and the history of science and medicine; awards over one hundred fellowships each year.

MacArthur: awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.

Marshall:  financing young Americans of high ability to study for a graduate degree in the United Kingdom. (campus contact: Tom Meyers)

The Newberry: administers annual competitions for both short-term fellowships of one to two months and long-term fellowships of four to twelve months to support researchers.

Phil Huffine Memorial Scholarship Fund:   named for one of the founding members of the Wellness Council of Indiana, seeks applicants for up to two $1,000 college scholarships.  Click herefor more information.

Rhodesprovides full financial support  to pursue a degree(s) at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Sloan Research: stimulating fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise;  two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 126 researchers.

Social Science Research Council: nurtures new generations of social scientists, fosters innovative research, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues.

Spencer Foundation: provides individual fellowships to doctoral students at the dissertation stage and to scholars engaged in postdoctoral work. Both programs support research related to education and are administered by the National Academy of Education (NAEd).

Smithsonian: provides opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral students to pursue independent research while working with Smithsonian scholars and collections.

Udall: awards two one-year fellowships of up to $24,000 to doctoral candidates whose research concerns U.S. environmental public policy and/or environmental conflict resolution. (campus contact: Ryan Sensenig)

Villers:  one year assignment as a full-time policy analyst in Families USA’s Health Policy Department; $38,000 salary.

White House Fellows: one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. White House Fellowships offer exceptional young men and women first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government.

Wilson Center: 9-month residential fellowships; fellows conduct research and write in their areas of interest, while interacting with policymakers.

Woodrow Wilson (Teaching): a $30,000 stipend, with tuition arrangements varying by campus in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio for committed individuals with backgrounds in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Fellowship search sites