September 27, 2008

Postgraduate fellowships and scholarships - understanding them

What are fellowships?

Finding funding for graduate school education can be a challenge. Fewer scholarship and grant programs are available than for undergraduates, leaving many graduate students to rely on student loans. However, another option is to look for fellowships to help pay tuition, fees, and living expenses.

According to Wikipedia, a fellowship is a merit-based scholarship, or form of academic financial aid. There are two main types of fellowships: institutional fellowships and portable, or external, fellowships.

Types of fellowships

Institutional fellowships are given by a specific university to a student who will study at that university. Portable fellowships, on the other hand, offer students more freedom, as they allow you to choose any university that matches your scholarly interests.

These types of fellowships can be offered by the federal government or by independent organizations. They are often based on need or merit and may be specific to a field of study or demographic group. In addition, recipients of portable fellowships may be required to repay the fellowship amount by working for a specified time in the industry.

Both institutional and portable fellowships may be specifically applied to different times of your graduate program. For example, some fellowships are designed to provide you with financial support as you work on your dissertation. These fellowships are also called dissertation grants.

How to find fellowships for your study

To find fellowship options:
  • Talk to the professors at both your undergraduate school and in your graduate program.
  • Check the Internet.
  • Check with professional organizations, corporations, and foundations.
  • Check with federal agencies that are involved with your field of study.
Fellowships are sometimes not available to students in their first year of a doctoral program. As you are searching for fellowships, be sure to check whether you will be eligible as a first-year student.

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