One of the many challenges of graduate school is obtaining the funding needed to pay for tuition, fees and living expenses. Fortunately, there are government agencies, institutions of higher education and other organizations that recognize the value of a graduate education, and these parties know it is in their best interest to help students afford to pursue a Masters or PhD degree through graduate fellowships.
Through fellowships for graduate students, these organizations make it possible for many students to fund their graduate studies with a great deal of independence, while institutional fellowships are given by a specific university where the student is expected to conduct his or her research or earn their degree.
Types of Fellowships for Graduate Students
Portable graduate fellowships, unlike institutional fellowships, can be applied to the institution of higher education of the student’s choice. While many fellowships require students to study at an approved school, a portable fellowship affords the student much more freedom than an institutional fellowship from a particular university. Portable graduate fellowships allow students to be more discerning when selecting a graduate program, as they are empowered with both the funds and the choices necessary to enroll in the program that aligns best with their research interests and goals.
How Graduate School Fellowships are Awarded
Graduate fellowships may be university-awarded, federally funded or may be fellowships offered by independent organizations, and many graduate fellowship programs are targeted to a specific student group or field of study. Portable fellowships are often referred to as “external” fellowships, and can award funding based on academic need, academic record or merit. The amount of the stipend granted varies depending upon a number of factors, including length of graduate school fellowships and fellowship provider.
Here is a list of portable graduate fellowship programs that will not only help you afford graduate school, but will also enable you to gain perspective on your chosen field outside of what the confines of your university has to offer (Remember, however, that most graduate students are NOT funded on fellowships but on Teaching or Research Assistantships):
Browse Graduate Fellowships:
- Federally Funded Portable Fellowships
- Portable Fellowships from Independent Organizations
- Institutional Fellowships
The Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Disease Fellowship Program provides educational and experiential opportunities for racial and ethnic minority medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, and public health graduate students in a broad array of public health activities. Ferguson Fellows are engaged for eight weeks in a rigorous program of public health research and/or intervention, which they summarize in a scientific presentation at the end of the session. Ferguson Fellows’ travel and housing expenses are paid, and they receive a stipend for the summer.
The U.S. Department of Energy provides funding for students in their first or second year of graduate study in the fields of physical, engineering, computers, mathematics, and life sciences. The fellowships are renewable up to four years. Students receive about $31,000 a year, as well as a $1,000 annual academic allowance for travel, research activities and attending conferences. Some students may also get matched funds for computer support up to $2,475.
U.S. citizens or nationals pursuing a doctorate in a field that benefits national security are eligible for this three-year fellowship from the Department of Defense. Fields of study include: aeronautics/astronomy; bioscience; chemical engineering; chemistry; civil engineering; computational, neural, and behavioral sciences; electrical engineering; physics; geosciences; mathematical science and engineering; mechanical engineering; naval architecture; ocean engineering; and oceanography. Stipends are given for 12-month periods. Students can receive $30,500 in the first year, $31,000 in the second year and $31,500 in the third year. The fellowship also pays for minimum health insurance coverage through the students institution, up to $1,000 a year.
This fellowship program is intended for U.S. undergraduate students entering graduate school or graduate students in their first year of graduate school. To be eligible, students must be pursuing the highest possible graduate degree in the fields of the arts, humanities or social sciences. For up to 48 months, the fellowship will cover the tuition and fees, as well as provide a need-based stipend. Of the fellowships granted, 60 percent are bestowed upon humanities students, while the remaining 40 percent is split equally between students of the arts and social sciences.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) administers a wide range of fellowships and internships that are STEM based. ORISE manages fellowships for the US Department of Energy and over a dozen other Federal agencies. If you are interested in STEM based research at teh graduate level then ORISE has many options with you in mind. The full spectrum of opportunities spans undergraduate through postdocs and even university faculty memebers.
The Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship Program increases the number of graduate degrees awarded to underrepresented persons (women, minorities and/or persons with disabilities) participating in the STEM workforce, thereby eliminating the shortage of skilled workers. Approximately 20 students are selected annually to receive financial support for their graduate education. Fellowship tenure is a maximum of 36 months for individuals pursuing a doctorate and/or masters degree in NASA-related fields, for example; aeronautics/aerospace, biology, physics, chemistry, etc. The fellowship provides up to three years of support that includes a stipend and tuition offset. Annual stipends for students pursuing master’s degrees start at $16,000. Annual stipends for students pursuing doctoral degrees start at $22,000. Regardless of the degree pursued, annual tuition offsets start at $8,500.
This program encourages students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to seek graduate degrees in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to help increase the number of well-trained scientists from underrepresented groups. The fellowship provides up to five years of support for research training leading to the PhD or equivalent research degree, the combined MD/PhD degree or other combined degrees in the biomedical or behavioral sciences.
The Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences offer Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships and related supporting activities in an effort to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in selected areas of science in the United States. These fellowships support training and research in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in a host institution only in the areas of biology and social, behavioral and economic sciences within the purview of NSF. Supporting activities include travel grants to graduate students to visit prospective sponsors and starter research grants for Fellows.
Rome Prize Applications are accepted in the following fields: Arts (architecture, design, historic preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, musical composition, visual arts) and Humanities (ancient studies, medieval studies, Renaissance and early modern studies, modern Italian studies). Each Rome Prize winner is provided with a stipend, meals, a bedroom with private bath, and a study or studio. Those with children under 18 live in partially subsidized apartments nearby. Winners of 6-month and 11-month fellowships receive stipends of $12,500 and $25,000, respectively.
Dissertation Fellowships: To qualify, applicants must have completed all course work, passed all required preliminary examinations and received approval for their research proposals or plan by a certain date. Open to applicants in all fields of study, except engineering.
Selected Professions Fellowships: Awarded to women who intend to pursue a full-time course of study at accredited institutions during the fellowship year in one of the designated degree programs where women's participation traditionally has been low.
Research Fellows Program: This program receives support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to provide fellowships for beginning educational policy researchers, including advanced graduate students, to focus on policy-related research while in residence at either NSF or NCES. Minority researchers are strongly encouraged to apply.
Dissertation Grants Program: This program receives support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to provide funding for advanced graduate students conducting educational policy-related dissertation proposals using NCES, NSF and other national data bases. Minority researchers are strongly encouraged to apply.
Fellowships of up to $12,000 are available to minority candidates who have been accepted into a doctoral accounting program. Students must have earned a masters degree and/or have completed at least 3 years of full-time experience in the accounting practice.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS) Fellowship: Funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this fellowship program is directed at students in clinical, counseling, and school psychology, or other psychology doctoral students whose training prepares them to provide counseling, therapy, testing, assessments, etc. The fellowships include stipends and funding assistance for living expenses, and they can be renewed annually for a maximum of three years.
This graduate fellowship program offers up to three years of funding to minority students studying sociology with a focus on mental health issues and research. Students devoted to mental health and drug abuse research can receive an annual stipend of up to $20,772. The stipend can be renewed for three years and students are not required to repay the funds. However, this graduate fellowship does not cover the expenses of doctoral dissertations.
The 13 Consortium schools have offered more than 300 fellowships annually, covering tuition and mandatory fees for two years of full-time study. Applicants who are admitted through the Consortium process and become Consortium members are considered for these prestigious fellowships. Individual schools may also award other merit based scholarships and financial aid.
These awards will be made to individuals committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, who show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and who are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.
Predoctoral Fellowships: The program has previously awarded approximately 60 predoctoral fellowships each year. The predoctoral fellowships provide three years of support for individuals engaged in graduate study leading to a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of science (ScD) degree. Predoctoral fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Research Council (NRC) on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The annual stipend of $20,000 and $2,000 institution award can be renewed annually for up to three years.
Dissertation Fellowships: The program has previously awarded approximately 35 dissertation fellowships a year. The dissertation fellowships provide one year of support for individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of science (ScD) degree. Dissertation fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Research Council (NRC) on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The one-year stipend of $21,000 is offered in addition to conference expenses.
The Academy Fellowship Program is an annual leadership training program for multi-ethnic students who have at minimum completed their undergraduate studies and want experience working on low-income and minority economic development. Through the Main Project Assignment, fellows work independently and develop expertise in a specific program area (banking, health, telecommunications or sustainable development) under the direction of Greenlining staff.
This merit-based fellowship covers the cost-of-attendance and includes a personal-support stipend for U.S. citizens pursuing a PhD in fields related to applied physical and engineering sciences. The fellowship is renewable annually for up to five years. Fellows with dependent children receive an additional stipend.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute will award at least 80 five-year fellowships for full-time study toward a PhD or ScD degree in the biological sciences. The fellowships are intended for students who have completed less than one year of graduate study toward an MS, PhD or ScD degree in the biological sciences. Students who hold or are pursuing medical or dental degrees (MD, DO, DVM, DS) may also be eligible to apply for fellowship support for study toward a PhD or ScD.
The 2010 Teaching Fellowships support exceptional individuals who are committed to becoming outstanding mathematics and science teachers in U.S. high schools. Applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree in biology, a physical science, mathematics or a related field, and have received their most recent content degree within the past five years. Individuals who are currently enrolled in a secondary math or science teaching credential program are eligible if they are within five years of their most recent content degree and will not have completed their credential before December 2009.
Fellowships will be awarded in each of three disciplinary strands: biology, physical science, and mathematics. Benefits include: Financial and professional support for up to five years, including tuition assistance for up to two years and a monthly stipend while fellows are enrolled in a recognized teacher credential program. Room, board, travel expenses and fees for summer professional development activities as well as a monthly stipend during the summer. Opportunities to apply for instructional materials, academic year professional development, school-site mentor support, support for National Board Certification and financial support for leadership activities. Membership in a professional organization. Room, board and travel expenses for three meetings per year with other KSTF Fellows.
More than 20 graduate students are awarded this fellowship by technology giant Microsoft. The tuition and fees of eligible graduate students in the area of computer science will be covered by the company. Students also receive funding to cover some living expenses, as well as money to cover the cost of attending professional conferences. The fellowship award will cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for two academic years, and a stipend is provided to cover living expenses while in school. A conference and travel allowance is provided for recipients to attend professional conferences or seminars, and all recipients will be offered the opportunity to complete salaried internships with either Microsoft Research or Microsoft Live Labs in Redmond, Washington. Fellowships are awarded to recipients for two academic years only and are not available for renewal.
MS Engineering Fellowship Program: The objective of this program is to promote the benefits of a masters degree within industry. GEM Fellows are provided practical engineering summer work experiences through an employer sponsor and a portable academic year fellowship of tuition, fees and a stipend which may be used at any participating GEM Member University where the GEM Fellow is admitted.
PhD Engineering Fellowship Program: The objective of this program is to offer doctoral fellowships to underrepresented minority students who have either completed or are currently enrolled in a masters engineering program. Fellowships may be used at any participating GEM Member University where the GEM Fellow is admitted.
PhD Science Fellowship Program: The goal of this program is to increase the number of minority students who pursue doctoral degrees in the natural science disciplines— chemistry, physics, earth sciences, mathematics, biological sciences and computer science. Applicants to this program are accepted as early as their junior undergraduate year, as well as candidates currently enrolled in a masters of engineering program and working professionals. Fellowships offered through this program are portable and may be used at any participating GEM Member University where the GEM Fellow is admitted.
NPSC offers a unique graduate fellowship in the physical sciences and related engineering fields. It is open to all U.S. citizens, but with emphasis on recruitment of applications from historically under-represented minorities and women. An NPSC Fellowship covers the first two or three years of graduate school, depending on the employer who sponsors the fellowship, with the possibility of continuation for several more years providing all the conditions of the fellowship continue to be met. The maximum duration is six years, in which case the overall value (stipend, tuition, fees, summer salary for two summers) of an NPSC fellowship typically well exceeds $200,000.
The Fellowships are grants for up to two years of graduate study in the United States. The recipients are chosen on a nationally competitive basis, and 30 Fellowships will be awarded each year. A “New American” is an individual who (1) is a resident alien; i.e., holds a Green Card, or, (2) has been naturalized as a U.S. citizen, or (3) is the child of two parents who are both naturalized citizens. The applicant must either have a bachelors degree or be in his or her final year of undergraduate study. Those who have a bachelors degree may already be pursuing graduate study and may receive Fellowship support to continue that study. Individuals who are in the third, or subsequent, year of study in the same graduate program are not, however, eligible for this competition. Students who have received a masters degree in a program and are continuing for a doctoral degree in the same program are considered to have been in the same program from the time they began their work on their masters degree.
This graduate fellowship program is available for African American students preparing for a dissertation in biomedical sciences. The fields of study covered by the fellowships include the environmental and life sciences, medicine, physical sciences and engineering. Students must be enrolled in a full-time PhD or equivalent doctoral program, and must be within one to three years of completing their dissertation research. The fellowship awards grants up to $10,000 and stipends up to $42,000.
Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies: The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies encourages original and significant research about women that crosses disciplinary, regional or cultural boundaries. Seven fellowships are awarded each year in the amount of $3,000 for dissertation-related connections, such as books, travel, microfilming and computer services. These fellowships were designed to support the final year of dissertation writing for PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences whose work addresses topics of women and gender in interdisciplinary and original ways.
The Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship: This fellowship program provides funding to participants as they are prepared academically and professionally to enter the United States Department of State Foreign Service. Women and members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service are encouraged to apply. Eligible U.S. students studying in fields such as public policy, international affairs, public administration, business, economics, political science, sociology or foreign language can be awarded the fellowship based on academic merit and financial need. The fellowship covers tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees for the first and second years of graduate study, as well as book and travel reimbursement. In exchange for the fellowship, after completion of a degree, students are required to spend at least three years in service as a Foreign Service Officers.
The list of graduate portable fellowships above is by no means exhaustive. Students should actively seek out fellowship opportunities as soon as they decide to pursue an advanced degree. Due to the U.S. government’s desire for a more diverse, educated and skilled workforce, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, more and more portable graduate fellowships are established as time passes.
Graduate portable fellowships require students to take on a significant level of responsibility in addition to that which is expected of them by their chosen program. Some fellowships require students to repay the stipend over time, often through the completion of a mandatory term of service in the industry, so students are strongly encouraged to make themselves aware of all requirements, deadlines and stipulations. A portable graduate fellowship can end up being a beneficial, win-win situation for the student, the fellowship provider and the university alike.
Below is a list of institutional fellowships that students can choose from. Keep in mind that graduate fellowships funded by an institution of higher education will require you to complete your research at that institution.
Harvard Medical School
The Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy: The Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy is designed to prepare physicians, particularly minority physicians, for leadership roles in formulating and implementing public health policy and practice on a national, state and/or local level. The fellowship includes a one-year, one-time $50,000 stipend, full tuition for a masters degree, health insurance, books, travel and related program expenses, including financial assistance for a practicum project. It is expected that the fellowship will support the development of a cadre of leaders in minority health; well-trained academically and professionally in public health, health policy, health management and clinical medicine, and committed to pursuing careers in public service.
Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York
National Urban Fellows Urban/Rural Graduate Fellowships Leading to a Master of Public Administration (MPA): National Urban Fellows is a rigorous, full-time graduate program comprised of two semesters of academic course work and a nine-month mentorship, leading to a master of public administration (MPA) degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York. During the mentorship, Fellows complete course work via distance learning. An MPA degree is awarded to Fellows upon completion of all academic and program requirements. Fellows receive a $25,000 stipend, health insurance, a book allowance, relocation and travel reimbursement, and full payment of tuition, in addition to their ongoing personal and professional development.
Graduate Fellowships for Masters Degree Candidates in Child Development: The Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development Sydney Fellowship is a need-based program available for students entering graduate study and pursuing the degree of master of arts (MA) or master of arts in teaching (MAT). The fellowship was designed to diversify the student population of the University, and underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Students must have gained acceptance into the Child Development Master’s program at Tufts, but joint degrees do not qualify. The fellowship is meant for students aspiring to careers in teaching, research, pediatrics, social policy and advocacy, to name a few.
University of California
University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program: The University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program was established to attract more outstanding women and minority PhD recipients to pursue work in an academic capacity at the University of California. The fellowship is open to U.S. citizens, and 15 to 20 fellowships are awarded each year. Fellowships for students in the humanities and social sciences can be awarded up to $55,000, while students studying mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences and engineering can be awarded up to $65,000. The fellowships are 12 months long and are renewable once.
University of New Mexico
University of New Mexico Graduate Fellowship in Advanced Electromagnetics: On an annual basis, the SUMMA Foundation awards a one-time Graduate Fellowship in Advanced Electromagnetics. The fellowships of about $15,000 are awarded to graduate students studying electromagnetics to pursue a PhD. Students may be current candidates for an MS degree or engaged in early PhD work. This is an international fellowship of primary interest to students in electrical engineering specializing in electromagnetics, but occasionally students in physics, mathematics (and geophysics) may be appropriate.
University of New Orleans
Ernest G. Chachere Doctoral Diversity Fellowships: The Graduate School at the University of New Orleans established the new Ernest G. Chachere Doctoral Diversity fellowship for minority students in the fields of science and engineering. The fellowship provides for expenses at the University of New Orleans, in the form of a $22,000 stipend per academic year for four consecutive years and a four-year membership in the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Program. Eligible persons include U.S. minority doctoral students entering a science or engineering program at the University of New Orleans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the “U.S. Minority” refers to: African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, American Indian and Alaska Native persons.
University of Vermont
USDA National Needs Graduate Fellowships for Multicultural Graduate Students in Conservation Fields: Full Fellowships for Masters Degrees for Multicultural Graduate Students in Conservation Fields are available through the Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. U.S. students eligible for the fellowships must be studying in the area of conservation, but not for longer than two semesters. The fellowships provide about $32,000 in tuition funding, two years of health insurance and a two-year stipend of $36,000, in addition to a two-year cost-of-education endowment of $2,500 to put toward a paid internship placement after graduation.
University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories
Blinks Summer Fellowships in Marine Research: The Blinks Fellowship Program brings together multicultural students with the biological resources and scientific faculty at University of Washington’s marine science research facility. Six to eight diverse college students are chosen to complete a summer research program in the marine sciences, which includes one-on-one research experiences with marine scientists. Graduate students in the program have the opportunity for more independence in their research. Ten to 12 courses are held annually, which enables about 100 students to participate each year. Financial support is provided to cover travel and living costs and a $750/month stipend is also awarded to each student.