Fellowships are prestigious competetive opportunities in which organizations may provide a stipend (salary) and/or tuition to outstanding students that they expect to advance specific outcomes. These awards include great benefits, such as access to facilities and professional networks, publishing, and travel opportunities. In all cases, this is an investment in a particular mission or passion of the funding organization. Please keep the funder objectives in mind as you support students in the application process. Additionally, the process of applying to fellowship programs is beneficial to the student as a means of professional development. Throughout the student's career, they will likely need to seek funding or justify the funding they already receive. Development of strong targetted application materials will benefit the student regardless of fellowship award selection. Most students benefit from and appreciate the application process itself.
Funders may choose to administer the awards in any number of ways:
- The Fellowship/Grant may be awarded directly to the student.
- The Fellowship/Grant may be awarded to the institute, often with the faculty advisor listed as the Primary Investigator. This award may be administered by the Office of Graduate Education (Business Manager) or the Research Administration and Finance Office. This will be determined by the terms of the award.
- In all cases, the stipend must meet the RPI minimum requirement (posted annually) and cover tuition, OR the student MUST submit a supplemental support request form (below) at the time of application to the fellowship program. If this form is not submitted at the time of application, the student may not be able to accept the award due to institutional budgetting constraints.
- If the student is awarded a fellowship that requires they are in 'good standing" and the student does not need to take credit bearing courses (i.e. they are doing research on location), we may provide an administrative status for the student. This will eliminate a tuition bill or need for a waiver.
- Students may not accept an appointment as a Teaching Assistant or a Research Assistant and a Fellowship at the same time. There are few exceptions to this.
In all cases, please make sure the Office of Graduate Education is aware of any fellowship application of a student. We would like to celebrate those that are awarded, but more importantly, we want to advocate for the student that may need to navigate various requirements with internal offices.
Please fill out this REFERRAL FORM for an outstanding student. We will reach out to the student and encourage them to consider fellowship opportunities. You may nominate annoymously or include your name. You may submit more than one student by clicking the link once for each student. Fellowship programs seek students that are academic achievers, innovators, and communicators. If you have students that are involved in leadership of groups, actively engage the general community or the scientific community, and actively publish or present their work on a regional or national level, we want to connect with those students.
Fellowship programs depend on your expertise to inform them about candidates they seek to meet specific outcomes. The information you provide is critical in their decision making process. Your goal is to directly connect the attributes and characteristics of your student to the mission of the funder/program. To effectively do this, we suggest the following:
- Learn about the goals and mission of the funder/program the student is applying to
- Speak with the student about what value this program has for their professional development and career
- In the letter, indicate how you know the student
- Include concrete examples of how the student has demonstrated specific characteristics and skills, including leadership, innovation, communication and other attributes sought by a particular program
- Avoid a retelling of the C.V.
- Avoid broad general statements, such as "He is in the top 5% of my students" and "She is well suited to change the world." These are postive statements, but provide little information for the funder.
- Avoid asking the student to write their own letter. Beyond the ethical issues, experienced selection committees are adept at spotting recommendations written by the candidate themselves and this harms the student's chances
For additional support:
RPI is committed to assisting students that seek external funding opportunities for their graduate education. The External Graduate Funding site includes:
- robust search engines of potential programs
- lists of programs of interest to specific groups of students, including dedicated lists for international students, post-doctoral candidates, and undergraduate students
- Recorded Information sessions
- Links to specific program supports, such as webinars for the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, and other programs
The advisor is available to join your class or group to discuss potential opportunities and strategies for constructing strong application packages. Individual consultations (via Webex) to assist with fellowship searches and to review application materials are highly recommended. Finally, administrative support for awards is much less complicated if the advisor is aware of a potential award at the time of application. Please send any questions to Betty at Madige@rpi.edu.