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FAQ

The advisers in the Office of Prestigious Fellowships are more than happy to meet with you to discuss all aspects of the fellowships that interest you, from the eligibility and application requirements to the details of the essays you have to write. If you want to apply for a fellowship, please get in touch with us to schedule an appointment.

In the meantime, here are a few general pointers to help you get started.

What is a prestigious fellowship?

A prestigious fellowship is a competitive external award offered by various foundations or groups (such as the United States Government, the Carnegie Endowment, and Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the British Government). The fellowships may offer a stipend to pay for research, graduate work, or foreign study, or they may be an unpaid internship or other professional opportunity. These fellowships are prestigious because recipients are usually chosen from a national pool of highly qualified applicants.

How do I know if I am qualified for a given fellowship?

You can find preliminary information on this website concerning the major fellowships available. Once you have discerned which fellowship matches your qualifications, you should then visit the official website of the fellowship. Most fellowships provide clear eligibility requirements on their websites. Our office can also provide guidance regarding the various eligibility requirements.

What is the application process like?

Each application is different, but there are some similarities. Almost all applications require personal statements, proposals, transcripts, and at least two recommendation letters. Visit the Office for Prestigious Fellowships for guidance regarding the requirements for each program. Please note that we usually begin the application process at least six months prior to the actual deadlines.

How do I write an effective personal statement?

Generally, a personal statement should accomplish two goals. First, it should show the reader why you are the perfect candidate for the specific fellowship to which you are applying. Second, it should provide some insight into your unique personality in a captivating way. Remember, grammar does count!

How do I write a proposal?

The proposal is the most important part of your application; in it you want to show clearly how your proposal fits neatly into the specific requirements for the given fellowship. Therefore, take great care to make sure that your thesis is simply yet cogently stated in a compelling manner. Very often fellowship committees want to know how you developed this project and how it will fit into your future academic or career plans. Remember to review the official website for each fellowship to ascertain the feasibility of your project. Most of these websites provide information about previous winners and their proposals. Have others done something similar to your project? Pay special attention to all the instructions, word/page limits, and formatting guidelines. Again, remember that grammar counts! After completing a first draft, please visit the Office of Prestigious Fellowships.

Who should I ask to write recommendation letters?

First, read over the fellowship’s directions for recommenders. Make sure that the people you ask are able to provide the required information. It is a good idea to give each recommender a copy of your proposal as well as your curriculum vitae. If the application is vague about recommenders, you can combine academic and character references. For example, if the scholarship requires three recommendations, usually two of them should be by academics, while the third could be by a supervisor, mentor, or advisor of a related internship or employment. The important thing is that each recommender strongly support the rest of your application, so that everything presents a cohesive picture of you and your proposal.

Should I ask my senator for a recommendation?

Only if your senator is thoroughly familiar both with you and also your project. A form letter holds no weight with fellowship committees. Make sure that each of your recommenders can provide substantive information demonstrating that you and your project are a perfect fit. Never waste a letter of recommendation by asking someone who is unwilling or unable to support your application strongly.

When should I ask my recommenders for letters?

Successful applicants ordinarily receive letters of recommendation at the conclusion of courses, internships, or jobs, while their qualities are still salient. If recommenders save their letters, it is fairly easy for them to revise and adapt these letters according to your unique qualifications for the specific requirements of each fellowship.

Some fellowships require both government and community service

Most volunteer work (e.g., tutoring, feeding the hungry, school government, volunteer work) falls under the heading Community/Public Service. Government Service refers specifically to those activities that are sponsored by local, state, or national government agencies (e.g., voter registration, campaign work, government internships).

What is the Campion or Matteo Ricci Summer Fellowship?

A Campion or Matteo Ricci Summer Fellowship may be offered to gifted students who achieve a high GPA and are eligible and interested in preparing themselves for candidacy for prestigious fellowships during their tenure at Fordham. This fellowship can be based on a research project and/or a competitive internship and must be sponsored by a faculty mentor and supervised over the course of the summer. The terms of the summer awards vary and are determined on a case-by-case basis, but can include a small stipend or free summer housing at Fordham, as needed.

What should I do to prepare myself for a prestigious fellowship?

Set your sights on fully developing all of your potential (academic, occupational, and personal). Ultimately, one can never guarantee receiving a highly competitive fellowship. Therefore, even if you should not obtain a given fellowship, you will still gain much in terms of your own personal development. Pursuing one of these fellowships is perhaps the best way to discern your real interests, passions, qualifications, and goals.

If I don’t win the first time, should I reapply?

Yes, as long as you still fulfill the eligibility requirements for a given fellowship. A second application often impresses a scholarship committee by underscoring your personal commitment to the scholarship’s mission and goals. Moreover, post-graduation applications may be stronger based on the applicants’ broader experience, mature reflection, and more critical self-assessment.