Dr. Cynthia Verba, director of the Fellowships Office, meets regularly with students and provides guidance on the fellowships process and professional development. In an individual counseling session, you can learn how to identify fellowship opportunities, receive feedback on your fellowship proposal and advice on how to articulate the significance of your fellowship project, and determine how to obtain effective letters of recommendation and faculty advice. You can also learn how to define your goals, such as how to finish your dissertation in a timely fashion.
In addition, the Fellowships Office provides professional development support through workshops and counseling sessions, for example, on how to deliver papers at professional meetings or submit articles to journals or book manuscripts to publishers.
Working with Us on a Proposal
To prepare for a dissertation proposal advising session, consult Scholarly Pursuits: A Guide to Professional Development during the Graduate Years. For a summary of major tips on proposal writing, see in particular the section "Writing the Dissertation Fellowship Proposal." Scholarly Pursuits also contains samples of winning fellowship proposals and fellowship biographical essays, advice on making the most of the student-faculty advising relationship, and strategies for setting goals to ensure progress. The guide also includes an introductory guide to publishing and model curricula vitae, résumés, and cover letters, as well as resources for work-life balance.
After the advising session, draft and edit a proposal until the document becomes a highly professional statement of purpose, making additional appointments if you would like additional support or feedback. Throughout the process, you should consult your faculty advisors and seek advice from specialists in the field outside of Harvard, if appropriate, and attend workshops offered by the Fellowships Office.
Finding Fellowship Support
The Fellowships Office produces two databases to help identify fellowship opportunities granted by Harvard and by external agencies: The Graduate Guide to Predoctoral Fellowships and The Harvard Guide to Postdoctoral Fellowships. These databases are searchable by citizenship requirements, diversity, research abroad, deadline, stage of graduate study or stage of postgraduate career, and more. For a more comprehensive search for outside support, you can search Pivot (formerly Community of Science); read the FAS Research Guide to Pivot for instructions.
Plan ahead. Most fellowship deadlines occur almost a year before support is needed—with many, such as the Fulbright, due the fall of the previous year. So you should plan ahead, both in terms of identifying fellowship opportunities and in thinking about your fellowship proposals early in the application process. Treat your fellowship proposal as a projection, stating your goals in terms of what you will be ready to accomplish when the grant actually begins and emphasizing how and why your plans are promising and feasible.
Pay close attention to requirements, priorities, and deadlines. Once you have identified the best opportunities, read each description carefully, paying close attention to requirements, priorities, and deadlines, since every fellowship has its own application procedures and requirements. In general, graduate fellowship applications require a statement of purpose describing your proposed project, faculty letters of recommendation, and transcripts.
Many GSAS fellowship competitions require departmental nomination. Students must begin the process by applying to the department for their own nomination. Speak with your department administrator or director of graduate study to express your interest and determine the application process and deadline. Be aware that departments set their own internal deadline, and this is the deadline that students must follow.