What is a fellowship?

As a GSAS student, you may be required or encouraged to find outside funding for projects and research. Fellowships can provide support for your research, travel, language study, dissertation writing, and other necessities of an academic program. Some fellowships are designed to fund students over multiple years while others are short-term grants for specific time periods or projects. 

Plan Ahead

Deadlines for fellowship competitions are usually in the academic year before the fellowship period: for example, if you’re looking for funding for the fall or spring, you will apply for fellowships the previous fall. Make sure you’re familiar with your Notice of Financial Support and know how to contact your financial aid officer.

How do I find a fellowship?

The Fellowships & Writing Center provides guidance to students interested in applying for certain internal and external fellowship competitions. GSAS also maintains the CARAT database, which contains information about additional fellowship opportunities and should be your first stop.

Internal Competitions

GSAS hosts several internal fellowship competitions and collaborates with the Committee on General Scholarships on Harvard-wide competitions:

External Competitions

The Fellowships Office also administers several external competitions:

The CARAT Database

The CARAT database allows students to search for fellowship opportunities by keyword, citizenship requirement, length of opportunity, stage in graduate school, and more. Through CARAT, you can find links to application materials and instructions on how to apply. You also apply to many Harvard fellowships via CARAT, including those listed above.

External Databases

How do I apply for a fellowship?

Every fellowship has specific criteria and application instructions, but as a general rule, most competitions ask for:

  1. A fellowship proposal, explaining your research topic and what you plan to do if you are granted the fellowship
  2. Recommendation letters
  3. A budget of expenses you expect to incur, especially for travel competitions
  4. Transcripts
  5. A current CV, which includes a list of awards and fellowships you have won during your time as a graduate student, fellowships you are currently supported by, publications, and other relevant information

Plan your application well in advance by seeking out recommenders early, making sure you obtain official transcripts well ahead of deadlines, and drafting your proposal early to get as much feedback on it as possible.

How do I get more help?

Scholarly Pursuits

Scholarly Pursuits: A Guide to Professional Development during the Graduate Years is a free online publication by Dr. Cynthia Verba, former director of the Fellowships Office. It 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 book also includes an introductory guide to publishing and model curricula vitae, résumés, and cover letters, as well as resources for work-life balance.

For specific help on fellowship proposal writing, see the section "Writing the Dissertation Fellowship Proposal."

Individual Counseling Sessions

In an individual advising session, you will receive feedback on your fellowship proposal and advice on how to articulate the significance of your fellowship project. If you would like a critique of your fellowship essay, please complete the FWC intake form and one of our writing specialists will schedule an appointment with you. Make an appointment well in advance of your deadlines, as spots fill up quickly, especially during peak application season in the fall. If you have a question about fellowships, please sign up for an appointment with Dr. Jeannette Miller.

Proposal Workshops

Proposal-writing boot camps for GSAS students are held throughout the year. Departments can also schedule proposal-writing workshops designed for their students. Keep an eye on our newsletter and the GSAS events calendar and ask your department if they have any workshops scheduled.