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.
Deadlines for fellowship competitions are usually in the academic year before the fellowship period: for example, if you’re looking for funding for fall 2021 or spring 2022, you will apply for fellowships in fall 2020. 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 Office 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. Other databases also provide assistance in finding support.
GSAS hosts several internal fellowship competitions and collaborates with the Committee on General Scholarships on Harvard-wide competitions:
- Graduate Society Summer Predissertation Fellowships
- GSAS Summer School Tuition Fellowships, for language study
- GSAS Merit and Term-Time Research Fellowships, a half-year award
- Kennedy, Knox, and Sheldon Traveling Fellowships, the Lurcy Traveling Fellowships, and the Samuelson Traveling Fellowships, through the Committee on General Scholarships
- GSAS Dissertation Completion Fellowships
The Fellowships Office also administers several external competitions:
- Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program (DDRA)
- Cultural Exchange Fulbright Fellowship from the Institute of International Education (IIE)
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.
How do I apply for a fellowship?
Every fellowship has specific criteria and application instructions, but as a general rule, most competitions ask for:
- A fellowship proposal, explaining your research topic and what you plan to do if you are granted the fellowship
- Recommendation letters
- A budget of expenses you expect to incur, especially for travel competitions
- A current CV
- A list of awards and fellowships you have won during your time as a graduate student, fellowships you are currently supported by, and publications
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: 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 counseling session, you will receive feedback on your fellowship proposal and advice on how to articulate the significance of your fellowship project. To set up an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Make an appointment well in advance of your deadlines, as spots fill up quickly, especially during peak application season in the fall.
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 the GSAS events calendar and ask your department if they have any workshops scheduled.
Professional Development Panels
“Surviving the Dissertation” and “Introduction to Publishing” are two popular panel discussions held each year. In addition, you can attend a Fulbright orientation with past winners in the fall semester. Please check the events calendar and feel free to reach out to us with questions.