Elements of a Fellowship Application

While the application requirements differ according to the type of fellowship or award, here are some of the possible documents that you will need to submit along with a bit of advice.


Personal Statement

Certain applications request a brief personal statement, which is, above all, an academic personal statement. This provides you with an opportunity to illustrate your motivation, goals, and dedication to your studies. It is important to consider how your personal statement enhances your overall proposal and how you fit the mission of the funding sponsor.

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Research/Project Proposal

Generally speaking, in your proposal you should explain your project idea, situate your work in the context of relevant scholarship, present your objectives, and describe your approach to this project. How does your work contribute to your field of study? Make sure to adhere to the page limits and other specifications! The ability to edit your argument to fit a specific length and audience will prove useful for academic presentations and interviews in the future.

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Your curriculum vitae is not just a long résumé. Your CV should always include information about your education, your research experiences, and your publications, but there are a number of other potential categories that you may choose to include depending on the fellowship.

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Letters of Recommendation

Your letters of recommendation are an important component of your application and should be taken seriously. Your letters should come from people who know you well and can speak to why you are a good fit for the award you are applying for.

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Sponsor/Host Approval

If you are traveling in the United States or abroad, you may have to submit proof of your pre-arrangements and affiliations you have already lined up. This could entail a letter of invitation or support from a sponsor or host. Check the guidelines closely for which types of organizations can serve as a host and how that affiliation should be communicated. Check out these tips on establishing a contact abroad.

Abstract and/or Dissertation Chapter

Some fellowships request evidence of the beginning of your work or a brief abstract of your idea. Write your abstract so that it will be understood by non-specialists. For a sample chapter, make sure to follow the page limits, even if this means only submitting a portion of a chapter. Your sample chapter should be presented as a polished piece of work.


Follow the formatting directions and style listed in the application instructions. Depending on your area of study, you may need to develop separate sections for primary and secondary resources.

Timeline or Work Plan

If you are required to submit a timeline or work plan, set realistic goals for the different stages of your work. On a visual note, prepare a well-organized document using graphic organizers, columns, or an outline to facilitate comprehension. Certain fellowships and awards require recipients to complete their projects by the end of the award period. If you are applying for this type of support, allow enough time for the revision process!


Consult with your adviser to ensure that you compile a sound budget. Be prepared to provide explanations for the budgeted items such as travel costs, maintenance allowance, research expenses, and university or affiliation fees. Neither overestimate nor underestimate your budget as this is a central way reviewers will determine the feasibility of your project. If your funding needs exceed the amount of the fellowship or award, explain your plans to secure funding for the remaining costs.

Proof of Language Proficiency

If you are proposing research abroad, you may be required to demonstrate your language proficiency in the host country. Verify the extent of this requirement to see if completing college courses meets the requirement or if you need an evaluation/approval form.

Certification of Academic Standing

Some fellowships may require proof of your academic standing in the form of transcripts or an approval form signed by your department, college, or school. Do not wait until the last minute to obtain this documentation.