There is no easy way to win a fellowship, but thoughtful preparation can make the process less daunting and your chances of success more likely. Princeton has organized a network of fellowship advisers to help you with the application process. You should be encouraged by the fact that Princeton students have consistently won a generous share of these fellowships.
As you begin thinking about fellowships, consider the following:
- If you are considering graduate study, think seriously about where you would like to study and why. Discuss possibilities with faculty members, both those who know you well and those who are familiar with areas of study, universities, and countries of interest to you. Identify opportunities specifically suited to you and your goals. Plan to begin the application process six to nine months prior to the deadline.
- Inform yourself about the qualifications necessary for each fellowship. Attend a spring semester information session.
- Carefully plan the proposal, essay, or prospectus that you will be required to submit as part of the application process. Develop preliminary drafts as soon as possible and have them ready for review by mid-July. For a few of the fellowships, Princeton University requires that you present a draft of your statement before beginning the application process. Use this time to have faculty, friends, and advisers help you.
- Consider who can write the strongest possible recommendations for you; then talk with those individuals about your future plans and goals. Remember that some faculty members may be on leave in the fall term and perhaps unavailable to write a letter of recommendation. It is much more important to have a letter of recommendation from a faculty member who knows you well than from a dean or prominent professor who is only acquainted with you. You should begin thinking about prospective letters of recommendation early. Applications will require between two and eight letters of recommendation, which are critical in the selection process.
- Most fellowship applications must be accompanied by transcripts and photographs. If several transcripts are required, it is usually permissible to submit one original and photocopies. You can order transcripts online at registrar.princeton.edu/student-services/transcript. In addition, several fellowships require that a physician sign a certificate of good health. The physicians at McCosh Health Center will perform this service, but you should not wait until the last minute to schedule an appointment.
- There will be information sessions about fellowships during the academic year. Look for e-mail announcements. Also, expect e-mail reminders about fellowship deadlines.
- You must submit scores for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) when you apply for many of the listed fellowships, including the Churchill, NDSEG, Ford, and National Science Foundation Fellowships. Please note that some fellowships, including the Gates, Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, and Fulbright do not require the GRE. The GRE General Test is given year-round. You can register online at www.ets.org/gre/grereg. Be sure to check the Score Report Mailing Date when selecting a test date. The subject tests are given in the paper-based format only on specified dates in October, November, and April.
- Be sure that the academic department and degree you wish to pursue exist at the institution(s) you are considering. Often a proposal is strengthened by your knowledge of the school’s programs. Refer to the Reference Material Available in Firestone Library for an overview of tools for identifying specific programs to meet your needs. Catalogs of several British universities—including Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, University College London, and the London School of Economics and Political Science—are kept in the Reference Room in Firestone. In addition, the College Catalog Collection on microfiche, located in the Microforms Service on the C Floor of Firestone, contains the announcements and course descriptions for most U.S. and foreign universities. Many institutions now have detailed home pages on the Web. Use this address for British universities: www.marshallscholarship.org/studyuk.
- Remember that no individual can be intimately familiar with all degree programs in even one university, such as Oxford, much less in all of England or Europe. While the fellowship advisers listed in this guide are very willing to help you with a choice of degree program or choice of university within their spheres of knowledge, you must take the initiative to seek out information. You must be willing to talk with faculty in your own department, to seek out knowledgeable people elsewhere, and to read the collection of catalogs carefully.
- This collection of fellowship opportunities is only a fraction of those available to students interested in graduate study. The Office of Career Services maintains a collection of books and binders in their library: "Cash for Graduate School: The Ultimate Guide to Grad School Scholarships"; "Financial Aid for Research Abroad"; "Financial Aid for Study Abroad"; "Free Money for Graduate School"; "Funding & Fellowships"; "The Graduate School Funding Handbook"; and "The Harvard College Guide to Grants." In addition, the Office of Career Services maintains two links for finding 1-2 year options and fellowships. For current undergraduate and graduate students, use www.princeton.edu/career/undergrads/jobs/one-year; and alumni can go to www.princeton.edu/career/alumni/job_search/one-year.
- A number of scholarships and grants included on this website and listed in the directories mentioned above specifically target members of ethnic minorities and sometimes women. In some cases, the scholarship program restricts the applicant pool to specific groups (e.g., Ford Foundation Fellowships); in other cases, the scholarships make a point of encouraging minority candidates, but do not restrict the applicant pool (e.g., National Science Foundation). Fellowships are available for study in a wide range of academic and professional fields. Some are administered by the graduate institutions themselves; others may be supported by specific organizations, such as the local chapter of the NAACP.
- If you are a non-U.S. citizen, there are opportunities for you, too! Some fellowships listed on this website are open to ALL graduating Princeton seniors. Be certain to check out the Dale, Labouisse, ReachOut56-81, and Sachs. All citizens of all countries, except the U.K., can apply to the Gates. Canadians should also look into the Trudeau (www.trudeaufoundation.ca). In addition, the National Association of Fellowships Advisors’ (NAFA) website is a useful resource for funding opportunities open to non-U.S. citizens. The external sites related to prestigious scholarships and awards that may be helpful to you is located on the NAFA website at www.nafadvisors.org/resources.htm.
- Those students pursuing fellowships that are more project-oriented or self-directed should contact relevant organizations and talk to professors to assure that your plans are viable.