Graduate Fellowships

"In the context of graduate school in the United States and Canada, a fellow is a recipient of a fellowship. Examples are the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Presidential Management Fellowship."

Below is a list of portable graduate fellowship programs that will not only help you afford graduate school, but will also enable you to gain perspective on your chosen field outside of what the confines of your university has to offer (Remember, however, that most graduate students are NOT funded on fellowships but on Teaching or Research Assistantships). Graduate fellowships may be university-awarded, federally funded or may be fellowships offered by independent organizations, and many graduate fellowship programs are targeted to a specific student group or field of study. Portable fellowships are often referred to as “external” fellowships, and can award funding based on academic need, academic record or merit. The amount of the stipend granted varies depending upon a number of factors, including length of fellowship and fellowship provider.

One of the challenges of a graduate education is obtaining the funding needed to pay for tuition, fees and living expenses. Fortunately, there are government agencies, institutions of higher education and other organizations that recognize the value of a graduate education, and these parties know it is in their best interest to help students afford to pursue a masters or doctorate degree. Through portable graduate fellowships, these organizations make it possible for many students to fund their graduate studies with a great deal of independence, while institutional fellowships are given by a specific university where the student is expected to conduct his or her research or earn their degree.

Portable graduate fellowships, unlike institutional fellowships, can be applied to the institution of higher education of the student’s choice. While many fellowships require students to study at an approved school, a portable fellowship affords the student much more freedom than an institutional fellowship from a particular university. Portable graduate fellowships allow students to be more discerning when selecting a program, as they are empowered with both the funds and the choices necessary to enroll in the program that aligns best with their research interests and goals.

Federally Funded Portable Fellowships

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ferguson Fellowship Program

The Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Disease Fellowship Program provides educational and experiential opportunities for racial and ethnic minority medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary and public health graduate students in a broad array of public health activities. Ferguson Fellows are engaged for eight weeks in a rigorous program of public health research and/or intervention, which they summarize in a scientific presentation at the end of the session. Ferguson Fellows’ travel and housing expenses are paid, and they receive a stipend for the summer.

U.S. Department of Energy Computational Sciences Graduate Fellowships

The U.S. Department of Energy provides funding for students in their first or second year of graduate study in the fields of physical, engineering, computers, mathematics and life sciences. The fellowships are renewable up to four years. Students receive about $31,000 a year, as well as a $1,000 annual academic allowance for travel, research activities and attending conferences. Some students may also get matched funds for computer support up to $2,475.

U.S. Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

U.S. citizens or nationals pursuing a doctorate in a field that benefits national security are eligible for this three-year fellowship from the Department of Defense. Fields of study include: aeronautics/astronomy; bioscience; chemical engineering; chemistry; civil engineering; computational, neural and behavioral sciences; electric engineering; physics; geo-sciences; mathematical science and engineering; mechanical engineering; naval architecture; ocean engineering; and oceanography. Stipends are given for 12-month periods. Students can receive $30,500 in the first year, $31,000 in the second year and $31,500 in the third year. The fellowship also pays for minimum health insurance coverage through the students institution, up to $1,000 a year.

U.S. Department of Education Jacob K. Javits Fellowships

This fellowship program is intended for U.S. undergraduate students entering graduate school or graduate students in their first year of graduate school. To be eligible, students must be pursuing the highest possible graduate degree in the fields of the arts, humanities or social sciences. For up to 48 months, the fellowship will cover the tuition and fees, as well as provide a need-based stipend. Of the fellowships granted, 60 percent are bestowed upon humanities students, while the remaining 40 percent is split equally between students of the arts and social sciences.

Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Graduate Fellowships">U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Graduate Fellowships

The Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship Program increases the number of graduate degrees awarded to underrepresented persons (women, minorities and/or persons with disabilities) participating in the STEM workforce, thereby eliminating the shortage of skilled workers. Approximately 20 students are selected annually to receive financial support for their graduate education. Fellowship tenure is a maximum of 36 months for individuals pursuing a doctorate and/or masters degree in NASA-related fields, for example; aeronautics/aerospace, biology, physics, chemistry, etc. The fellowship provides up to three years of support that includes a stipend and tuition offset. Annual stipends for students pursuing master’s degrees start at $16,000. Annual stipends for students pursuing doctoral degrees start at $22,000. Regardless of the degree pursued, annual tuition offsets start at $8,500.

Predoctoral Graduate Fellowship Awards for Minority Students">U.S. National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Graduate Fellowship Awards for Minority Students

This program encourages students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to seek graduate degrees in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to help increase the number of well-trained scientists from underrepresented groups. The fellowship provides up to five years of support for research training leading to the PhD or equivalent research degree, the combined MD/PhD degree or other combined degrees in the biomedical or behavioral sciences.

U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

The Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences offer Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships and related supporting activities in an effort to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in selected areas of science in the United States. These fellowships support training and research in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in a host institution only in the areas of biology and social, behavioral and economic sciences within the purview of NSF. Supporting activities include travel grants to graduate students to visit prospective sponsors and starter research grants for Fellows.

Portable Fellowships from Independent Organizations

American Association of University Women

  • Dissertation Fellowships: To qualify, applicants must have completed all course work, passed all required preliminary examinations and received approval for their research proposals or plan by a certain date. Open to applicants in all fields of study, except engineering.
  • Selected Professions Fellowships : Awarded to women who intend to pursue a full-time course of study at accredited institutions during the fellowship year in one of the designated degree programs where women's participation traditionally has been low.

American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program (MFP)

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS) Fellowship
Funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this fellowship program is directed at students in clinical, counseling and school psychology, or other psychology doctoral students whose training prepares them to provide counseling, therapy, testing, assessments, etc. The fellowships include stipends and funding assistance for living expenses, and they can be renewed annually for a maximum of three years.

Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Graduate Fellowships for Talented Minorities

The 13 Consortium schools have offered more than 300 fellowships annually, covering tuition and mandatory fees for two years of full-time study. Applicants who are admitted through the Consortium process and become Consortium members are considered for these prestigious fellowships. Individual schools may also award other merit based scholarships and financial aid.

These awards will be made to individuals committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, who show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and who are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

  • Predoctoral Fellowships The program has previously awarded approximately 60 predoctoral fellowships each year. The predoctoral fellowships provide three years of support for individuals engaged in graduate study leading to a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of science (ScD) degree. Predoctoral fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Research Council (NRC) on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The annual stipend of $20,000 and $2,000 institution award can be renewed annually for up to three years.
  • Dissertation Fellowships The program has previously awarded approximately 35 dissertation fellowships a year. The dissertation fellowships provide one year of support for individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of science (ScD) degree. Dissertation fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Research Council (NRC) on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The one-year stipend of $21,000 is offered in addition to conference expenses.

Greenlining Institute Academy Fellowship Program

The Academy Fellowship Program is an annual leadership training program for multi-ethnic students who have at minimum completed their undergraduate studies and want experience working on low-income and minority economic development. Through the Main Project Assignment, fellows work independently and develop expertise in a specific program area (banking, health, telecommunications or sustainable development) under the direction of Greenlining staff.


This merit-based fellowship covers the cost-of-attendance and includes a personal-support stipend for U.S. citizens pursuing a PhD in fields related to applied physical and engineering sciences. The fellowship is renewable annually for up to five years. Fellows with dependent children receive an additional stipend.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowships in Biological Sciences

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute will award at least 80 five-year fellowships for full-time study toward a PhD or ScD degree in the biological sciences. The fellowships are intended for students who have completed less than one year of graduate study toward an MS, PhD or ScD degree in the biological sciences. Students who hold or are pursuing medical or dental degrees (MD, DO, DVM, DS) may also be eligible to apply for fellowship support for study toward a PhD or ScD.

More than 20 graduate students are awarded this fellowship by technology giant Microsoft. The tuition and fees of eligible graduate students in the area of computer science will be covered by the company. Students also receive funding to cover some living expenses, as well as money to cover the cost of attending professional conferences. The fellowship award will cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for two academic years, and a stipend is provided to cover living expenses while in school. A conference and travel allowance is provided for recipients to attend professional conferences or seminars, and all recipients will be offered the opportunity to complete salaried internships with either Microsoft Research or Microsoft Live Labs in Redmond, Washington. Fellowships are awarded to recipients for two academic years only and are not available for renewal.

National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science

  • MS Engineering Fellowship Program The objective of this program is to promote the benefits of a masters degree within industry. GEM Fellows are provided practical engineering summer work experiences through an employer sponsor and a portable academic year fellowship of tuition, fees and a stipend which may be used at any participating GEM Member University where the GEM Fellow is admitted.
  • PhD Engineering Fellowship Program The objective of this program is to offer doctoral fellowships to underrepresented minority students who have either completed or are currently enrolled in a masters engineering program. Fellowships may be used at any participating GEM Member University where the GEM Fellow is admitted.
  • PhD Science Fellowship Program The goal of this program is to increase the number of minority students who pursue doctoral degrees in the natural science disciplines—chemistry, physics, earth sciences, mathematics, biological sciences and computer science. Applicants to this program are accepted as early as their junior undergraduate year, as well as candidates currently enrolled in a masters of engineering program and working professionals. Fellowships offered through this program are portable and may be used at any participating GEM Member University where the GEM Fellow is admitted.

National Physical Science Consortium Graduate Fellowships in the Physical Sciences

NPSC offers a unique graduate fellowship in the physical sciences and related engineering fields. It is open to all U.S. citizens, but with emphasis on recruitment of applications from historically underrepresented minorities and women. An NPSC Fellowship covers the first two or three years of graduate school, depending on the employer who sponsors the fellowship, with the possibility of continuation for several more years providing all the conditions of the fellowship continue to be met. The maximum duration is six years, in which case the overall value (stipend, tuition, fees, summer salary for two summers) of an NPSC fellowship typically well exceeds $200,000.

Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

The Fellowships are grants for up to two years of graduate study in the United States. The recipients are chosen on a nationally competitive basis, and 30 Fellowships will be awarded each year. A “New American” is an individual who (1) is a resident alien; i.e., holds a Green Card, or, (2) has been naturalized as a U.S. citizen, or (3) is the child of two parents who are both naturalized citizens. The applicant must either have a bachelors degree or be in his or her final year of undergraduate study. Those who have a bachelors degree may already be pursuing graduate study and may receive Fellowship support to continue that study. Individuals who are in the third, or subsequent, year of study in the same graduate program are not, however, eligible for this competition. Students who have received a masters degree in a program and are continuing for a doctoral degree in the same program are considered to have been in the same program from the time they began their work on their masters degree.

United Negro College Fund and Merck Foundation Science Initiative Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowships

This graduate fellowship program is available for African American students preparing for a dissertation in biomedical sciences. The fields of study covered by the fellowships include the environmental and life sciences, medicine, physical sciences and engineering. Students must be enrolled in a full-time PhD or equivalent doctoral program, and must be within one to three years of completing their dissertation research. The fellowship awards grants up to $10,000 and stipends up to $42,000.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies
The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies encourages original and significant research about women that crosses disciplinary, regional or cultural boundaries. Seven fellowships are awarded each year in the amount of $3,000 for dissertation-related connections, such as books, travel, microfilming and computer services. These fellowships were designed to support the final year of dissertation writing for PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences whose work addresses topics of women and gender in interdisciplinary and original ways.

The Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship
This fellowship program provides funding to participants as they are prepared academically and professionally to enter the United States Department of State Foreign Service. Women and members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service are encouraged to apply. Eligible U.S. students studying in fields such as public policy, international affairs, public administration, business, economics, political science, sociology or foreign language can be awarded the fellowship based on academic merit and financial need. The fellowship covers tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees for the first and second years of graduate study, as well as book and travel reimbursement. In exchange for the fellowship, after completion of a degree, students are required to spend at least three years in service as a Foreign Service Officers.

The list of graduate portable fellowships above is by no means exhaustive. Students should actively seek out fellowship opportunities as soon as they decide to pursue an advanced degree. Due to the U.S. government’s desire for a more diverse, educated and skilled workforce, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, more and more portable graduate fellowships are established as time passes.

Graduate portable fellowships require students to take on a significant level of responsibility in addition to that which is expected of them by their chosen program. Some fellowships require students to repay the stipend over time, often through the completion of a mandatory term of service in the industry, so students are strongly encouraged to make themselves aware of all requirements, deadlines and stipulations. A portable graduate fellowship can end up being a beneficial, win-win situation for the student, the fellowship provider and the university alike.

Below is a list of institutional fellowships that students can choose from. Keep in mind that graduate fellowships funded by an institution of higher education will require you to complete your research at that institution.

Some Examples of Institutional Fellowships

National Urban Fellows Urban/Rural Graduate Fellowships Leading to a Master of Public Administration (MPA) (at Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York)

National Urban Fellows is a rigorous, full-time graduate program comprised of two semesters of academic course work and a nine-month mentoring program, leading to a master of public administration (MPA) degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York. During the mentoring program, Fellows complete course work via distance learning. An MPA degree is awarded to Fellows upon completion of all academic and program requirements. Fellows receive a $25,000 stipend, health insurance, a book allowance, relocation and travel reimbursement, and full payment of tuition, in addition to their ongoing personal and professional development.

Tufts University

Graduate Fellowships for Masters Degree Candidates in Child Development
The Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development Sydney Fellowship is a need-based program available for students entering graduate study and pursuing the degree of master of arts (MA) or master of arts in teaching (MAT). The fellowship was designed to diversify the student population of the University, and underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Students must have gained acceptance into the Child Development Master’s program at Tufts, but joint degrees do not qualify. The fellowship is meant for students aspiring to careers in teaching, research, pediatrics, social policy and advocacy, to name a few.

University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

The University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program was established to attract more outstanding women and minority PhD recipients to pursue work in an academic capacity at the University of California. The fellowship is open to U.S. citizens, and 15 to 20 fellowships are awarded each year. Fellowships for students in the humanities and social sciences can be awarded up to $55,000, while students studying mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences and engineering can be awarded up to $65,000. The fellowships are 12 months long and are renewable once..

Graduate Fellowship in Advanced Electro Magnetics">University of New Mexico Graduate Fellowship in Advanced Electro Magnetics

On an annual basis, the SUMMA Foundation awards a one-time Graduate Fellowship in Advanced Electro Magnetics. The fellowships of about $15,000 are awarded to graduate students studying Electro Magnetics to pursue a PhD. Students may be current candidates for an MS degree or engaged in early PhD work. This is an international fellowship of primary interest to students in electrical engineering specializing in electro magnetics, but occasionally students in physics, mathematics (and geophysics) may be appropriate.

University of Vermont

USDA National Needs Graduate Fellowships for Multicultural Graduate Students in Conservation Fields
Full Fellowships for Masters Degrees for Multicultural Graduate Students in Conservation Fields are available through the Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. U.S. students eligible for the fellowships must be studying in the area of conservation, but not for longer than two semesters. The fellowships provide about $32,000 in tuition funding, two years of health insurance and a two-year stipend of $36,000, in addition to a two-year cost-of-education endowment of $2,500 to put toward a paid internship placement after graduation.

University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories

Blinks Summer Fellowships in Marine Research
The Blinks Fellowship Program brings together multicultural students with the biological resources and scientific faculty at University of Washington’s marine science research facility. Six to eight diverse college students are chosen to complete a summer research program in the marine sciences, which includes one-on-one research experiences with marine scientists. Graduate students in the program have the opportunity for more independence in their research. Ten to 12 courses are held annually, which enables about 100 students to participate each year. Financial support is provided to cover travel and living costs and a $750/month stipend is also awarded to each student.

More Graduate School Resources

  1. Applying to Graduate School
  2. Online Graduate Degrees
  3. Grad School Requirements
  4. Guide to Graduate School
  5. Grad School Admission
  6. Paying for Graduate School