What is a Graduate Research Fellowship?

A graduate research fellowship is a type of program offered by many colleges that let students work as fellows. Fellows are responsible for a number of different things. They may teach one or more classes every semester, serve as assistants for professors within their departments and work with others on research projects. Some fellowships will let you conduct your own research. Competition for these positions is quite fierce because those chosen receive both financial aid and research funding.

What Do Fellows Do?

What you do will depend heavily on both the program itself and the university. A typical graduate fellow will spend much of the semester doing independent research on a group or individual research project. Keep in mind that most colleges limit independent research projects to those enrolled in a doctoral program. If you’re in graduate school, you’ll usually work for a professor in your department. That professor will assign you work based on your skill level. This might mean passing out surveys to undergrads, putting numbers into a computer to run statistical tests or writing down information during experiments run in the lab.

Who Can Apply?

Fellowship programs are open to both incoming graduate students and current grade students. The deadline for applications is often a month before classes start. This gives professors time to read through those applications and weed out those students they think will not be an asset. Keep in mind that most programs are only open to those studying a specific aspect of the topic. Not all psychology grad students can work in a cognitive psychology research program. Professors will look for applicants who have specific experience within the subject matter studied.

How to Apply

According to Philip J. Guo, these programs provide you with money, practice and the freedom to work with a professor who can mentor you and help you gain more experience. The benefits associated with fellowships explain why so many students apply for these programs every year. You need to contact the college after receiving your acceptance letter and request a fellowship application. This application is sometimes available online on either the department’s website, the financial aid site or the employment section of the official website. You need to provide the school with information about any research experience you have, your major and your grades. The college may ask for your undergrad transcript or ask that you write an essay.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

While a graduate research fellowship can help you gain experience, most students apply because of the funding available. Fellows receive financial aid that covers the entire cost of their tuition and all associated fees. As you’ll spend so much time on those projects, you won’t have time to work away from the campus. That is why many colleges offer students a stipend that functions like a paycheck. You’ll receive money once a week, every two weeks or once a month. Students at the doctoral level may receive funding to cover their independent research too.

Receiving a fellowship lets you attend graduate school without worrying about how you’ll pay for school and without graduating with a lot of student loan debt. A graduate research fellowship will cover the total cost of your tuition and give you a stipend for the work that you do a new or existing research project.

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