Santa Clara University

Office of Fellowships

Fellowship FAQ

What is a fellowship?

Fellowships provide economic support for students whose intellectual development and plans include study at a particular school or program (the Rhodes at Oxford, for example) or in a particular country (the Mitchell in Ireland, for instance) or in a particular field or discipline (the Goldwater for mathematics, science, or engineering).  Fellowships are sponsored by trusts (Rhodes, for example), foundations (the Gates-Cambridge, for instance), or government organizations (the NESP Boren, for example).  Each fellowship has a unique set of criteria for application (the Jackson-Davies, for example, requires applicants to be the first in the family to attend college or university).  Some fellowships require University nomination.  Many fellowships also have specific expectations about post-fellowship work or study (the Madison, for instance, expects recipients to pursue a teaching career in History at the secondary school level).  Fellowships seek the best-trained and most highly motivated candidates in the hope that furthering the intellectual development of such candidates will contribute substantially to the common good. 

What is a Nominated Fellowship?

A number of major fellowships require candidates to obtain nomination from their universities.  Such nomination can take the form of a letter from a university official (usually the President) or it may, as is the case with Fulbright fellowships, require an interview with the Santa Clara University Fellowships Committee.  All nominated fellowships are handled through the Office of Student Fellowships and have an internal deadline, usually a month earlier than the official fellowship deadline.  Fellowships requiring university nomination nearly always list the Santa Clara campus representative on their web sites.

How do I know if I qualify for a fellowship?

Each fellowship has a unique set of criteria, usually fully articulated in the fellowship materials or on the fellowship web page (for a list of these, see the Fellowships link).  Most fellowships require U.S. citizenship and high academic achievement (certainly above a 3.75 except in very unusual circumstances).  You should also be able to demonstrate a commitment to volunteer service linked in some way to your intellectual interests, ideally in a leadership capacity.  You should be an engaged and mindful citizen, aware of current events and issues both in the U.S. and, should it be the case, in the host country. 

Where can I find information about fellowships?

Almost all fellowships have fully developed web sites which you can find using the Graduate Fellowship link on this page.  The Office of Student Fellowship (St. Joseph's Hall, room 210) also has information and brochures about most fellowships.  On the calendar pages on this web site, you can also find the dates and times of informational meetings for specific fellowships.  If you indicate an interest in fellowship information to the Office of Student Fellowships, you will be added to an email list alerting you to opportunities and meetings about specific fellowships.

Please also view our Fellowship Workshop PowerPoint for general information and tips.

Does the Office of Student Fellowships support all fellowships?

The Office of Student Fellowships supports undergraduate students in all aspects of application for the major nominated fellowships which are listed on the Graduate Fellowships link.  The Office also supports alumni and graduate students with advice and guidance on a time available basis.

When and how should I begin thinking about applying for fellowships?

The earlier in your academic career the better.  Many fellowships require evidence of the potential for independent study and research, and some students finish their senior thesis at the end of their junior year.  Santa Clara University also offers a number of Provost Junior Research Fellows grants for rising juniors to engage in independent research over the summer.  For most fellowships, you should be thinking about the application in the spring of the junior year (others, like the Goldwater and the Udall offer undergraduate awards so that you should be thinking of them in the freshman or sophomore year).   Most fellowships require very strong letters of recommendation from faculty, so it is important that you identify and seek out early in your undergraduate career those faculty members who are working in the field which you intend to pursue or in related fields.  Almost all faculty members at Santa Clara University are engaged in research; many of them actively seek research assistants.  They are also very willing to mentor and encourage student research.  

Printer-friendly format