Fellowship Resources

"Here at last, on the shores of the sea... comes the end of our Fellowship." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Graduate fellowships are competitive awards given to top students each year. They are usually given to students about to enter a graduate program (either graduating undergraduates or students that took time off) and students in their first two years of their graduate programs. There are many fellowships out there, each having a different focus and perks. Recipients of these awards receive higher stipends, lower teaching requirements, sometimes access to computational resources or technology funds, and more. Astrobites has compiled a large list of such fellowships available to astronomy students. Below I share a few thoughts and resources from my experienes applying to graduate fellowships. At the end of the day, these fellowships are high competitive, but even more so stochastic. One application could get great marks with one set of reviewers but not with a different set. Not getting one of these awards doesn't reflect on your potential as a researcher.

The NSF GRFP is one of the largest and most prestigious fellowships of its kind, providing three years of support, XSEDE computing resources, and opportunities for funding for research travel. Students may apply for this as they are applying to graduate programs (such as senior undergraduates) and once during their first or second year of their graduate program. There is a wealth of advice out there on preparing NSF GRFP applications and I can’t really do it justice. The best resource for me was Mallory Ladd’s site. She covers it all. Also useful is Alex Lang’s site. There’s a huge list of essays here that may be helpful -- I highly encourage reading winning (and losing!) essays in your field to see what did and did not work. I applied in October 2018 as a senior undergraduate and was awarded the fellowship in April. My application materials and reviewer feedback can be found below. You can also find a template directory with LaTeX files that comply with proposal formatting guidelines (as of October 2018) courtesy of Carl Fields. Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions!

The FORD differs from the NSF in the emphasis that is placed on your potential as a future educator. Much of the previous advice for the NSF GRFP applies here as well, though some extra thought should be given in choosing your letter writers to ensure that they can properly address the criteria relevant for the FORD. It’s fairly straightforward to adapt an NSF proposal into a FORD proposal, just make sure that you address all of the points that they outline. Also check out Carl Field’s page for his advice and essays! I applied in December 2018 and received an an honorable mention in March. My application materials and results are available below.