National and International Fellowships at Brown

Getting Started

Learn more about the process of pursuing a fellowship and begin to explore your aspirations.

What is a Fellowship?

The word “fellowship” is generally interchangeable with the words “scholarship,” “award” or “grant.” Fellowships can range from funding for graduate degrees, year-long international independent research or public service projects, to summer-length community building activities – and everything in between.

Fellowships enable students to pursue unique opportunities, whether during their undergraduate education or long after it, by providing funding for further education, supporting intensive research, covering travel and accommodations, and/or helping forge community across distance. If you can dream it, a fellowship can help you achieve it. Additionally, the process of applying for a fellowship can help you discover new interests, clarify your goals, and prepare materials that can be used to apply for future opportunities like graduate study.

You should! There is a fellowship out there for everyone. Make sure to carefully review fellowship eligibility: some opportunities present broad criteria, while some opportunities are limited to class year, discipline/field of study, or other qualifications. 

The earlier the better. Eligibility for many national and international fellowships typically begins in the summer before your sophomore year. Starting early helps put opportunities on your radar. Additionally, many fellowship deadlines are a full year prior to the term of the award.

How to Begin

Any fellowship application begins with curiosity and self-reflection:

  • What are your academic interests? What are the questions that led you to pursue your concentration(s) at Brown?
  • What gives you energy? Brings you joy? What do you like to do each day? 
  • What are the issues today that matter most to you? 
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years? What questions do you hope to have answered by then?

From curiosity and self-reflection comes a motive: a core, driving reason that has led you to pursue your education. Carry that motive forward as you begin searching.

Navigating Fellowships at Brown

The What, Why & How


In this video, we'll cover what fellowships are, how and when to apply, available opportunities, and the support our office provides.

Core Components of Fellowship Applications

Most applications ask for a personal statement, project proposal or academic statement, a resume or CV, an official transcript, and letters of recommendation. We are available to work with you to draft these materials as well as provide guidance on obtaining transcripts and requesting letters of recommendation.

Key Pieces of Advice

  • Start early. It’s never too early to explore fellowships and scholarships.
  • Seek support. You’re not alone in pursuing this opportunity. Discuss your interests with academic advisors and professors, and connect with our team to learn more about the opportunity.
  • Don’t self-select out. You only stand a chance of receiving the opportunity if you apply for it.

Frequently Asked Questions

National and international fellowships are competitive. While degree of competitiveness varies, it is important to bring a realistic perspective to the application process: there are often many excellent candidates for an opportunity, and selection criteria are ultimately subject to the interpretation of selection committees. It’s best to think in terms of what the process of applying will yield for you in terms of your personal development. You have a very strong chance of learning more about yourself and your academic and/or professional goals by applying. And of course, you can only receive a fellowship if you apply for it!

You can apply for as many fellowships as you would like; there is no limit, and applying for multiple awards does not hurt your chances of receiving one. In fact, some fellowships offer similar opportunities, so it makes sense to apply for any and all fellowships that relate to your interests. However, it is important to recognize that applying to a fellowship is a time commitment: it takes time to craft an application that is both tailored to the unique identity of the fellowship and representative of you. Determine your goals, plan ahead, and apply accordingly.

We always advise starting first with your own writing before looking at examples. Once you have started the process of applying and have created drafts, contact us at to inquire about looking at an example from a past recipient.

The best practice is to reach out to us at to put you in contact with a past recipient. Alumni who have received fellowships often return to campus to share their experiences with prospective applicants. Check the Fellowships at Brown calendar for all fellowship-related events.

More time is always best, but always give your recommenders at least a month’s notice from the fellowship deadline. This will allow ample time for your recommender to compose their letter and submit it. 

Every fellowship has different requirements for recommenders, with some requiring academic references (professors, PIs) and others professional (supervisors, managers). The best rule to follow: ask someone you know who can best speak to your candidacy for the kind of opportunity you are pursuing. If you are pursuing a research-intensive fellowship, you will want to have recommenders who can speak to you as a researcher and who have observed you conducting the same kind of work.