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Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions

Fellowship FAQs

The Basics

What are (inter)national fellowships?

Fellowships are competitive, merit-based awards that are funded by national and international foundations. They provide funding for things like research, language learning, graduate study, and experiences teaching abroad. They are not Boise State financial aid awards; students from all over the country apply for them. Many of the awards require candidates to be nominated or endorsed by their university, and all require a rigorous application process.

What are the chances of winning a fellowship?

All fellowships are competitive, but the likelihood of winning varies. The toughest (like Marshall and Rhodes scholarships) only have a success rate of around 3%, but most of the others have a much higher chance of success. The competitiveness of Fulbright grants varies by country and grant type.

For several of the awards (such as the Goldwater, Truman, and Udall), Boise State can only nominate a limited number of candidates, meaning students must first compete at our institutional level prior to going forward into the national competition.

If the odds are so discouraging, why should I do this?

The process of applying for a fellowship can be life-changing, regardless of whether you win the award.

    • It can significantly improve your writing abilities by teaching you how to present your life story in a clear, concise, compelling narrative. This style of writing will be used in future graduate school applications and in cover letters for future jobs.
    • It can deepen your relationships with faculty, staff, and peers at Boise State. Past applicants have described incredible opportunities that stemmed from conversations they had with the professors that wrote their letters of recommendation or from the experiences they had while getting more involved on campus.
    • It forces you to consider who you are and how you want to better both the world and yourself. Applying for a fellowship can be a grueling process. You have to make both short-term and long-term plans as well as contingency plans in case your original ideas do not work out. It asks you what you care about. Though these questions aren’t always easy to answer, thinking them through can help you focus your life and goals more clearly.

Where could I go?

Past Boise State fellowship awardees have studied at Oxford; taught English in countries such as Norway, Tajikistan, and Serbia; and completed research in places like Swaziland and India. There are fellowships to all different parts of the world and the U.S.  View pictures and read stories from some of our past fellowship recipients to learn more.

At what point in my college career should I start thinking about fellowships?

It is never too early to begin thinking about applying for fellowships! Though many are intended for seniors or graduates, some awards are available to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Additionally, thinking about fellowships early allows you to naturally fill in gaps in your resume or strengthen any weaknesses prior to submitting applications as a senior/graduate.

Can I apply (and win) more than one type of award over the course of my degree?

Yes, you can apply for multiple fellowships throughout your time at Boise State. Often, the more awards you win, the more competitive you become for future awards.

Are fellowships only designed for graduating seniors?

No! Some fellowships like the Critical Language Scholarship, Boren Awards, Truman Scholarship, and Goldwater Scholarship are all designed for students who are at earlier points in their undergraduate career. See our Fellowship List for more details on these awards.

Can alumni apply?

Yes! Alumni can apply to some scholarships such as Fulbright, Marshall, or Rhodes and receive advising from Boise State. Consult the Fellowship List for more information on individual scholarship requirements.

Determining Competitiveness

How high does my GPA need to be?

Each fellowship has different expectations. Some require a minimum of a 3.7; others have no GPA requirement. Keep in mind that while academic performance is an important part of your application, it’s only one of many factors being considered. A student with a comparatively lower GPA who is highly involved with their community, has leadership experience, and can converse comfortably across a broad range of topics is likely a stronger candidate than a 4.0 student with little outside involvement beyond their coursework.

What are selection committees looking for?

Meeting the basic requirements for a fellowship is usually not enough to win one. Competitive students take advantage of academic, extracurricular, scholarly, and service activities, or even better, create their own.

Fellowship committees generally look for candidates with strong GPAs who:

    • Are well-rounded and informed. Show them that you do more than simply go to class and study
    • Are actively involved. This can be with your academic or general community
    • Have at least some experience in the type of work the fellowship funds
    • Have a demonstrated commitment to the betterment of society
    • Have a demonstrated potential for leadership. Leadership comes in many forms; you don’t have to be the president of a student club to be a leader
    • Have initiative and drive. Start something! A club, a volunteer group, a networking circle, your own project/research
    • Are interesting and interested. Don’t be afraid to be passionate
    • Bring out the best in themselves and others
    • Give of themselves

How do I know which fellowship is a good fit for me?

While all of these awards recognize excellent students, they differ in terms of eligibility requirements, application procedures, expectations, and overall mission. Ultimately, knowing whether or not a fellowship is a “good fit” comes down to how well you identify with the ideals and structure of the program. We can’t manufacture fit. You have to do both research as well as some soul-searching to answer this question.

Application Process

Ok! I'm interested! Where do I begin?

We request that students try to do some research before contacting the Fellowships Advising office. Begin by reviewing some of the fellowships available and fill out a Fellowships Intake Form. The form will allow you to indicate whether you have decided on a specific fellowship or are still trying to find a good fit. We will then contact you about making an individual appointment or attending a more specialized workshop.

What does the application process look like?

This process varies by fellowship, but generally students follow the following progression:

  1. Research fellowships to find a good fit. Seek advice from faculty, friends, and fellowship advisors.
  2. Draft application essays. Most people need to write at least 6-8 drafts to refine their ideas into a cohesive narrative. You will likely spend weeks or months on your application.
  3. Complete committee interviews. They are part of the drafting/refining process.
  4. Submit! Sometimes this will be followed with additional interviews by the funding organization.

For a more detailed version of this process, please visit the Fellowship Application Process page.

How much time should I expect to devote to this?

Expect to spend many hours on your application over the course of multiple months. Between talking to professors, advisors, writing drafts, rewriting drafts, collecting paperwork, being interviewed, and many other tasks, students can expect the process to feel like a part-time job.