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Office of Graduate External Funding and Support

This section of the website is specifically geared towards graduate students who wish to seek and prepare fellowship applications for graduate school funding.

Graduate External Funding and Support, also referred as GEFS, is a virtual office that provides general information primarily pertaining to fellowships. You are encouraged to utilize this virtual office in addition to other resources such as Cos Pivot to search for resources to support your academic and research endeavors. GEFS website summarizes tools, fellowships and resources from other institutions that may be helpful to searches. 

As you are aware, these fellowships are very competitive and require a considerable amount of planning, willingness to write many drafts, and a commitment of many hours to complete. That being said, the process will be rigorous but doable, if you are committed. As an introduction to GEFS, the website has posted tips for completing applications, links to open databases for fellowship searches, and other resources that could be helpful in your quest to seek fellowships.

As you conduct your research, keep in mind there are typically three types of external fellowships that will correspond to your academic status: pre-dissertation, dissertation research, and dissertation completion. If planned properly you could be funded from the start to completion of your doctoral degree.

Take a moment to review the sidebar topics to the left to begin your graduate-level external funding search.  If you are viewing the GEFS website for the first time, it is strongly suggested to read and move through the sidebars as they appear to gain the best preparation for using this website. Good luck with your process.

Getting Started

Congratulations for moving forward with starting the fellowship search.  After reviewing several sources, there is a consensus to start the process early and to create a checklist of all the requirements and deadlines once you have selected a fellowship to pursue. 

  1. Start the search early, cannot be emphasized enough.  The process to review the hundreds of fellowships is time consuming, not to mention the actual preparation and the execution of the fellowship application.  For this reason, allowing a 12-month period is preferred.  Understandably, not everyone will have the luxury of the 12-month period, but keep in mind a shorter timeframe will increase the number of hours per day to work on your application.  Longer periods or more months will allow your tasks to be spread out and may require a few hours a week compared to several hours a day for the last minute timelines.  You decide, reviewers can tell which proposals that were started early and the ones that were started at the last minute.  Make the reviewer your friend and make them happy—start early. 
  2. Create a list of fellowships using the sources under the “Fellowship Databases” sidebar.  Use a spreadsheet to keep track of the ones that you have reviewed and save all the fellowships with potential that could be used immediately and for later when you advance to another academic stage. The sample spreadsheet instructions will explain how to categorize the fellowship for current and future use. 
  3. Review the instructions for the applications, carefully.  This step can make or break your proposal. Consider the number of hours invested to prepare the proposal for it to be denied at the initial review because you failed to follow instructions, omitted something, missed the deadline, made your font size too small, etc.  Think like a reviewer, you have to review 200 applications and you can only move 10 applications forward to be considered for funding.  1) Do you read all 200 applications or 2) skim all 200 to see which ones you can eliminate immediately (mostly due to student error or omission)?  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, most fellowships have a RFA or RFP (Request for Application or Request for Proposal).  The RFA contains everything you need to know about the application (areas the funder is interested in funding, font size, maximum number of characters, etc.).  While you are reading the RFA, write down some keywords the funder uses.  These keywords will be great to use when crafting your statements and proposal.  Think like a reviewer.  
  4. Develop a timeline to chart your pace and progress. 
  5. Make a checklist of all required items.  Skipping this step is not worth risking a denial based on an omitted item.  Steps 4 and 5 can be combined using the sample checklist.
  6. Create a draft. This step might be daunting or intimidating for some, but use the genetic questions in jump start your proposal to generate a draft and get the writing juices flowing.
  7. Update your CV or curriculum vitae.  This document is considered your “academic resume.”  A source for preparing your CV is provided under the sidebar “Other Resources.”  
  8. Think of a list of faculty to write your letters of recommendation and/or letters of support. Select faculty who are able to write letters with substance; a generic or basic letter for a renowned faculty member or person with clout will work against you.  If you have not done so, start the process of building a rapport with faculty.  There are more details under the sidebar “Networking: How to develop a rapport with faculty.”