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Types of Fellowships

Your academic status will determine what type of fellowship you should seek.

Typically there are three divisions of fellowships: pre-dissertation, dissertation research, and dissertation completion.

Fellowships are structured to allow a student to be fully funded from start to finish. 

Pre-dissertation fellowship usually covers funding for the first 3 years—enough time to complete coursework and prepare for candidacy. 

Dissertation research fellowships usually covers 3 years—typically enough time to obtain approval of your proposal, enter into candidacy, perform data collection, and write chapters 1-3/4. The dissertation completion fellowships are specifically for finishing the dissertation with a timeline of 12 months or one academic year. Students are ineligible to receive additional external or internal funding after the dissertation completion fellowship has expired. One should make sure they can complete the dissertation within one year prior to applying.

  • Pre-dissertation(research is more flexible)
    • Funders see you as having good potential to be a successful graduate student.
    • Funds the student and not the research, your research could change and is allowed if the research is within the scope of the funding agency’s interest. 
    • Apply as a college senior or as late as the 1st semester of your 2nd year of graduate school.


  • Dissertation research (more restrictive on research topic/idea)
    • More sources for this type of funding available.
    • Research dissertation stage more specialized and more specific based on the funding agency’s areas they wish to target. 
    • Student should have a clear research plan and understanding of their research.
    • Funders want to know:
      • Faculty are available to support your research.
      • Facilities available to conduct research.
      • Student has a well-developed plan to successfully complete the proposed research, etc.


  • Dissertation completion (for assistance to complete the dissertation)
    • Usually restricted to 12 months (or the next academic year) to finish the dissertation.
    • Typically awarded as a stipend to allow a student to focus on completing and defending their dissertation.
    • May stipulate that current institution is ineligible to provide funding after this award has been granted.