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What are education fellowships and should you apply for one?

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
Read more about our editorial process.

Reviewed by Pamela M. Roggeman, EdD, Dean of the College of Education

At a glance

  • Education fellowships are awarded to high-achieving students to help fund their continued academic progress or research.
  • Fellows join a community of like-minded students or graduates who can help further their educational pursuits and have access to workshops and professional development opportunities. 
  • Learn more about undergrad and graduate education degrees and continuing teacher education courses at University of Phoenix by visiting phoenix.edu. 

This article was updated on 12/8/2023.

An education fellowship is a prestigious award that provides financial support, training and opportunities for professional development to promising students and recent graduates. Many organizations, including governmental bodies and online universities, offer a variety of fellowships. 

As a highly competitive process, pursuing a fellowship can be complex and require much time and effort. To help navigate this process, this article provides tips and strategies to help you pursue your educational dream and apply for a fellowship opportunity.

Get to the head of the classroom with an education degree.

Types of education fellowships

When applying for education fellowships, there is one common requirement regardless of your field of study or specialization: You typically need to have completed a bachelor’s degree to be considered. For an educational fellowship, you will need to have graduated with a bachelor’s in education.

Graduate 

Graduate educational fellowships are nationally recognized as a way to acknowledge and support outstanding graduate students who are working toward their postgraduate goals, such as a master’s degree in education.

There are a few things to consider when applying for graduate fellowships:

  • Acceptance into a graduate fellowship program is highly competitive, with only the top candidates selected. Therefore, you’ll need to prepare a robust application that highlights what makes you stand out as an exceptional candidate.
  • The expectations for graduate fellows are typically high. This is due to the competitive nature of these programs and the desire to produce high-quality research.
  • A fellowship is usually one or two years, with some offering extensions for ongoing projects.
  • Graduate fellowship grants are typically larger than what you would receive as a student, ranging from $500 and up. This depends upon the type of fellowship and the length and expectations of the program.

Overall, a graduate education fellowship is an excellent opportunity for students looking to pursue a higher degree to help them reach their educational goals or enhance their careers.

Postdoctoral

Postdoctoral education fellowships are for those who have recently completed their doctoral degree in education and are looking for guidance to continue their professional development.

Things to consider when applying for a postdoctoral fellowship include:

  • The competition for postdoctoral fellowships is very high. Typically, you will need an excellent academic record and demonstrate strong research skills.
  • Most postdoctoral fellowships have extremely high expectations. A postdoctoral fellow is expected to engage in full-time advanced research and training under the supervision and direction of a mentor.
  • These fellowships are usually one or two years and provide mentorship opportunities and the chance to conduct research or teaching.
  • The amount of funding offered in postdoctoral fellowships is typically higher than what you would receive as a graduate student. This may range from $30,000 to $70,000 per year, depending on the type of fellowship and program.

If you’re looking to take your career to the next level, applying for a postdoctoral fellowship can be an excellent way to gain the guidance and support necessary to help you reach your goals.

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The benefits of an education fellowship

There are many benefits to pursuing or finishing an education fellowship:

  • It helps further your degree and develop training and experience to succeed in your field.
  • You can achieve your professional goals through valuable connections and networking opportunities with other leaders in your area of interest.
  • An education fellowship can help you pursue larger, intrinsic goals related to reforming policy or standard teaching practices.
  • Many fellowships offer a generous stipend and/or benefits package, which can help offset the cost of pursuing your degree.

If you’re looking to make a positive impact on the world of education, you may want to put pursuing an education fellowship at the top of your list.

Tips when applying for a fellowship

Here are a few key things to keep in mind when applying for an education fellowship:

1. Do your research

Doing your research is essential. There are many types of fellowships out there, so it’s important to find one that closely aligns with your priorities, values and goals. One way to narrow down your options is to think about what you want to get out of the fellowship. Do you want to teach, conduct research or pursue a higher degree?

Once you’ve decided what you want to do, start looking for fellowships to support your goals. As you begin your research, consider how your goals, interests and skills align with what each fellowship offers.

Consider the following:

  • What the fellowship entails. Does it align with your goals?
  • What the selection process is like. What are the requirements and expectations? Do your skills align with what the fellowship is looking for?
  • The benefits and drawbacks of each fellowship. Will you gain valuable experience and mentorship in your field?

Doing your research ahead of time will prepare you and help increase your chances of success.

2. Start early

Applying for an education fellowship takes time, effort and discipline. The earlier you start your application, the better. This gives you more time to research and find a fellowship that’s right for you and gives you ample time to put together a strong application.

In general, grants, awards, scholarships and fellowships have varying submission dates, and you’ll have to keep an eye on deadlines. Start early and have your applications ready to go before the deadlines.

A typical application process may look like this:

  • Research and identify fellowships to apply for (1-2 months)
  • Gather materials and write essays (1-2 months)
  • Submit application (3-4 weeks)
  • Receive decision (3-4 weeks)

The process of applying for education fellowships can take several months and attempts. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare strong applications and be persistent.

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3. Understand your unique value 

One of the most important things to remember when applying is that you’re not alone. Many people apply for education fellowships each year, and, unfortunately, not everyone is selected. That’s why it’s important to understand your unique value and use it to your advantage when applying.

Sometimes these highly competitive spaces can breed feelings of impostor syndrome and make you question your abilities. Understanding and highlighting your unique value can go a long way toward helping you feel confident and prepared as you apply.

Here are some tips to help understand your unique value and highlight it in your applications, which may, in turn, increase your chances of being selected for a fellowship:

  • Do some self-reflection about what makes you different from other applicants. What are your unique skills, experiences and perspectives?
  • Think about what you can bring to the fellowship that would make you an asset.
  • Partner with a mentor or advisor who can help you identify your unique value and guide you through the application process.

4. Seek feedback from peers and mentors

Your application will be one of many competing with others. This makes it all the more important to seek feedback from those who can provide objective and useful information on how you can strengthen your application.

Good people to ask for feedback include:

  • Professors or other academic advisors
  • Former fellows
  • Peer mentors
  • Academic journal editors or other professionals in your field

Feedback from knowledgeable and experienced people can help you identify areas of your application that need improvement. This can range from minor tweaks to major overhauls, and your mentors can help guide the changes you make.

5. Attend fellowship workshops

It can be helpful to attend fellowship workshops. Typically organized by fellowship organizations or university career centers, the workshops provide guidance on how to write an effective application. They often feature panels of former fellows and other professionals sharing experiences and offering tips on making your application stand out.

Fellowship workshops are usually free or have a nominal fee, and they can be a wise investment of your time as you prepare your application.

Overall, pursuing a fellowship provides valuable insight into what it’s like to work in your chosen career field. Whether you’re hoping to broaden your professional network or explore a new area of interest, these educational opportunities give you the chance to get hands-on experience and make valuable connections that can help enhance your career.

Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Feder is a Content Marketing Specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT and everything in between. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program, and a New Jersey native!

 

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