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Frequently Asked Questions


What are external scholarships and fellowships, exactly?

External scholarships and fellowships are prestigious and nationally competitive merit-based funding opportunities.

What do external fellowships provide?

Depends on the fellowship! They can provide funding for coursework, research, intensive language study, or teaching assistantships abroad. Some even provide funding for graduate school either domestically or overseas.

I don’t think I can afford to take a year off before starting graduate school. Do you really think the post-graduate overseas awards like Fulbright are for me?

Don’t think of these experiences as a year off; think of them as a year ON.  During this time you will build both your professional skill set and your CV, as well as gain global perspective. The unique nature and prestige of these experiences will make your applications for graduate school and jobs stand out from the rest. In other words, can you afford NOT to apply?

Why are the Campus Nomination Deadlines so much earlier than the national deadlines?

Many of these awards require a nomination from SBU, in which case there will be a competition at the campus level to determine the nominees who will go on to complete nationally. In this case, all application materials including recommendations are due by the Campus Nomination Deadline so the committee has the information they need to make an informed decision.

Who is the target audience for these awards and which one is for students in [insert major here]?

A different way to phrase this might be, “Which of these awards best fits my educational and professional goals?” External scholarship and fellowship programs recognize academic excellence in a variety of majors and most are aimed at juniors and graduating seniors.

Is my first or second year too early to start thinking about these opportunities?

Absolutely not! Here are some things you can be doing now to make yourself especially competitive:

  1. Be aware of application timelines and deadlines for programs that are of interest to you.
  2. Forge relationships with mentors who can provide guidance, and eventually, write a letters of recommendation on your behalf.
  3. Grades matter! Even if it is not stated directly, most fellowship programs are seeking students with a 3.7 or higher cumulative GPA.
  4. Rigorous coursework, commitment to your area of study, and a “master plan” for your future are key.
  5. Consider taking foreign language courses. For many overseas awards, at least elementary or intermediate level proficiency is desired.
  6. Seek out experiential learning opportunities like research, study abroad, internships, service learning, leadership development, etc.