Outside Fellowships

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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 6:42 pm

Outside Fellowships

Postby doom » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:15 am

At the risk of sounding like a "shateep340" or a "Montana Badlands U vs. St. Lucifer College" type of poster:

I didn't apply for any outside graduate fellowships this year, thinking that I didn't really need them, plus didn't need the added stress of another application. But now I'm thinking it might be a good idea to apply for some during my first year of grad school (since I'll have so much free time to kill :roll: ). But seriously, I think it will help me look more enticing to potential advisors (especially in HEP theory, where money is tight). Plus, many of them have higher stipends (much higher) than TA/RA stipends.

So I'm looking for any advice I can find about these fellowships. Yes, I'll do my own research on google, but since many of you have gone through this before, I thought I'd throw it out there.

What fellowships are available? (I've already found NSF and NDSEG) Specifically, which ones allow you to apply during your first year of grad school? How involved is the application (more or less than a grad school app)? Anything I should keep in mind for my application or anything I can do in the next year to help my chances?

Thanks for any advice that you can give.

Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:38 pm

Re: Outside Fellowships

Postby LucasWillis » Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:06 pm

Well, although most of that is google-able, I'll offer up what I know. I applied and was accepted for an NDSEG, as was a friend of mine last year.

First, I'd say that it is always a good idea to apply for outside fellowships for all of the reasons that you mentioned. It is absolutely true that many groups which are "full" will be more than willing to accept a fully funded student, and at the very least if there are two equally-matched applicants to a group and one of them is funded, that student with funding will look very good! With most fellowships you will make much more than typical RA/TA salaries, and in many cases you can supplement your fellowship with a TA and possibly come out of grad school with money saved (this is the route that I plan to take.)

As far as effort, I found the NSF application to be much more labor intensive than the NDSEG. I actually gave up on the NSF because I started it too late to finish it. They essentially want a research proposal and in many cases that would probably be easier to write in your first year at graduate school when you have a better idea of what you may want to do. That being said, the NDSEG involves a brief statement and a list of activities/accomplishments that can be readily finished in a day or so. In both cases you will need letters of recommendation, so hopefully you are memorable enough for your undergrad advisors and professors to write you letters after you graduate.

Both are very competitive, and in physics the NDSEG is only given out to about 20 people each year. I have few sample points (myself, a friend on this forum: nvanmeter, and the aforementioned friend from last year) but in all of those cases of NDSEG winners they worked on research projects that were funded by one of the NDSEG funding agencies (ONR, ARO, DARPA, etc.) before applying and received letters from advisors working on those projects.

As far as other fellowships available to first year grad students, ask around when you get to your graduate programs. From what I hear, most advisors will politely demand that you apply for one, as it is "free money."

I hope that helps, and good luck to you.

Posts: 171
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 6:42 pm

Re: Outside Fellowships

Postby doom » Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:46 pm

Thanks for digging this thread out of the dustbin to offer some advice.

I go to a small enough undergrad school that I shouldn't have trouble with letters of rec, but I don't know about my REU advisor, who's at a much bigger school.

However, I don't think I worked on a project that was funded by any of those agencies, so I hope that's not too much of a handicap. (Although I acknowledge that your evidence is anecdotal.)

Thanks again, and good luck to you too.

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