Understanding Fellowships and Scholarships

The terms "fellowship" and "scholarship" have had a variety of meanings over time, but these days they are most typically used interchangeably. In most instances, we use the term "fellowship" at the University of Richmond to represent all of these opportunities simply because it is easier to choose and use one term than to communicate effectively using both.

Most commonly, fellowships provide financial support for post-graduate study in the United States and abroad. Some fellowships also provide support for undergraduate study, and there are some that help support those with financial need who wish to study abroad.

Some fellowships are very specific about the areas of study they support while others are more open. Most are highly competitive, with maybe a few students chosen from thousands of applicants. Some require that applicants be nominated or endorsed by their institution, meaning applicants will only be considered if they have letters of nomination/endorsement from University officials like the Dean of Arts & Sciences or the Provost.

Most fellowship applications require considerable time and effort — a successful application can't be completed in several weeks, but rather they require months or even more than a year to create.

The most effective preparation for fellowship applications begins early in a student's academic career. First- or second-year students who think they might consider graduate study and who might want to win the support of a fellowship would be well advised to contact the Office of Scholars and Fellowships during their first two years. Choosing courses, co-curricular experiences, and research opportunities with a specific fellowship in mind can be helpful in preparing a successful application.