Applying for External Fellowships

July 27, 2017

Posted: November 3, 2015, 9:00am

For the last three weeks, I’ve been working on an application for a graduate external fellowship from the National Science Foundation, a government organization dedicated to advancing the progress of science.  Through their graduate research fellowship program, they fund over 2,000 new doctoral students annually for a period of 3-years.  Although most PhD students are fully funded for the first two years of school and guaranteed resources through teaching assistant or research assistant fellowships for the rest of their program, we are still encouraged to seek outside funding.  Fellowships like the NSF GRFP not only give students freedom to explore the research without other teaching responsibilities, but they also add to one’s CV.

For this fellowship specifically, we had to write both a personal statement containing our past research experience and future goals, and a research proposal that details all aspects of our doctoral project.  In addition, three letters of recommendation are required for a complete application.  Hopefully, my five rounds of drafting pays off!  If not, I will get another chance to apply for the NSF GRFP next year.  Now it’s time to focus on other external fellowship applications like the ones detailed on USC’s Graduate School website.


Good luck to all of the PhD students applying this year!


Published on July 27th, 2017

Last updated on January 20th, 2021