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Fellowship FAQ

Fellowships provide economic support for students whose intellectual development and plans include study at a particular school or program (the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, for example) or in a particular country (e.g. the Mitchell in Ireland) or in a particular field or discipline (the Goldwater for mathematics, science, or engineering). Fellowships are sponsored by trusts (Rhodes), foundations (Gates-Cambridge), or government organizations (NESP Boren). Each fellowship has a unique set of criteria for application (the Davies-Jackson, for example, requires applicants to be the first in the family to attend college or university). Some fellowships require University nomination (e.g. Goldwater, Udall). Many fellowships also have specific expectations about post-fellowship work or study (the Madison, for instance, expects recipients to pursue a teaching career in History at the secondary school level). Fellowships seek the best-trained and most highly motivated candidates in the hope that furthering the intellectual development of such candidates will contributs substanitially to the common good. 

A number of major fellowships require candidates to obtain nomination from their universities. Such nomination can take the form of a letter from a university official (usually the President) or it may, as is the case with Fulbright fellowships, require an interview with the Santa Clara University Fellowships Committee. All nominated fellowships are handled through the Office of Student Fellowships and have an internal deadline, usually a month earlier than the official fellowship deadline. Fellowships requiring university nomination nearly always list the Santa Clara campus representative on their web sites.

Each fellowship has a unique set of criteria, usually fully articulated in the fellowship materials or on the fellowship web page (for a list of these, see the Fellowships link). Most fellowships require U.S. citizenship and high academic achievement (typically above a 3.5, some even as high as 3.8). You should also be able to demonstrate a commitment to volunteer service linked in some way to your intellectual interests, ideally in a leadership capacity. You should be an engaged and mindful citizen, aware of current events and issues both in the U.S. and, should it be the case, in the host country. 

Almost all fellowships have fully developed web sites which you can find using the Fellowship Opportunities link on this page.  Most scholarships and fellowships have very detailed and helpful websites (the Fulbright and Udall websites are good examples). If you are interested in a particular fellowship, or if you would like to learn about what types of fellowships might suit you, consider taking ASCI 101: Fellowships and Grad Preparation.


ASCI 101 is a 2-unit workshop course that prepares motivated, high-achieving students to pursue their life-goals and achieve their potential by extending their intellectual development beyond their Santa Clara education. The course focuses on constructing effective fellowship and scholarship applications and on gaining admission to graduate school. Students work through every step of the process, reflecting on and refining your goals, researching appropriate fellowships and graduate schools, crafting strong curriculum vitae (résumés), writing compelling research proposals and personal statements, interviewing well and assembling helpful letters of reference.  This course is most appropriate for sophomore level students, but students at any point in their college careers can benefit. Taught every Winter quarter (typically Wednesday evenings from 5:40-7:20 pm).

Please also view our Fellowship Workshop PowerPoint for general information and tips.

The Office of Student Fellowships supports undergraduate students in all aspects of application for the major nominated fellowships listed on the the Fellowship Opportunities link. The Office also supports alumni and graduate students with advice and guidance on a time available basis.

The earlier in your academic career the better. Many fellowships require evidence of the potential for independent study and research. Santa Clara University also offers a number of internal grants for students to engage in independent research over the summer. UHP students are also eligible for additional UHP special scholarships and fellowships that can be used to support summer research. For most fellowships, you should be thinking about the application in the spring of the junior year (others, like the Goldwater, Udall, and Truman offer undergraduate awards so that you should be thinking of them in sophomore year). Most fellowships require very strong letters of recommendation from faculty, so it is important that you identify and seek out early in your undergraduate career those faculty members who are working in the filed which you intend to pursue or in related fileds. Almost all faculty members at Santa Clara University are engaged in research; many of them actively seek research assistants. They are also very willing to mentor and encourage student research.