Fellowship Program Facts

Fellowship Program Facts

Fellowships and scholarships are not the same.

At GS, a “scholarship” is a grant administered directly by the Office of Educational Financing to help meet the cost of attending Columbia University. A “fellowship,” by contrast, is an award administered by an outside organization—including various departments at Columbia itself. There is a wide range of fellowship programs. Some will pay you to continue your studies, while others will sponsor you to travel, take an internship, do research, or pursue an artistic ambition.


You don't necessarily need stellar grades.

Some of the best-known fellowship programs get so many applicants that they can afford to disqualify people on the basis of grades alone. But other competitions accept all types of students. If in doubt, it’s best to talk to the GS Fellowships Office to get a sense of whether you have the credentials to make a realistic bid for a given award.        


Citizenship is not always required.

Many of the fellowships in the GS database require American citizenship. Nevertheless, some award programs do invite permanent residents to apply, and a still smaller group welcomes international applicants regardless of residency. The competitions open to non-citizens are designated in our thematic directory with an asterisk.


Non-traditional undergraduates are generally welcome (but not always).

The majority of the fellowships in our database have no age cut-off. A handful of them insist that applicants be under a specific age, e.g., 30. Fortunately, some fellowship programs exist specifically to help older undergraduates: the Talbots Scholarship and the Women’s Forum Award.


Not clear about your future? There are fellowships for you.

Outstanding fellowships exist even for those who have yet to discover their passions. A number of fellowships will send you to teach (either overseas, where your English skills will be exercised, or here in the U.S., in underserved areas of the country). Other programs will pay you to learn a language or to work abroad. The GS Fellowships Office will help you brainstorm the possibilities.


You can use some fellowships to lower the cost of attending Columbia, if you're fortunate enough to secure one.

Certain fellowship programs offer direct subsidies to offset the cost of a Columbia education. These include: 

 Other fellowships may help to reduce the total cost of your college career. Those that entered GS with few transfer credits will have a plethora of options.)

For example:  

You are studying human rights and modern history at Columbia. For your future career as an international negotiator, you need to improve your Russian. You apply for a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace to study the language intensively at Middlebury College over the summer. With your academic dean’s approval, you can apply the 8 credits you earn at Middlebury—which come to you cost-free as part of the fellowship—towards your GS degree.

You are a religion major with a special interest in Buddhism. You apply for a Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Scholarship to study the development of Buddhism in Japan during your junior year at Taisho University. With your academic dean’s approval, you can apply a year’s worth of credits, which cost you nothing, towards your GS degree.

In both cases, the fellowship’s tuition-free credits reduce the overall cost of higher education.


Plan ahead.

It is never too soon in your college career to think about fellowships. Review our website for awards that interest you, and then make an appointment with the GS Fellowships Office for some long-range strategic planning.

Note:Two of the best-known fellowships for graduate study, the Beinecke and the Truman, accept applicants only from college juniors. Where these two awards are concerned, at least, you must get started long before the end of your college career is in sight.


The GS Fellowships Office wants you to succeed.

The GS Fellowships Office works collaboratively with the Fellowships Office of the Office of Global Programs to give you as much help with your applications as you wish to receive. If you are inclined to work independently, we honor that preference; if you prefer lots of guidance, we offer that as well.  

We can help you with:

  • the inner-directed task of identifying your enthusiasms, goals, and commitments;
  • the outer-directed task of putting yourself forward, clearly and convincingly, whether on paper or in the interview setting; and
  • the structural task of establishing deadlines, collecting references, and mapping out multiple paths to your destination.

All of this takes place in a supportive atmosphere. We make a point of listening with an open mind and of helping our students pursue just those fellowship opportunities that are right for them.


What kinds of awards do GS students win?

Our students have been very successful in winning fellowships. Over the past two years alone, GS students have claimed the Tillman, Gates-Cambridge, Gilman, FLAS, Women’s Forum, and Global Fellows in Sustainable Development awards.