Completion Fellowships: Understanding your Options

Completion fellowships provide doctoral students a year of financial support to finish writing their dissertation. These fellowships not only provide financial support for those whose funding packages may have run out by the time they start working on their dissertation, they also stamp a mark of prestige on your research and your promise as a scholar. The following pointers will help you identify and apply for completion fellowships.

Timing is a critical element of this process. You should plan to apply one year in advance of the time that you need a stipend for you final year of the doctorate. If your goal is to finish writing your dissertation during the 2014-15 academic year, for example, plan to apply for fellowships in the fall of 2013.  In your application, you will need to make a compelling case that you will finish writing in the year that you are receiving funding. As such, the majority of applications for this kind of fellowship require that you include a detailed timeline to completion that outlines your benchmarks toward achieving this goal.

An example of a completion award that funds doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences is the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. In addition to a five-page proposal, the application for this fellowship requires a 25-page body chapter of the dissertation itself. By planning well in advance of the deadline for a completion fellowship, you will familiarize yourself with the requirements of the application and be able to prepare accordingly. Though dissertation completion fellowships are less common in the sciences, the Ford Foundation offers Dissertation Fellowships to students in STEM fields, as well as those in the humanities.

If you are planning to finish your dissertation within the next couple years, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the possible fellowships available to you. Consider setting up a pre-application meeting with GradFund in which a Fellowship Advisor will work with you to identify possible funders. You can also search the Pivot database, a clearinghouse for thousands of awards.

About Ben Arenger

I am a postdoctoral associate in fellowship advising at the Graduate School-New Brunswick, Rutgers University.
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