Funding in Engineering – Advice from a Fellowship Advisor

There is funding available at each stage of graduate study for students of engineering. The funding opportunities vary, as with any other field, based on personal information, field of study, and research site, amongst other criteria.

Graduate Student Fellowships:

Early Graduate

There are several fellowships available to engineers as incoming graduate students and in the first few years of graduate study. The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) is a popular award for seniors heading to graduate school and students with less than 12 months of full-time graduate study as of August 1 (typically 1st and 2nd year students). Other early graduate awards for engineering students are the Ford Predoctoral Fellowship, the GEM fellowship, the Department of Defense NDSEG, and the Department of Energy CSGF. The deadlines for these awards are spread out over the next few months.

Dissertation Research and Writing

After the first few years of graduate school, there is another group of fellowships available to support dissertation research and writing. If there is a laboratory or research group abroad that you will need to visit for an extended period of time, a Fulbright Study/Research Grant may provide an opportunity to support your international travel. In addition, engineers conducting medical research may be eligible for a National Institutes of Health F31 Fellowship, which supports dissertation research. The Ford Foundation and the American Association of University Women support dissertation writing by engineers.


In addition, other organizations provide fellowships that are more flexible in that they can be used early or late in your graduate career. The Department of Defense SMART fellowship can be 1-5 years in duration, and you can apply at any time. The SMART fellowship does require that you accept post-graduate employment with the DoD. There are also opportunities to work with the Smithsonian throughout your graduate career if your research is relevant to one of its research facilities.

Grants and Scholarships:

A great place to start to find grants and scholarships are companies and societies that support your particular engineering field. In addition to these resources, the State of New Jersey provides scholarships and fellowship grants for particular types of research projects, like those focused on brain injury or spinal cord injury. Small grants and scholarships are also given out by Sigma Xi, the Society of Women Engineers, and Graduate Women in Science.

Postdoctoral Awards:

Engineers can apply for many postdoctoral awards. Both the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have postdoctoral fellowships that would allow you to bring your own funding into an academic laboratory. In addition, if you want to work in a particular lab abroad, a Fulbright Study/Research Grant can be used to fund postdoctoral work in some countries. The government also has opportunities to fund postdoctoral work, with the National Academies providing research associateships for different laboratories within the Army, Navy, EPA, and more. The Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium also offers postdoctoral fellowships in government organizations such as the EPA, FDA, and FBI. In addition, there are fellowships available to work with small businesses and develop science policy.

As you can see, there are numerous opportunities available for engineering graduate students and beyond. Thinking about applying for funding throughout your graduate career can be overwhelming; to help guide yourself through the process, read up on what to do when and applying for funding. Good luck!

This entry was posted in engineering, Funder and Award Spotlight, Planning When to Apply, STEM, Understanding Award Types and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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