Seven Steps to a Carleton-funded Fellowship Application

30 September 2023

Don’t be worried if you have lots of questions about what a fellowship is or how to go about applying for one – that’s where we all start!

This post includes the questions you need to answer and steps you need to take, and Director of Student Fellowships Marynel Ryan Van Zee is ready to talk about your application. You can use her appointment calendar, or email her directly.

1. What is your project idea?

Answer the important questions about your idea. Who, what, when, where, why, and how? Your answers will form the basis of your project proposal for a research or experiential learning fellowship.

  • If you want to do research or engage in a creative project (especially if you are a junior preparing for comps), you can read about Fellowships for Research/Artistic Projects. 
  • If you are interested in experiential learning that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with research or comps, you can read about Fellowships for Experiential Learning.
  • It is important to note that fellowships cannot be used to fund OCS programs (though you can use them before or after an OCS experience) and can only rarely be used to fund supervised experiences that are understood more properly as internships (see the Career Center to fund an internship experience).
  • STEM research is usually supported through other sources of funding. Independent Comps research, geology field work, and other STEM-based projects can occasionally be supported with funding from the Office of Student Fellowships.

Need inspiration? Learn how some Carls have used fellowships!

Be sure to start thinking about what you want to do and preparing your application materials as early as you can; it takes time to build a strong proposal, write an appropriate budget, talk to potential recommenders, and make sure everything is complete by the deadline date.

See this guide for creating a successful proposal, and view sample successful proposals. You can also consult with Director of Student Fellowships Marynel Ryan Van Zee (office hours appointment calendar) and you should definitely consult with your faculty mentors!

For assistance with drafting your materials, from the first stages to the last, the Writing Center Consultants are also a great resource.

2. Which fellowship (s) should you apply for?

There are three fellowship deadlines per academic year. Some fellowships can be used in summer or over Winter Break, but some are for summer only. Some of our fellowships can be used all over the world, but some of them must be used in certain places.

You can apply for some fellowships every term that use a common application and common recommendation forms.

You can apply for some fellowships only during Winter Term (the Donelson Fellowship, the Hanson Ethics Fellowship, the Technos International Week Program (first-year and sophomore students only), and the Nancy Wilkie Fellowship for Archaeological Field Experience) have individual applications and recommendation forms. Be sure to consult the individual fellowships pages for information on what is required!

3. Why are you the person to do this?

Describe your knowledge and/or skills. The Student Fellowships Committee will want to know that you are able to carry out the project you describe. What relevant classes have you taken? What other knowledge or skills have you acquired?

Some experiential learning projects rely more on curiosity than on preparation, but we still need to be sure you are ready to pursue them.

4. What financial support do you need?

Create your budget. The budget for a Carleton-funded fellowship uses standard categories such as transportation, accommodation and meals, fees or costs associated with your research or experiential learning plan, and others. See this guide for help in preparing your budget. You may also include up to $1000 in your summer (but not Winter Break) budget for a savings goal, if pursuing your fellowship will keep you from earning money and you have an expected family contribution to your cost of attendance at Carleton.

5. When are the deadlines?

Carleton-funded fellowship application deadlines for 2023-24 will be Tuesday, October 17, 2023 (5pm Central Time) for Winter Break 2023 projects, and Tuesday, February 6, 2024 (5pm Central Time) or Tuesday, April 16, 2024 (5pm Central Time) for Summer Break 2024 or Winter Break 2024 projects.

It is best to meet the February deadline for 2024 projects, rather than waiting for the April deadline, so that you can revise and re-submit your proposal if it is not selected for funding the first time!

6. Secure your recommendations.

Ask faculty in advance. The recommendation deadline is a week after the application deadline, so we can be sure your recommenders will see the final version of your application. But it’s important to ask them in advance if they are willing to provide a recommendation!

7. Complete and submit your application.

See the deadline information above. In addition to creating the project proposal, personal statement, and budget mentioned above, and confirming your recommenders, you’ll need to: write a brief summary of your application; include a few citations for research proposals; upload your resume and any other documents required for your specific application/fellowship; and hit submit by the deadline.