A program that provides financial support and other resources to a student or recent graduate in exchange for their work on a research project or for their service to a community organization.


What is a fellowship?

A program that provides financial support and other resources to a student or recent graduate in exchange for their work on a research project or for their service to a community organization.

Types of Fellowships

There are three main types of fellowships: graduate fellowships, medical fellowships, and postdoctoral fellowships.

Graduate fellowships offer advanced study and research opportunities to students who have completed a bachelor's degree and are pursuing their masters or doctoral degrees. These fellowships are often discipline-specific and may provide funding, mentorship, and research opportunities as well as the chance to work with experts in the field.

Medical fellowships, on the other hand, provide specialized training in medical fields, such as subspecialties within surgery or psychiatry. These fellowships offer hands-on learning opportunities that enable medical professionals to gain specific expertise, research skills, and learn the latest techniques and practices in their area of interest.

Postdoctoral fellowships are aimed at supporting individuals who have recently earned their doctoral degree by providing further research or professional development opportunities. These fellowships allow postdocs to continue their research or work with their post-doctoral advisor to transition into a permanent academic position.

While these types of fellowships may differ in their focus, objectives, and structure, they all offer advanced training and learning opportunities that can help participants achieve their professional goals. By choosing the right type of fellowship based on their interests and background, individuals can benefit from mentorship, support, and resources that can help them enhance their skills and expertise.

What are the Pros and Cons of Fellowships?

As we’ve already seen, Fellowships can provide valuable hands-on learning opportunities, with real-world projects that can develop practical skills and expertise. Fellowships also provide access to experienced professionals who can offer mentorship. They can also provide exposure to different perspectives, whether you're working with experts in your field or collaborating with peers from diverse backgrounds. Fresh ideas and approaches can help Fellows develop new skills and expand their horizons.

Possibly the biggest downside is that fellowships can be highly competitive. With many qualified candidates vying for limited spots, it can be challenging to secure a position. Many fellowships are also limited to narrow timeframes or locations. Some fellowships may also not offer compensation, which can be a significant disadvantage for participants. However, it's worth noting that many fellowships do offer stipends, living expenses, or other financial support which may or may not balance the lack of compensation. 

Here are some tips to consider when evaluating fellowship opportunities:

  • Define your goals: Before applying to a program, make sure you understand your career aspirations and what you hope to gain from the experience. Does the fellowship align with your goals?
  • Research the program: Take the time to learn as much as you can about the fellowship and the organization that sponsors it. Look for past participants and outcomes, as well as any potential challenges or limitations.
  • Consider the requirements: Make sure you are eligible for the fellowship and that you are prepared to meet any application requirements, such as essays, interviews, or recommendations.
  • Weigh the benefits: Evaluate the potential benefits of the fellowship, such as practical experience, mentorship, or funding, against the challenges and potential drawbacks.

What is the difference between Fellowships and Internships?

Both Fellowships and Internships offer practical experience, but fellowships often have a more structured program that includes training, mentorship, and project work. Internships, on the other hand, may be less structured and offer learning opportunities based on day-to-day tasks and projects.

Internships are often geared towards current students or recent graduates, while fellowships may require a higher level of education or specialized training. In addition, internships may be paid or unpaid, while fellowships may offer stipends or salaries.

If you're interested in gaining specialized training or exposure to advanced techniques in a specific field, a fellowship may be the right choice. Additionally, if you're interested in gaining an edge over other job candidates, a fellowship can provide a highly competitive and unique experience.

If, however, you're just starting out and looking to gain basic skills and build a foundation for your career, an internship may be a better fit. Furthermore, internships can be an excellent way to explore different career paths or industries before committing to a specific area.

What is the difference between Fellowships and Scholarships?

A scholarship is an award or grant given to students or researchers to help support their studies or research, while a fellowship is a more comprehensive program designed to provide specialized training and practical experience.

Another difference is eligibility. Scholarships are often open to a broader range of candidates, including undergraduate and graduate students, while fellowships may require a higher level of experience or education. Many fellowships, for example, are designed for post-doctoral researchers, while scholarships may be open to students starting their undergraduate degrees.

Examples of fellowship include the Luce Scholars Program, which gives young leaders intensive exposure to Asia through a year-long program. Examples of scholarship programs include the Rhodes Scholarship, which funds postgraduate study at the University of Oxford for students from select countries.

What is the difference between Fellowships and Apprenticeships?

Although fellowships and apprenticeships share certain similarities, including practical learning opportunities and mentorship, apprenticeships are often more hands-on career training programs that focus on specific technical skills and trades that require a blend of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Fellowships are more often advanced academic or professional development programs that may not have specific job training goals that lead directly to a specific occupation.

In an apprenticeship program, participants are often paid hourly or by a stipend while they work alongside a more experienced professional, while fellowships are not usually focused on a specific on-the-job training aspect. Apprenticeships may be several years in duration and are often associated with specific trade industries, such as carpentry, electricians, or welding. Fellowships, on the other hand, are often a shorter duration of around a year or two and are available across a broad range of academic fields, research areas or social issues.


Want to learn more about apprenticeships? Check out our blog.