Why a fellowship?

Good for the student:

  • Fellowships provide financial security by guaranteeing funding outside of expiring grants, transitioning or moving faculty members, and generally unforeseen events.
  • Many fellowship opportunities are extremely competitive and/or nationally recognized. To receive such an award is a benefit to you and your future career goals.
  • Fellowships allow greater flexibility in choosing research projects and permit the pursuit of independent and innovative ideas that may cross-disciplines.
  • Beyond the financial assistance of fellowships, some opportunities provide research allowances, travel experiences, career opportunities and general professional development.
  • Many fellowships hold national conventions and conferences providing a source for networking with your peers and recognized experts in your field.
  • Additionally, preparing for a fellowship application can provide good experience towards grant writing that may be an important skill for your future career.
  • The preparation of the application can also help you flesh out your research goals and can provide a helpful roadmap and/or timeline.

Good for MIT and your department:

  • With a reduction in the amount of federal funds directed towards science and technology research and an increase in the demand for this money, federal funding for sponsored research is dropping nationally leading to a need for MIT to diversify its funding portfolio and search for more dependable sources of financial support.
  • For first year students, many faculty hesitate to use lab funds for students who will spend the majority of their time in the classroom (RAs) and students often don’t have the time or expertise to be teaching assistants (TAs).
  • For some programs, there may be little or no funds available to directly support students, especially for smaller programs or those that are traditionally self-funded, or perhaps the scope of such programs do not lend themselves to having an abundance of research or reaching assistantships available for their students.
  • Broader sources of funding also enable faculty to recruit graduate students with unconventional and potentially interdisciplinary research interests.
  • The recipients of certain fellowships are often reported to the public and this can be a great source of positive publicity for student, departments, and the institute as a whole.
  • Bringing in external funding is often valued by Principle Investigators (PIs) and often allows them to bring on more students in their lab that they would otherwise not have the funding to support.