Resources | Fellowship Coaching

Fellowship Coaching

GPS sends out bi-weekly emails (the Grad Student Digest) that include information on fellowship deadlines. We also maintain a fellowship library, accesible here. There are numerous fellowships graduate students and postdocs can apply to, and this can sometimes seem overwhelming. Here are six steps that can get you on a manageable fellowship application quest:

1. Always start by talking to your adviser and graduate program. Your adviser can help you make a determination on which fellowship(s) to apply for and/or prioritize. They can suggest the government agency, private company, or discipline-related association you should investigate. Your adviser will be more than happy to help you with this; your increased funding furthers lab research and helps their prestige by having another award-winning student. Your graduate program administrator will also be able to share their knowledge and expertise with you.

2. Determine if you’re eligible for the fellowship(s). Fellowships from U.S. government agencies usually have citizenship requirements. Some fellowships have stipulations on length of time in graduate school. Other fellowships are geared toward certain demographics like women, minorities, LGBTQ+ community, association members, students who plan on a certain career after graduate school, etc.

3. Make a list of applicable fellowships, starting with the nearest deadline. Fellowship deadlines applications usually have a wide variety of deadlines throughout the year, but most have narrow windows. There’s always something to apply to, so it’s best if you organize yourself after you’ve determined which fellowships to apply to with your adviser. Start with the one that is due first so you don’t miss a deadline.

4. Give yourself enough time to write and edit. Your first draft is almost never your final version, and that is normal. Once you have determined which materials are required for your application, reach out to your adviser or other members within your department to see if there are examples of past applicant materials. Many fellowships have specific structures that are recommended, so these examples can provide clarity. Start with an outline and get through that really rough draft first, and then it will be nothing but refining after that. If you wait until the last minute and your adviser keeps asking for drafts you will end up stressed, so don’t do that to yourself!

5. Have several people read it. Ask your adviser. Ask your lab/group mates. Ask your peers. Ask your neighbor. Ask your family. You know people who are willing to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for a favor, but be specific with what you want them to look for (e.g. typos, grammar, flow, argument validation, etc). The more eyes that see it, the better. This will polish that application before you submit it!

6. Reach out to campus resources. The Center for Academic and Professional Communication (CAPC) offers one-on-one support with fellowship applications, academic and scientific writing, conference presentations, and data visualization.

7. Sign up for coaching. The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, in partnership with CAPC, currently offers coaching on particular graduate fellowships, such as NSF GRFP, NRSA, AHA, Ford, etc. Click here for information on fellowship coaching. For questions on coaching, email

Won a major fellowship and interested in coaching other Rice students? Apply Blogs about applying to grad school to be a coach! Email Jennifer Hunter ( for more information.