New Year, New Funding: Top 10 Fellowships for Women

As graduate students we are always on that grant grind. Not only for the accolades, but also for the extra funding because, hey – it can’t hurt right? So we gathered together some grants (in no particular order) that you can look out for throughout the year!

Shark Tank Judge with a lei and a coconut drink, cheers-ing "To cash flow"

BY: Alison McCarthy

One of the biggest fellowships out there is the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). This one is huge because not only is it an elite award, it funds you for 3 years of your graduate studies and typically only 2,000 students are awarded the fellowship. This application requires you to discuss broader impacts and intellectual merits, so if you have done outreach events or community service involving science (and other projects) it helps! One major benefit for this fellowship is that it is awarded to the person, not the project. If you are just applying to graduate school it can go anywhere you go and if you don’t want to do exactly the research project you propose, in the end you do not have to. If you are in graduate school and need to change groups, you can take your funding with you. This flexibility means more freedom to learn and grow as you want to. The application is due toward the end of October (specific dates depend on your discipline) and is only for undergraduate seniors or 1st and 2nd year grad students. Rumor is that they lean more toward undergraduates applying so if you want to go to graduate school definitely think about applying!

The Hertz fellowship is probably the most competitive fellowship in the United States. It is for students in applied physical and biological sciences, mathematics, and engineering either as a graduating senior or a first year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. This fellowship is available to be renewed up to 5 years and can be awarded in conjunction with another fellowship like the NSF GRFP (they will adjust the award in coordination with another fellowship, normally you cannot double up). If you choose to accept this fellowship you must make a “moral commitment to make [your] ‘skills available to the United States in times of national emergency.’” The website states this has never happened but is an important principle that John Hertz believed in. This fellowship application will open up in August and should be due in October.

This fellowship program is run by the Department of Defense (DoD) and is awarded to students who will pursue a doctoral degree in or near an area of interest to the DoD. Unlike some of their other fellowships, this one does not require you to work for the DoD after graduation (SMART Scholarship program). Like the GRFP, you are awarded this fellowship for three years and it is transferable between institutions. Unlike the GRFP, you must carry out the research project that you propose. Each fellowship is sponsored by either the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research OFfice, or the Office of Naval Research, so when you apply make sure to gear your research toward a specific office by describing how they could benefit from your research. The next application will open in September and will probably be due in the beginning of December if it follows last year’s schedule. This fellowship has changed around a bit in the last few years so definitely check it out when the application opens up for the actual due date!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship honors the former director of the National Ocean Service by encouraging women and minorities gaining graduate degrees in the fields of oceanography, marine biology, and maritime archaeology and all other science, engineering, social science and resource management disciplines involving ocean and coastal areas. This program provides yearly support of up to $42,000 and support for a 4-6 week program collaboration at a NOAA facility. Unlike most scholarships/fellowships, students in all stages of masters or Ph.D. studies are eligible to apply! Masters students may be supported for up to two years and doctoral students for up to four years. This application will open up in October and close sometime in December. Luckily for you, the website lays out how they judge the applications, down to weight percentages for each component of your application (e.g. references are 10%).

The National GEM Consortium’s goal is to increase the participation of underrepresented groups at the master and doctoral levels in science and engineering. Along with their fellowship program they give undergraduate students professional experiences to help them determine if they want to go to graduation school with Grad Labs. The fellowship has three options for students: a MS Engineering Fellowship Program, a Ph.D. Engineering Fellowship, and a Ph.D. Science Fellowship. Each fellowship varies but generally you receive a living stipend and a paid internship with a GEM Employer member along with full tuition and fees provided by a GEM University Member. To be eligible for this you must be a senior or graduate of an accredited program at the time of your application. The application will open from July 1st through November 12th.

TechWomen provides women leaders in STEM from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East with an opportunity to be a part of a mentorship and exchange program in the United States. It is a five-week program where participants can gain experience at professional development workshops and networking events along with project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. At the end of the program the participants travel to Washington D.C. for targeted meetings and special events. This year’s application closes January 16th – which we know is today – but you can always apply next January!

The M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship was established by Hildred Blewett before she passed, leaving nearly everything she had to the American Physical Society for scholarships for women in physics. She wanted to help women overcome professional obstacles by establishing a fellowship to help women return to physics research after having to interrupt their career. This is a one year award of up to $45,000 and can be renewed the following year for more support. This style of fellowship is very much needed in science, as many women struggle to get back into their field after taking a break to care for children or family members. Hopefully, more fellowships similar to this in other fields become available in the future. The application is due June 1st and is available to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

The Postdoctoral Enrichment Program is for underrepresented students in the United States or Canada who are studying biomedical or medical research. PDEP provides support of $60,000 over three years through enhancing the postdoctoral training and experience of underrepresented minority junior scientists. You need to be nominated by a qualified mentor at the degree-granting institution who will conduct your fellowship training. The postdoctoral position you are in (or will be in) must be funded, as the $20,000 a year is for research equipment and education/training. This year’s proposal deadline is January 16th so unless you’ve already started your application you can try again next January!

The Life Sciences Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship is a three-year fellowship for biological sciences students holding a M.D., Ph.D., D.V.M., or D.D.S. degree. This fellowship is available for United States citizens working in any geographic location or non-U.S. citizens working in a U.S. laboratory during the LSRF Fellowship. Students starting their first or second postdoctoral position are allowed to apply if they are switching supervisors and projects. The award is $62,000 a year for three years, with $10,000 a year of that for research equipment. The application should open up in the beginning of September and should be due sometime in the beginning of October if it follows last years schedule.

Finally, the L’Oréal USA Fellowships for Women in Science is one of the more prestigious awards for postdoctoral researchers. For this fellowship, L’Oréal partners with UNESCO to award five women postdoctoral scientists up to $60,000 annually, towards their research. Their goal is to acknowledge the great research being done by women in science. For L’Oréal this fellowship came out of the belief that “the world needs science, and science needs women because women in science have the power to change the world.” The application is due February 1st this year so get moving if this applies to you! If you are a graduate student that would like to eventually do a postdoc keep this fellowship in the back of your mind for the future! This is the USA version of this international fellowship so if you’re international, make sure to look for your countries application.

In addition to all of these listed above, reach out to your department for fellowships that they have been awarded and apply through them! For example, the Material Sciences & Engineering and Chemical Engineering Department was awarded the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellowship and I applied for it through the department’s own process. There are also fellowships that you can apply for that are school specific so check in with your school. Stony Brook offers the Turner fellowship, which you can apply for when you apply to the school. It’s focus is on helping eligible underrepresented graduate students at Stony Brook University and is coordinated by the Center for Inclusive Education.

Most of these fellowships are for U.S. citizens or permanent residents unless otherwise noted, but I found THIS spreadsheet created by @wardofplants that doesn’t require citizenship for undocumented graduate students.

Now there are always more grants available and this is by no means a comprehensive list, but these will fully fund (stipend and tuition or research) you or your research, not just provide money for textbooks or travel to a conference. Of course apply for these too, but I did say ‘Top Ten’ fellowships and I had to narrow down somehow.

Happy applying!


Author: sbugwise

We are the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering group at Stony Brook University and we are dedicated to supporting women in STEM fields.

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