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Cornell University

Finding A Public Service Fellowship

Qualifications and Goals

There are tens of thousands of fellowships available. To focus your search effectively on those fellowships that match your strengths and needs, you will need to take some time to examine your qualifications and goals.

Step One: Self-Assessment

Make a list of the following information:

Your Strengths

  • GPA: if 3.5 or higher, you may be eligible to apply for one or more Prestigious Fellowships
  • field of study
  • special interests
  • activities

Your Goals

  • intended school or program (if known)   
  • intended geographic location (if known)  
  • amount of funding needed   future professional goals

Step Two: Special Eligibility Requirements

Some fellowships are designed to target specific types of individuals. Take advantage of any factors in your background or heritage that may increase your options. Make a list of the following personal information:

Your Background and Heritage

  • ethnicity   
  • gender  
  • race   
  • geographic
  • residency   
  • citizenship   
  • group affiliations (union, sorority,etc.)

Step Three: Identifying Appropriate Fellowships

The information you have compiled should suggest possible keywords or categories you can use to search and print online listings of fellowships (examples: minority, Alaska, leadership, humanities, Washington University). Start with general listings, then move on to more narrowly focused collections. Compile a list of possible fellowship opportunities.

Step Four: Deciding Which Fellowships to Target

Take a look at your list, for each fellowship.

  • make sure you meet the stated eligibility requirements  
  • make sure your aims are compatible with the goals of the fellowship

Circle those fellowships that seem to provide the strongest match between the fellowship's requirements and goal, your strengths, and future plans.

Since the application process is basically the same for most fellowships, applying for one entails just about as much work as applying for several. Choose 2—6 fellowships to target, including one or two "more competitive" ones that might be long shots, and one or two "less competitive" ones that seem to be reasonable bets.If you need help narrowing down your list, or determining which fellowships are more and less competitive options for you, talk to a faculty advisor or your College Fellowship Representative.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you plan on pursuing graduate studies? If so, what kind?
  • Which faculty advisors know you and your work best?
  • What academic work (research project, independent study, substantial paper, honors thesis) have you done or plan to do?
  • Are you mainly interested in government fellowships and future employment?
  • Are you mainly interested in environmental fellowships and future employment?
  • Which of your activities best demonstrate your commitment to your local, home or campus community?
  • Which of your activities best express your values and talents?
  • In what ways have you demonstrated leadership?