University Fellowship Programs

Past Featured Fellows

Graduate School Recruitment Fellowship Selection Process

The Graduate School offers fellowship programs that provide financial support for outstanding students who plan to enroll in a doctoral or Master of Fine Arts program. We are particularly aware of the special role that graduate education plays in training the next generation of leaders in academia, government and the private sector. In assisting MSU achieve its educational mission, our goal is to foster an intellectually vital and diverse educational community that will prepare graduate students to assume their professional roles in a diverse society. The Graduate School’s recruitment fellowships support departments and programs in their goal of attracting a cohort of students who:

  • have demonstrated academic excellence
  • articulate their commitment to research goals well matched to department or program doctoral emphasis areas
  • show evidence of leadership potential or of the capacity to make a distinctive professional or scholarly contribution
  • contribute to a diverse educational community, as evidenced in personal history and experience, research goals, or the promotion of understanding among persons of different backgrounds and ideas
  • have different racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, geographic, and disciplinary backgrounds

Two kinds of fellowship awards are available, each of which carries the same stipend, benefits, and period of award:

University Distinguished Fellowships, recognizing academic achievement, research goals, demonstrated leadership potential, and contribution to a diverse educational community.

University Enrichment Fellowships, recognizing academic achievement, research goals, contribution to a diverse educational community, and a record of overcoming obstacles


Departments, programs and colleges may nominate students whom they have admitted for a doctoral or Master of Fine Arts program, who are external applicants to MSU, and whose files demonstrate some combination of the characteristics listed above. Only citizens or permanent residents of the United States are eligible.

The Selection Process

Colleges will send nominations for doctoral recruitment fellowships to the Graduate School by Monday, January 30, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. All nominations must be vetted through a college screening process and approved by the college dean or associate dean before coming to the Graduate School. Strong letters from departments explaining the fit of the applicant to their specific program and faculty will assist the fellowship selection committee’s evaluations of the files.

Each candidate will be evaluated on his/her: 1) academic excellence; 2) articulated research goals and their match to those of the department or program to which s/he has applied; 3) leadership potential; 4) contribution to a diverse educational community; 5) record of overcoming obstacles. In accordance with state law, the selection process “shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.” Students may receive only one of the awards. Files will be circulated to the University Fellowship Selection Advisory Committee, composed of faculty representing participating colleges. Each committee member will screen approximately 20-25 files (depending on the size of the applicant pool); each file will be read by three committee members. After meeting with the committee to discuss the rankings, the fellowship coordinator will make first round offers.

The first round of fellowship offers will be made no later than the beginning of March. The number of fellowship slots for UDF and UEF may vary, depending on how many strong candidates emerge in each group in a given year. The target will be approximately 20 students for each fellowship.

University Fellowship Programs 2023-24 Information

Nominations for the University Fellowship Programs (University Distinguished Fellowships and University Enrichment Fellowships) must be forwarded from the College to the Graduate School on or before January 30, 2023. The college will determine the deadline for their internal selection process.

The Graduate School will provide up to $600 to help bring each awardee to campus for a recruiting visit. Travel reimbursements will need to be processed through Concur by the department. These reimbursements must be approved by The Graduate School by April 1, 2023, to allow ample time for processing budget related paperwork for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

The current budget funds only ~40 fellowships for the entire university. Therefore, do not submit anyone who is not an outstanding candidate and who does not fit some of the selection criteria. Each department/program should provide a rationale for recommending each nominee. Strong department letters make a significant difference during the fellowship selection process. Candidates should not be nominated for a particular fellowship (with the exception of the Rasmussen and the CUMREC); the advisory committee will be considering all students in one pool.

We will be flexible in considering late nominations of truly outstanding candidates. We expect to select awardees and notify the units before March 1, 2023. A limited number of exceptional candidates may be identified and notified earlier.

A few things to note in planning for financial support for students you nominate:

  • The stipend for incoming students in 2023-2024 will be $32,000 for twelve months or $24,000 for nine months.
  • Please remember it is the responsibility of the department/school/college for funding years two, three and four of the student’s program at the level at least equivalent to their fellowship year, and for monitoring to ensure that students’ total stipend (whether through assistantship or supplemental fellowship dollars) is at least at the required level. Students working as teaching assistants in years 2, 3 and 4 also should receive the stipulated TA percentage increase for their 3rd and 4th yeas. Students may receive a supplement from the Graduate School to help maintain the stipend levels, but they may not defray the full difference between the GA stipend and the required support level. The supplemental amount for students in each college will be determined by Kirsten Tollefson (Associate Dean of the Graduate School).
  • The fellowships allow students to take up to 10 credits in fall and spring and 5 credits in the summer for the first year. You should plan to support the student in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th years for 9 credits in the fall and spring and for 5 credits in the summer. If students need, for good programmatic reasons, to enroll in additional credits for any of those three years, you should contact the Graduate School. Requests should come from the department, not the student, and they should be made before the start of the semester in which the student will be registering for the additional credits. If we approve the request, we will pay for the additional credits if we have additional funds in our budget.
  • The final year of fellowship funding covers 1-3 tuition credits per semester (students who have passed their comprehensive exams need only enroll in 1 credit to maintain full-time status). Students will not receive their final (5th) year of funding unless they have passed their exams; their change of status must be indicated in their SIS record before the start of the semester in which they will receive their fellowship.
  • Adjustments to the fellowship schedule for students who finish in less than five years or who receive other external fellowships should be discussed with the Graduate School at least one semester before the change in schedule. Requests must come from the department and/or college, not the student. We try to accommodate such requests when funding is available.

Questions should be directed to Kirsten Tollefson at

Nomination Form

2023-24 Nomination Cover Sheet (Fillable PDF)
2023-24 University Fellowship Selection Process (PDF)
2023-24 University Fellowship Brochure (PDF)

Additional Recruitment Fellowships

During the University Fellowship process, candidates will also be considered for the following awards: