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 are admitting for a doctoral or master of fine arts program, and who are external applicants to MSU. Students must possess a baccalaureate degree. 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 January 27, 2020. 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. The first round of fellowship offers will be made no later than the beginning of March.

The coordinator of the fellowships and the Dean of the Graduate School will make early offers to the most outstanding candidates in the pool. All other files will be circulated to the University Fellowship Selection Advisory Committee, composed of faculty representing participating colleges. Each committee member will screen approximately 15-17 files; each file will be read by three committee members. 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. After meeting with the committee to discuss the rankings, the fellowship coordinator and the Dean of the Graduate School will make the rest of the first round offers. 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.

Financial Support

UDF and UEF recipients beginning study in 2020-2021 will receive a 12-month stipend of $29,000 plus a stipend for health insurance. In addition, tuition and related fees will be waived within some limits. Fellows must maintain strong academic performance and make normal progress toward their degrees.

  • Doctoral students receive five years of support. The first and fifth years are funded by the Graduate School, with no teaching or research service required of the student. During the second, third, and fourth years of fellowship support, students receive a departmental assistantship that may require them to assist in research and/or teaching.
  • Master of Fine Arts students are jointly supported by the Graduate School and their department for three years.

Nomination Form

2020-21 Nomination Cover Sheet (PDF)
Brochure for Fall 2020 Applicants and Departments (PDF)

Additional Recruitment Fellowships

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