The Sylff program aims to identify and nurture leaders who will overcome differences in nationality, language, ethnicity, religion, and political systems to tackle global issues, and who have the integrity, determination, and expertise to bring about positive social change in global society and their local community. Award recipients must be doctoral students who have matriculated at Portland State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Oregon who possess high potential for leadership in international affairs, in public life or private endeavor.

Sylff Graduate Fellowships for International Research are supported by an endowment to Portland State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Oregon—universities that are jointly beneficiaries of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff). Fellowship scholarships are awarded to full-time doctoral students for one academic year of graduate work that involves research and scholarly endeavors in programs and projects with an international dimension.

Outstanding doctoral students will be considered through nomination by their respective graduate department/program. Departments and graduate programs must indicate their own (or their institution’s) commitment to financially support nominees.

Award Details

  • On average, 7 awards in total are made annually across the three eligible institutions.
  • Sylff recipients receive annual scholarships of $15,000 to assist with educational and research-related expenses.
  • Scholarship funds are dispersed in three equal installments over the academic year.


  • Nominee must be a matriculated doctoral student at Portland State University, Oregon State University, or the University of Oregon, and should have passed the comprehensive exam or equivalent.
  • Nominee should be enrolled in a program in the social sciences or humanities. Students from outside the social sciences and humanities may still be considered if they are pursuing multi-disciplinary research from a social science or humanities perspective.
  • Nominee’s research seeks to understand and/or transcend differences, and bring about positive social change.
  • Each graduate program may submit one nomination. Departments/graduate programs must indicate their own (or their institution’s) commitment to financial support of nominees.

Nomination Period

The nomination period begins Monday, February 5, 2024. All nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

Academic units may have earlier internal deadlines. Graduate students are encouraged to consult with their graduate department/program and submit their applications accordingly.

Nomination Procedure

Nominations may be submitted by the nominee’s major professor, department head, program director, or unit/chair head. Only one nomination may be made by each department or graduate program. This award requires materials from both the nominator and the nominee.

Nominators will be required to prepare/upload all materials from the nominee and the nominator, as one PDF document using the following file name convention:

“Nominee’s Last Name_Department_PSU/OSU/UO_Sylff.pdf” and upload it through the nomination form

Nominee/student-provided Materials

  1. Copies of all graduate transcripts.
  2. A CV/resume that includes the following information:
  • Name, telephone number, and email address
  • Colleges and universities attended as an undergraduate and graduate student, including current institution; include dates of attendance and degrees granted.
  • Field of graduate study, including major, and any minors or specializations.
  • University or college honors, such as awards and scholarships.
  • Publications of articles and books.
  • Relevant employment history.
  • Memberships, offices, and leadership positions held since completing high school.
  • Proficiency in languages other than English or plans to study other languages.
  1. A statement from the nominee, no longer than 1600 words (not including references), addressing their (a) leadership experience or potential, especially in transcending differences; (b) research goals, motivation, and methods (consider including a relevant figure or table); (c) how the research project and/or intended career will lead to positive social change; (d) evidence of determination and/or integrity; and (e) qualitative description of the intended use of SYLFF award funds.

Nominator-provided Materials

  1. Nomination letter from the department head or graduate program director confirming this is the ONE student selected for nomination and confirmation of the department or institution’s commitment to financially support for the student.
  • Typically, these supplemental contributions are in the form of an assistantship and associated tuition waiver during the fellowship/award period so that Sylff awarded-funds can be used to address travel, living, and research expenses associated with an international research project.
  • Although nominations may be made for students lacking supplemental funding, a priority will be given to those nominations that exhibit a strong institutional commitment to supporting the nominee during the next academic year.
  1. Three letters of recommendation that address the nominee’s experience or potential for leadership that transcends differences; academic performance; integrity and determination; and capacity/motivation to bring about positive social change.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Experience or potential for leadership that transcends differences or brings positive social change.
  • Academic success, including prior graduate degree (if any), cumulative GPA, and academic performance in degree-relevant courses; Strongest candidates have progressed at least to the stage of preparing a research proposal.
  • Quality of nominee statement: professionalism in writing, ability to explain research goals and methods to a general reader, attention to all prompted areas; and recommendation letters.

Nomination Deadline

5 p.m., Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

Nomination Form

Submit a nomination

Nomination form overview


For questions about this award or any Graduate School administered awards, please email our Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships team.

Additional Sylff Information

The awards listed on the Sylff website under Support Programs are additional award opportunities for students who already have a Sylff award.