The Graduate School is pleased to offer the Promising Scholar Fellowship. This award is intended to support the recruitment of graduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds who demonstrate scholarly promise at OSU. Eligible nominees must have participated in one or more scholar programs that support students from low income, first generation, and/or historically underrepresented backgrounds in their pursuit for graduate education.

The award also aligns with and supports development in the OSU Grad Advantage core competencies for graduate students. Nominees are encouraged to complete the OSU Grad Advantage Self-Assessment Tool at the time of their nomination, or in the case of prospective students after they have been formally admitted to gauge their ongoing professional development.

This award—formerly offered as partial tuition support for former McNair Scholars - has expanded to include additional scholar programs and a 9-month fully funded fellowship with an accompanying tuition waiver.

Award Details

The Graduate School intends to offer up to five of these fellowships for the 2024-2025 Academic Year. The fellowship details include:

  • Tuition for a 3-credit graduate course during the summer 2024 term. Recipients are encourage to enroll in GRAD 514, a course that supports graduate academic and professional writing, offered remotely during the summer 2024 term. Alternative courses will be permitted with unit and Graduate School approval. All students must enroll in and successfully complete 3 graduate credits as part of the fellowship award. Students may enroll in additional credits at their own expense.
  • A one-time payment to cover OSU’s matriculation fee.
  • A one-time 9-month stipend (totaling $27,750 for doctoral students, $24,000 for master’s students).
  • A 2024-2025 academic year (fall, winter, spring) tuition waiver.
  • A $2,100 fee subsidy to cover costs associated with mandatory OSU fees.
  • Formal appointment as an OSU graduate fellow to allow access to subsidized health insurance under the prevailing graduate assistant/fellow health insurance plan.

To provide ongoing support to the recipient and assist with retention efforts, units are expected to provide a plan for financially sustaining the newly recruited student through degree completion. Please note that the requested plan need not guarantee long-term future funding as this may not be possible in all cases. Where this is not possible, units should provide evidence of specific ways in which it will work with students to help financially sustain their progress and timely degree completion (e.g. mentorship in writing applications to secure funding, nominations for external scholarships).


All nominees must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria:

  • Nominee must newly admitted for the 2024-2025 academic year through the domestic student application. Students who successfully completed a previous degree at OSU are eligible if their continuation to another/new degree meets with the spirit and intent of recruiting new graduate students. In these cases, the student must have submitted a new application for admission or a Change of Degree to add the new degree. These documents must indicate an official start date of summer 2024 or fall 2024. Please note that a student who has been readmitted to the same degree within the same degree program is not considered a newly admitted student for purposes of this award. A DAF does not need to be submitted at the time of nomination, but prior to any award offers being made.  
  • Nominee must have a GPA of 3.0 or above
  • The nominee must provide verification of participation while as a student in a scholar program supporting students from low income/first generation or historically underrepresented backgrounds aimed at diversifying enrollment in graduate study. Verification in the program by a program coordinator/director from the prior institution is required. Some examples of scholarly programs include: Gates Millennium, MANRRS, MARC Scholars, McNair Scholars, Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation [LSAMP], Ford Family Foundation Scholars, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, NiH BUILD or PREP, RISE, SACNAS.
  • To remain eligible for the award, the nominee must be a full-time, graduate degree-seeking student in an OSU doctoral or master’s program during the 2024-2025 academic year

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation of nominations will be based upon:

  • The nominee’s previous academic success
  • The nominee’s scholarly potential
  • The nominee’s commitment, persistence, and leadership
  • The nominee’s life experiences and background
  • The quality and feasibility of the unit’s plan for continued financial support for the nominee for their subsequent years at OSU

Nomination Period

The nomination period begins on September 27, 2023. All nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m., February 19, 2024. Awards will be determined in mid-March 2024.

Nomination Procedure

Nominations may be submitted by the nominee's graduate program director, department chair/head, college leadership, or appropriate leadership in an institutional partner unit. Students may not apply directly for this award. Each unit (as defined by university major code) and institutional partner may nominate no more than TWO nominees (total) per award cycle.

In the online nomination form, nominators will be required to prepare/upload the following materials as one PDF document using the following file name convention:

"Nominee's Last Name_Department_PromisingScholar.pdf", and upload it through the nomination form.

  1. A nominating letter (1 page maximum) from the unit head/chair/graduate program director describing: (a) the nominee’s eligibility for the award, with specific discussion and supporting documentation, as to which eligibility criteria the nominee meets and how; and (b) a detailed explanation as to how they envision the unit will financially support the student for the remainder of their graduate degree.
  2. A statement from the nominee (1 page maximum) that speaks to the following areas:

    1. Their academic merit and intellectual vitality

      • This can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, their commitment and persistence related to previous academic pursuits, their intellectual curiosity and commitment, and the strengths and skills they bring to their graduate studies.

    2. A discussion of their skills, knowledge, and previous experiences and how those contribute/will contribute to fostering an inclusive and diverse university community.
    3. How this award will support them in their graduate studies.
  3. A nominating letter (1 page maximum) from college leadership or the nominee’s major professor, unit chair/head addressing the following:

    1. The nominee’s previous academic success, scholarly potential, and the potential to grow and succeed in graduate studies.

      • This can be demonstrated by a combination of possible indicators including, but not limited to, prior coursework, degrees, and institutions of higher education; honors, awards, scholarships, or other academic distinctions; scholarly activity at previous institution(s) or employment; scholarly engagement in volunteer or service activities, membership in professional organizations, and research endeavors; the nominee’s skills and aptitudes that support scholarly activity; skills and aptitudes that would support academic success such as motivation, persistence, self-direction, planning, organization, and initiative

    2. The nominee’s life experiences and background including the diversity and richness of an individual’s background and the value those bring to the academic context.

      • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This can be demonstrated by a combination of indicators including, but not limited to, previous institution(s) attended; previous participation in educational or scholarly programs; previous work experiences; special talents or skills; experiences with overcoming substantial educational or economic obstacles; experience living or working in diverse environments; a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; cross-cultural experiences and opportunities for meaningful engagement with those different from self.

    3. The nominee’s commitment, persistence, and leadership including personal resolve, dedication, and initiative.
      • This can be demonstrated by a combination of indicators including, but not limited to, progression of academic performance over time and contextual factors; extracurricular involvement including the diversity of activities, duration and type of involvement, and growth in leadership; community service or volunteerism; quality and impact of leadership role(s); personal hardships or obstacles encountered and evidence of resilience.
  4. A copy of the nominee’s résumé or curriculum vitae.
  5. Verification from the nominee demonstrating participation while as a student in a scholar program supporting students from low income/first generation or historically underrepresented backgrounds aimed at diversifying enrollment in graduate study. Verification can include emailed confirmation by a program coordinator/director from the prior institution.

NOTE to Institutional Partners:

If an institutional partner is submitting the nomination, they must also have confirmation from the student’s academic unit that:

  • the student is not already being nominated for the same award by the academic unit, and
  • the student is in good academic standing, making satisfactory progress, and that the nomination aligns with the student’s status in the program.

Nomination Form

Submit a nomination

Nomination form overview


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