Graduate fellowships and traineeships (herein referred to as graduate fellowships) are recognized nationally as a means to acknowledge and support outstanding graduate students in pursuit of their advanced degree objectives. Graduate fellowships provide financial support to graduate students without a commensurate service requirement.

Graduate fellowships vary widely by their purpose, selectivity, duration and support level. They are often awarded at a specific stage in the educational continuum. They may be supported by either internal or external sources of funds. The following discussion illustrates the variety of fellowships that are commonly available and emphasizes the differences among varying fellowship types.

Types of fellowships

Predoctoral fellowships

Most federally-sponsored predoctoral fellowships are awarded under a national competition on the basis of a student's intellectual merit and the potential that the student and her/his proposed research may have for creating positive societal impacts. Predoctoral fellowships are typically portable, meaning the recipient may choose the educational institution and graduate program for which the fellowship will be utilized. Predoctoral fellowships typically provide multiple years of funding at nationally competitive rates to fully support the educational and living expenses of recipients in the early stages of their graduate programs. Most include a cost of education allowance in addition to the fellowship stipend. Select predoctoral fellowships may also provide a research allowance.

Dissertation fellowships

In contrast, dissertation fellowships typically provide only a stipend for living expenses and are intended for students who will complete the writing phase of the dissertation during a one-year award period. Dissertation fellowships rarely include educational allowances recognizing the recipient is in the advanced stage of doctoral training with most, if not all, course work completed.


Traineeships are offered under training grants secured by institutional faculty for the purpose of developing the next generation of disciplinary and/or multidisciplinary experts who will become leaders and innovators in their professional careers. Like predoctoral fellowships, traineeships provide a competitive stipend and cost of education allowance. In addition, some may provide research allowances, internship opportunities, and international research experiences. A primary distinction between graduate traineeships and predoctoral fellowships is that the principal investigator(s) select the students who will participate in the advanced training program.

Institutional graduate fellowships

Institutional graduate fellowships may be offered by academic programs or the Graduate School for the purpose of recruiting or retaining graduate students of quality and/or shaping an inclusive student body that embraces a broad range of perspectives. Institutional graduate fellowships are typically sponsored through donations made to the OSU Foundation or through other authorized funds designated by the Provost for strategic purposes. These internally-funded graduate fellowships typically provide stipend only and contribute full support for the recipient's living expenses. Allowances for education and/or research are commonly not included. However, to maximize the value of institutionally-sponsored graduate fellowships, stipends that meet or exceed the prevailing recommended minimum value for a .49 FTE appointment may qualify for auxiliary tuition support from the Graduate School upon request from the sponsoring graduate program.

How graduate fellowships are different

Graduate student funding encompasses many categories of financial support and terminology is often used incorrectly and/or interchangeably. To avoid confusion, it should be emphasized that graduate fellowships are to be distinguished from other forms of support (e.g., scholarships, assistantships, hourly-wage appointments) both by their non-employment attributes and their single-source origin and comprehensive nature of financial support. To this end, it is important to recognize that competitive federally-sponsored predoctoral fellowships offering multi-year support of up to $40,500 per year or more and/or OSU Foundation fellowships that meet prevailing recommended minimum stipends for .49 FTE appointments stand apart from financial packages that, for example, provide only a $5,000 or $10,000 supplement. Thus, eligibility criteria have been developed to provide transparency so that all members of the graduate community may make these distinctions.

It is the intent of the institution to ensure that an incentive remains for graduate students to seek competitive graduate fellowship support and for graduate fellows to be recognized and honored for the distinction that they bring to themselves and to the university as a result of their success.

Read the graduate fellowship policies

2022-2023 Graduate Fellow Handbook

2023-2024 Graduate Fellow Handbook