Frequently Asked Questions

A fellowship is a grant or stipend given to support advanced study or research for a graduate student. A scholarship is a grant or stipend for an undergraduate student.

The Fellowships Office assists undergraduates, graduating seniors, and alumni who are interested in applying for nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships. The Scholarship Center of WWU coordinates and administers local scholarships primarily on the undergraduate level, as well as institutional and state scholarship programs for Western students. The majority of these scholarships help you study on campus and/or in other countries as part of the WWU's Travel Abroad Program.

The Fellowships Office assists students in a number of ways. The most important services include:

  • Assistance in determining whether the student is a viable candidate.
  • Assistance in finding scholarships and fellowships that match the candidate’s educational background and career goals.
  • Guidance in writing the required essays, including the personal statement and research proposal.
  • Assistance in preparing for interviews.

All nationally competitive scholarship or fellowship applications are now electronic. You should begin by registering online. Read the directions carefully. Give accurate, clear, and concise answers. Be completely honest. Do not exaggerate.

If the application involves essays – personal statements, research proposals, etc. – you should work on your drafts off-line and upload them only when you are satisfied that they are your very best work. Most programs will accept documents prepared in Word. Check the instructions to make sure that you are using a program that is compatible.

Most nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships require students to register with a fellowships advisor and to work closely with this individual throughout the application process.

Applicants who are applying for scholarships that do not require them to work through the Fellowships Office are welcome to ask for assistance.

Because many of the scholarships and fellowships for graduate study have deadlines in the early fall, juniors are strongly encouraged to begin work at the beginning of spring quarter. If you are going to be off campus during the summer and/or the fall, you need to get a good start on your application before leaving campus.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship that has a deadline in January, you should get started during fall quarter.

A strong application typically takes about 40 hours over a period of a couple of months to complete. In addition to writing two or three essays, you may need to spend time researching graduate programs, establishing institutional affiliations in another country, or developing research proposals. The more time you invest in the preliminary research, think about how the fellowship will enable you to achieve your goals, consider what you can contribute as a result of receiving a major fellowship, and present your ideas in clear, concise prose, the more likely you will be successful.

Scholarships and fellowships that require either a campus evaluation or an institutional endorsement usually have a campus deadline about three weeks before the final deadline. This allows time for a campus interview, if required, and/or completion of the evaluation and/or the endorsement.

The campus deadline allows time to make sure that all the components of the application have been completed and are correct. It also makes it possible to submit the online application early enough to avoid last-minute technical glitches, especially when a system is overloaded with last minute submissions.

The most prestigious scholarships and fellowships limit the number of candidates a university is allowed to submit. These scholarships and fellowships also require a letter from a senior administrator – the president, provost, or dean – explaining why the university has selected a particular candidate. The letter is usually written by the fellowships advisor, even though it is signed by the senior administrator.

Yes, if you meet the criteria for more than one.

Yes. While some scholarships are limited to graduating seniors, several of the most prestigious fellowships are open for a few years beyond graduation. You need to check the individual fellowships for details.