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Getting Started

How to Find an External Fellowship and Prepare a Winning Proposal 

First, know that creating a winning fellowship application takes time, usually about three months. Start your preparations early. 

Second, search through our Fellowship Finder database to find fellowships and grants that are right for you. You should read the funder’s announcement thoroughly to make sure you can establish an excellent fit between your goals and the funder’s goals.

Third, enlist the participation of your advisor and committee members early on. Their guidance, and their letters of recommendation, will factor heavily in your competitiveness.

Fourth, attend one of our proposal writing workshops to learn the basics of grant writing. We hold these regularly throughout the year and advertise them in GradLinks.  You can also consult our online resources that provide tips on how to prepare competitive proposals.  

Fifth, work closely with your advisor and committee members to compose your proposal. For most competitions, you’ll need to write in a way that will appeal to a well-educated lay person. Most review panelists will not be experts in your particular area of research; some may not even be in your field. You therefore have to write in an accessible, jargon-free manner that will engage both specialists and non-specialists and will convince all readers that your project is fascinating, important, and feasible.

Sixth, once you have a completed draft in hand, feel free to contact us about a one-on-one review. We will be glad to review the proposal and offer comments on how to improve it. 

Once you’ve completed all this, it will be time to submit the proposal, sit back and relax, and hope that the winds of fortune are blowing your way. 

Until then, the Office of External Fellowships is here to help.  Feel free to contact us.