Are there any fellowships that I can combine with my upcoming postdoc appointment?

Date: July 2017


Dear Deans,

Last week’s Announcements encouraged us to seek help with fellowship applications. I have successfully procured a postdoctoral fellowship for next year; however, I am hoping to find a second non-mutually exclusive fellowship, if possible, because the salary is quite low. Are you aware of any fellowships for which I am eligible? (This research could quite flexibly fit into many categories.)

Unfortunately, the postdoctoral Fulbright, which would have been perfect, has a deadline a full year ahead of the award, which I think is quite unreasonable for a postdoctoral award that requires one not to have started the work, considering that Ph.D. programs are not a fixed length and one can really not predict graduation and find a postdoctoral advisor that far ahead of time. They told me that the program is quite new, and were interested in my feedback about the timing; however, I am still not able to apply. Please let me know if you are aware of any other awards for which I may be eligible.

Thank you so much for your guidance,

Fellowship Seeking Graduate Student


Dear Fellowship Seeker,

Thanks for writing to Ask a Dean with your questions. I’m writing to address your fellowship questions.

Congratulations on your postdoctoral fellowship! Am I correct in assuming you will have finished your graduate degree by October? So you are looking for an additional postdoc fellowship rather than a graduate fellowship, right? I have worked with graduate students on graduate fellowship applications, but not with postdocs, so I have asked my colleague Christine Holmes, director of the Office of Postdoctoral Studies, for her perspective.

She advised me that unfortunately most fellowships take place in a very specific university and are considered full time employment. You cannot combine them with another opportunity. The most common fellowship that you could use at a university of your choice would be the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA).

You are correct about the fellowship deadlines. They usually occur five to six months before the awards are announced, and then another three to four months before the start of the award. The NSF Graduate Fellowship is a very good example illustrating the timeline. The National Science Foundation receives over 15,000 applications, and they use graduate faculty researchers as their reviewers to narrow the pool to the 2,000 winners. These winners often compete successfully for multiple awards, so there is a period of time after the awards are announced to allow the recipients to make their decision about which fellowship to accept (and then NSF goes to their wait list to offer awards to additional recipients).

For a postdoc position the turn-around time may be shorter as these are often considered appointments and employment, rather than fellowships. For awards with a shorter timeline, you might look for postdoc fellowships that don’t include such a large national competition. I’m sure Christine can make other suggestions, including of postdoc databases similar to our graduate fellowship database.

I understand your frustration at wanting to find something sooner. You may want to speak with postdoctoral fellows in your program for advice on how they handled their search. (Were you able to attend Christine’s workshops on the postdoc search?)



Jan Allen
Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs