Loyola University Maryland

National Fellowships

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between a scholarship and a fellowship?

This can be confusing because the two terms are often used synonymously. In general, a scholarship is money given to you to help pay for graduate or undergraduate studies. A fellowship is generally given to underwrite the cost of a particular project. This may include either graduate or undergraduate studies but it may also support the cost of independent research, travel, materials, and certain other privileges as defined by the funding organization.

What is the "Intent to Apply Form?"

The Intent to Apply form tells the fellowships office that you intend to apply for a particular award. This allows us to give you suggestions on how to start your application, revise your essays, and helps us keep you informed about similar scholarships. An Intent to Apply form is not needed for most scholarships. However, given the competitive nature of national scholarships the help of the NFO may be invaluable to you, so filing the form is to your advantage. There are a few scholarships where registration is mandatory. In most cases, this is either because the organization or foundation offering the scholarship requires a letter of endorsement from a senior academic officer or because Loyola can only nominate a select number of students. We can’t nominate you if we don’t know who you are.

Chemistry Student Working

What is an endorsement? Why do I need one?

All scholarships and fellowships have eligibility requirements. These standards might include GPA, class year, major, leadership experience, letters of recommendation, etc. However, some organizations also want to know what Loyola’s senior academic officers (the president, the dean, etc.) think of you. This is often called an endorsement, a nomination, or a letter of support. The purpose of this is to establish the seriousness and merit of an applicant and to provide the funding organization with another measure of the applicant’s suitability for any one particular award.

How do I figure out which opportunity to apply for?

You should start by thinking about who you are and how you want to grow. At the heart of things, a fellowship or scholarship is an opportunity for you to engage in critical reflection about a problem or question that matters to you. Finding the answers (or even more questions) might take you overseas, or into the laboratory, or into the archives of a museum. Once you have thought about your goals then you can find a match from among the many organizations who are concerned about the same or similar concerns. Thinking about social engagement? The Truman Scholarship with its focus on government or public service might be best for you. Is study with a leading research university in the U.K. on your list? If so the Marshall, the Mitchell, or the Rhodes might be the direction to investigate. The NFO can help you explore what might be best for you.

Elementary Education Student

What do fellowship applications require?

No two applications are exactly the same; the only consistent factor is to expect the funding organization to search for the very best candidates. This does not necessarily mean the candidates with the highest GPA’s. In fact, while grades matter, funders want to know what others think about you (letters of reference) and how clearly you can articulate a research plan (the personal statement and essays). In addition, you might be asked to come for an interview or to a video teleconference with the judges. In the end, what matters is to show that you have a distinct and well crafted idea that complements the mission of the scholarship or fellowship provider.

How can I get strong letters of recommendation? Who should I ask?

Strong letters of recommendation are essential, and academic references are always critical. In general, you should consider your advisor, a professor with whom you have had multiple classes, a professor whose research interests match yours, or a person who is a leader in your field. References from internships, summer jobs, and a supervisor from a service project are also good to include depending upon the type of award you are pursuing. In all cases, recommenders need to be people who know you well and can include detail about you that is not obvious by a glance at the front matter of your application. See a worksheet on getting strong letters of recommendation.

Student Studying on the Quad

How can I improve my personal statement or essays?

The best personal statements and essays are written, rewritten, torn up, and written again. It is not uncommon for winners of awards to say that they wrote six, eight, or a dozen drafts. What matters is how clearly you express your intellectual curiosity, your passion about your ideas, your humility, and your determination. The fellowships office will help you with your drafts by providing editing suggestions.

What are the chances of winning?

No one can tell you this with any real certainty. Some funders publish statistics from previous years and this can be a guide to your relative chances. But in the end, you should not be persuaded or deterred by these numbers. The formula for success is the same: hard work, an undaunted spirit, originality and creativity, strong letters of recommendations and clear, persuasive essays.

Student at the Library

What if I don’t win?

Being nominated by the University is an accomplishment in itself. Even if you do not win, you will have tested your limits, recognized your strengths, and learned a great deal about yourself and your interests along the way. Most applicants claim they are very satisfied with their decision to apply for a fellowship regardless of the outcome.

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