List of Major US Fellowships for Astronomy Students

Procuring a fellowship can provide tremendous benefits for graduate students.  Typically, a fellowship will pay for your tuition and provide a stipend. It therefore acts as a replacement for TAs and RAs, funding your studies while also giving you a salary. In some cases, fellowships can also cover expenses such as student fees and the cost of health insurance. One of the greatest benefits, however, is that if you have your own source of funding you are free to work with an adviser regardless of their funding situation. Fellowships therefore grant students a large degree of academic freedom in addition to prestige.

A large number of fellowships are available for graduate students and soon-to-be-graduate students. Their availability varies dramatically from one country to the next and many universities offer smaller fellowships to entice and support qualified candidates. The table included below seeks to act as a “first-stop” for astronomy students in the US seeking fellowships, regardless of institution. Listed information includes

  • Name – The name of the fellowship as a hyperlink connected to the fellowship’s main page.
  • Eligibility – A description of which students (undergraduates, graduate students at the beginning of their program, graduate students at the end of their program, etc.) may apply.
  • Years of support – How many years is a student guaranteed funding if they receive this fellowship.
  • Citizenship requirements – Many fellowships that are federally funded are limited to US citizens. This field seeks to clarify that restriction for each fellowship.
  • Deadline – It’s never too early to look at fellowships! Most fellowships require applications in the fall with results announced in the spring. This field should give a vague idea of when each fellowship application is due.

The information provided in the table below is not meant to be exhaustive. Depending on your specific research, you may be eligible for other fellowships. Additionally, if you are seeking general financial support a countless number of scholarships (usually one time financial gifts) also exist for astronomy graduate students. Finally, it is worth noting that the specific details of some fellowships (stipend amounts, deadlines, etc.) can change from one year to the next. NASA also offers a large number of other fellowships that tend to vary from one year to the next. This list should serve as a helpful starting point, not as a definitive final say. However, this list can be updated as new fellowships are brought to the author’s attention.

The lists are split into two categories: general fellowships and fellowships that have been established specifically to encourage diversity in STEM. The latter set are often restricted to members of underrepresented groups or explicitly encourage them to apply. Within each category, the fellowships are sorted roughly according to which ones you can apply for the latest in your graduate career.

A similar (but older) article can be found at AstroBetter!

General fellowships

Name Eligibility Years of support Citizenship requirements Deadline
Hertz Foundation Fellowship Undergraduate seniors and first year graduate students (older graduate students may apply but it is extremely rare that they are selected) 5 US citizen or US permanent resident Fall
Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship Senior undergraduates, first year graduate students, students with M.S. degrees intending to receive PhDs from different institutions 4 US citizen or US permanent resident January
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Senior undergraduates, first or second year graduate students, graduate students whose studies were interrupted for two consecutive years 3 US citizen, US national, or US permanent resident October
National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Senior undergraduates, first or second year graduate students, recent M.S. degree recipients 3 US citizen or US national Variable, usually December
National Physical Science Consortium Graduate Fellowship Any graduate students at a participating university that are available for two summers of paid internship with an partnered employer 2-3, or up to 6 depending on the sponsoring employer US citizen November
Blue Waters Graduate Fellowship Graduate students in their second or later year 1 US citizen or US permanent resident February
NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Any students admitted to or already enrolled in a full-time Masters and/or Ph.D. program in the US 3 No citizenship requirements February

Fellowships designed to improve diversity in STEM

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Name Eligibility Years of support Citizenship requirements Deadline
National Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM) Consortium Fellowship Undergraduate seniors that are members of a set of under-represented groups in science. For this fellowship you must apply to at least 3 GEM Member Universities as part of the application process 1 year of full support, 4 years after of partial support US citizen or US permanent resident January
American Association of University Women International Fellowship Women pursuing full-time graduate studies in the US 1 (can be renewed for a second year) Only available to non-US citizens and non-US permanent residents December
Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans Undergraduate seniors, first or second year graduate students. Applicants must also be under 30 years old and be either immigrants or children of immigrants This fellowship provides a $90,000 fellowship regardless of the graduate program US citizen, in possession of a green card, or granted deferred action under DACA November
Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship Students enrolled in or planning to enroll in a PhD program with at least 3 years remaining until completion 3 (a 1 year dissertation fellowship is also available) U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. permanent residents, as well as individuals granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, political asylees, and refugees December
American Association of University Women American Fellowship Women graduate students in the final year of their dissertation 1 US citizen or US permanent resident November

Acknowledgements:

The author would like to express her sincere gratitude to her fellow graduate student Ryan Díaz-Pérez who created a similar document within the author’s department. That list was invaluable for creating this article.

About Avery Schiff

I am a PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder. My work involves simulating the atmosphere of the Sun so that I can do pathological things to the magnetic field lines and see what happens. If I'm not at the lab, I'm happiest at a climbing gym or a metal show.

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