Get Started

Welcome to the exciting world of fellowships! “Getting Started” is designed to provide information on:

  • the role of USC Academic Honors and Fellowships
  • the types of awards offered to USC undergraduate students and recent alumni
  • suggested activities and engagement based on your year to help prepare you for fellowship applications
  • tips for finding the right opportunities

Academic Honors and Fellowships Explained

What do we do?

Our staff works with undergraduate students and recent alumni applying for competitive honors and awards. We also advise USC Trustee, Presidential, Mork and Stamps merit scholars on scholarship benefits and policies, and work with the Trojan Scholar Society (TSS) student organization for merit scholars. In addition, our office oversees Renaissance, Global, and Discovery Scholar Distinctions for graduating seniors. View Research and Fellowships 101 from 2017 Research and Fellowships Week for more general overview of our office. Many awards and fellowships include a nomination or endorsement process facilitated by USC.

What are USC Awards vs. External Fellowships?

USC Awards encompass various USC-sponsored opportunities to financially support undergraduate students in their pursuit of interdisciplinary study, global exchange, and civic engagement. External Fellowships are nationally and internationally competitive and administered by outside institutions, organizations, or foundations.  In addition to the 19 fellowships our we offer advising for, the Awards and Fellowships Database is designed to offer an easy way for interested students and alumni to search available fellowship opportunities.

What is a fellowship?

Fellowships are funding for graduate school, internships, study abroad, and other learning opportunities in the U.S. and around the world. A fellowship goes beyond study abroad in that applicants must demonstrate a strong interest and preparation for research and/or study in a specific field in the U.S. or abroad.

Who should apply for awards and fellowships?

There are a wide range of opportunities for current students, recent graduates, and alumni. External fellowships have different requirements based on GPA, area of study, academic standing, language proficiency, etc. For the most part, we are looking for students who are well-rounded and who have demonstrated a commitment to academics and extracurricular involvement.

What level of research experience is needed?

While prior individual research or research under a professor can make an applicant a stronger candidate for a fellowship, many fellowships do not require a research background. Required submission of a research proposal varies by fellowship. If you are submitting research, it is important that you have a good understanding of your selected topic before applying; however, this does not necessarily mean you must limit yourself to topics within your major.

When should a student start looking for funding opportunities?

It is never too early to begin researching various awards and fellowships because many of the processes require significant time, energy, and support. Follow the suggested timeline through first, second, third, and fourth year as well as post graduate for a quick look at recommended preparation and awards applications to consider.

Interested in applying?

  1. Download our Fellowship Exploration Guide for guided reflection on best-fit fellowship themes based on your interests and goals.
  2. See the Year By Year timeline for suggested activities and considerations for your first, second, third, and fourth year as well as post-graduate. Graduate students interested in fellowships should visit the USC Graduate School.
  3. Browse fellowship opportunities based on specific area of interest or study as well as USC-specific awards. Utilize the Awards and Fellowships Database for an expanded list of over 200 opportunities.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the award details, eligibility requirements, and application process for any programs of interest.
  5. After exploring our online materials and/or attending a Fellowship Friday event, visit the Schedule an Appointment page for additional resources and to request a meeting with an advisor.

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