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  • Grad School 101: How to Find Fellowships That Are Right for You

    Let’s talk funding.

    Maybe you've heard someone say, “There’s a lot of money out there, you just have to look for it,” and thought to yourself, "Great, but where do I look?" Don't worry - we've got you. Our brand new Fellowship Finder database is now live. It showcases over 1,100 fellowship and grant opportunities that help students fund their graduate studies, and it features a new search process, with lots of options to make your search quicker and more precise.

    Fellowship Finder specializes in awards offered by external funders: government agencies, private foundations, corporations, and other entities outside of the university. We also include a handful of campus opportunities such as those offered by the Graduate College. Best of all, Fellowship Finder is a curated database, meaning that real people (we here in the Office of External Fellowships) make sure that the listings we include are truly useful to graduate students.

    How does the database work? Let’s take a look.

  • The Art of Proposal Writing: Proposal as Roadmap

    In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the proposal as a genre — the story of your journey into uncharted intellectual territory, driven by a vision of your contribution to your discipline and beyond. Your reviewers are excited! They want to help you complete your journey! But, they want some details. The proposal is the roadmap you provide.

    There is no right or wrong way to structure a proposal. There may be disciplinary norms or funder guidelines, which is why it is essential to look at successful proposals in your discipline and read the program solicitation carefully.  Regardless of the structure, there are some commonalities in proposals across all disciplines and funders. Here are some tips for putting together a good roadmap for the reviewers...

  • The Art of Proposal Writing: Proposal as Genre

    Mystery and suspense, a hero going on a quest…why am I talking about this in a blog post about proposal writing?  Because when you write about your research, you’re writing a story of ideas that explores uncharted intellectual territory. As you’ve developed your skills and knowledge of the field, you’ve identified a gap in what we know and a means by which you believe you can fill it. That’s what makes proposal writing a special genre.

  • Applying for Fellowships: Telling the "Story of You"

    When applying for fellowships, you may be asked to provide a personal statement, professional goals statement, or something similar.

    A personal statement gives you an opportunity to elaborate on and offer context for information contained in other documents, such as a résumé, CV, research statement, or letters of reference. It gives you a chance to write the story of you:  experiences that have motivated you, people who have inspired you, ideas you’ve pursued, and choices you’ve made. I’ll offer some strategies for approaching these kinds of statements, but first are some suggestions for what to avoid.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Ford Fellows on Campus

    To increase diversity in higher education, the Ford Foundation offers predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral fellowships. The goal is three-fold – increasing university’s ethnic and racial diversity, maximizing the educational benefits of diversity, and increasing the number of professors who use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

    We talked to three University of Illinois graduate students from across campus who received a Ford Fellowship to learn more about the program.

  • Letters of Reference for Fellowship Applications

    “Applications must include three letters of reference…”

    If you’re applying for graduate research fellowships and grants, you will likely find something along these lines in the application instructions. These letters are absolutely critical to the success of your application, yet you have no control over them — or do you?

    There is no “one-size-fits-all” set of guidelines on this topic. Letters of reference are by their very nature highly personal. Ways of building relationships will also vary according to discipline, the nature of the research, and the applicant’s career goal. That’s why it’s essential to get advice from your advisor and talk with other students in your program about their own successful strategies. However, there are a few overarching points to consider.

  • Get an Early Start on this Year's Fellowship Applications

    Are you thinking of applying for an external fellowship or grant this fall? If so, summer is a great time to strengthen your application’s foundation. There are many things you can do over the summer to give yourself an all-important competitive edge.   

  • Meet Our Fellows: Nubras Samayeen, American Association of University Women

    When she finishes her degree at Illinois, Nubras Samayeen may be the first woman in Bangladesh to hold a PhD in Landscape Architecture. This is the realization of a goal she's had since she was a child and is, in no small part, something she's doing for her own two young daughters and for other Bangladeshi women who, like her, have unconventional dreams. Here’s her story.

  • Grad School 101 – Funding Graduate School

    Graduate school is one of the most important investments in your future you can make, To ensure that you invest wisely, it's essential thatyou identify your main expenses, as well as develop a funding plan and a budget. Think of this as planting the seeds for a successful financial future in graduate school. It’s important to start thinking about these financial questions early and to seek out University resources that can help answer your questions.  

  • Finding Funding Opportunities: Insights from a Current PhD Student

    Funding is one of the biggest factors in determining what kind of financial decisions you make as a graduate student. Taking on federal student loans, using your employment to fund your degree, using your savings, getting help from family members, etc. We all want to make decisions that will benefit us most - and while the above are all good options depending on your individual situation, nothing beats “free money” like fellowships, assistantships, grants and scholarships. As a former fourth time Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Fellowship recipient, current Illinois Distinguished Fellow, and Graduate Assistant, I have searched and applied for many funding opportunities during my college career. It is a long but worthy process. Below are six tips on how to find and secure funding.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Matt Haugen, Fulbright Fellow studying Chinese Sport Industry

    Last April, after nearly a yearlong process and an arduous wait, Matthew Haugen was notified that he had been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, which would allow him the opportunity to complete his dissertation research project studying sport education in China. His fellowship experience ultimately encouraged him to pivot his dissertation research project to better represent and inform the future he sees for himself as a scholar.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Safiyah Muhammad, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow

    Ford Fellow Safiyah Muhammad says that she learned to teach from the best – her mom. Her mother homeschooled her before she was old enough to enroll in kindergarten and served as her fourth grade teacher as well. “She never limited me in what I could do. She never told me I was too young. She was my very first and obviously most impactful teacher,” Safiyah said. With the help of the Ford Fellowship, she hopes to channel that feeling into her work as a researcher, teacher, and scholar at Illinois.

  • Sloan UCEM at Illinois Helps Underrepresented Students Pursue Advanced Degrees and Career Paths

    “Illinois is committed to the goal of achieving diversity and excellence,” says Dr. Ellen Wang Althaus, director of Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM). 

    The Sloan UCEM at Illinois is one of the eight centers in the country funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. With a one-million-dollar, three-year grant, the Illinois UCEM was created to broaden participation and provide support for underrepresented minority graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. It  provides activities designed to support students toward doctorate completion, such as professional development opportunities, mentoring, research opportunities, workshops, and seminars. 

  • Postcards from the Field: Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore

    Excite, engage, enable. These three words are the driving mission behind the gathering of over 250 PhD and postdoctoral fellows at the Global Young Scientists Summit of 2017 in Singapore. Eric Epstein, Shama Barna, Gregory Hart and I had the distinct pleasure of representing the University of Illinois at this year’s summit.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Daniel Raudabaugh, Schmidt Science Fellow

    It’s not every day you get to name a new species of fungi, but Daniel Raudabaugh (PhD Plant Biology, 2019) named two during his time as a graduate student at Illinois. Hongkongmyces snookiorum, named to honor his grandparents who let him collect on their land for his pilot study, and Coniella lustricola, Latin for “bog-loving.”