Undergraduate students with strong academic records and an interest in MS or PhD degrees typically apply during the senior year for prestigious national fellowships that provide $100,000 or more in financial support for further schooling in graduate school. Fellowships provide support for graduate school and are different from scholarships that support undergraduate education. Winning a prestigious national fellowship is one of the highest marks of distinction that a BYU student can achieve, and paves the way to a wide range of opportunities as a leader in the field of science and technology.
Here are things that students can do at various levels in the program to follow a trajectory that leads to success in applying for and obtaining a graduate fellowship:
Consider becoming involved in the BYU Honors Program as a way to gain enriching experiences that will prepare you to win a prestigious fellowship.
Strong academic performance is essential. Cumulative GPAs in the range of 3.5 to 3.8 or higher are required to be competitive for most fellowships.
Become involved in undergraduate research. This helps in two ways: research experience is invaluable in preparing the research plan that is required for most fellowship applications, and it helps you build a relationship with a faculty mentor who can help you with your application. Students can learn about undergraduate research experiences by talking with professors or by contacting the department Fellowship Coordinator, Prof. Karl Warnick, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application deadlines for many fellowships are in November. In the summer before the Fall semester of your senior year, obtain detailed application and deadline information for fellowships that you can apply for (see below for a list). With the help of a faculty mentor, prepare applications for any of the fellowships you are interested in. Once you have prepared one application, applying for additional fellowships is much easier.
Honors@ece holds information meetings each year to help students learn about these opportunities. See the Honors@ece main page for times and dates.
Fellowships to Apply For
Common fellowships for engineering students include:
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
- National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship
- NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship
There are 20-30 others that are also available, including other science and technology targeted fellowships, as well as general fellowships such as Marshall, Rhodes, and Fullbright. Some fellowships are extremely competitive and only award 10-15 per year, whereas others like the NSF GRFP are still competitive yet as many as 20% of students who apply can receive funding.
Letters of recommendation are critical parts of most successful fellowship applications and have a major impact on the likelihood of receiving the award. Recommendation letters must be well written and provide solid evidence that the student is qualified for the fellowship. Students should develop relationships with faculty during the Sophomore or Junior year, so that the faculty recommenders can write strong letters. When requesting letters of recommendation, students should provide faculty with at least 2-3 weeks of advance notice, a resume, and a transcript or list of classes. Some faculty also request that the student write a draft of his or her ideal letter of recommendation, including relevant information on the student's academic record and experience. Make sure the recommender is aware of the submission deadline. Additional information for students and faculty letter writers can be found here: