Opportunity-Specific FAQs

Specific FAQs

    Artist Development Fellowships

    Q:   The fellowships are open to “all undergraduates,” but with an apparent preference for proposals from sophomores and juniors.  Does the selection committee have a real preference?

    A:    Yes.  Technically, the fellowships are open to all undergraduates, and they will almost always be awarded for projects that will be finished before a student graduates.  In practice, though, the selection committee recognizes that freshmen will usually have a harder time demonstrating some record of accomplishment in the arts and so will be usually be less viable candidates.  As a result, freshmen will probably have a harder time than others making a competitive argument.  At the same time, graduating seniors may actually finally be at a point in their development when the fellowship would help their artistic growth significantly.  As a result, graduating seniors may occasionally make competitive arguments.

    Q:   Can the fellowships be used to support senior thesis projects?

    A:    No.  Projects proposed have to constitute truly exceptional opportunities for personal artistic growth.  For this selection committee, a thesis-like commitment suggests that such an opportunity for artistic growth has probably already happened.  Similarly, proposals to continue or finish production of a thesis project in some more professional context will not be considered viable.

    Beinecke Scholarships

    Q:   How important is academic achievement?

    A:    Academic achievement at a very high level is incredibly important.  Candidates will ideally have excellent academic records—at least an A- GPA, if not better.  In practice, we’ve been told, the applicant pool at the final round is so accomplished that candidates can be ruled out simply for the presence of a few B+ grades on their transcripts.

    Q:   How important is financial need?

    A:    The program indicates that financial need during the scholarship period is required.  In practice, both with our selection committees and in the final round, candidates fare best when they are currently receiving financial aid at Harvard.  In borderline decisions, the degree of need has also been decisive.

    Q:   Are there preferred courses of study?

    A:    Currently, eligibility is limited to students proposing to attend graduate school in the arts, humanities, and social sciences (except neuroscience), but there are no preferences within these disciplines. 

    Alex G. Booth ’30 Fund Fellowships

    Q:   Will Booth Fellowships support projects in the U.S. as well as projects abroad?

    A:    Yes.  Technically, selection criteria simply state that candidates must demonstrate some purpose to their proposed travel that relates to their undergraduate concentration, and that projects may be carried out in the U.S. or abroad.  So far, selection committees have  preferred projects abroad, primarily to encourage new cultural experiences.

    Q:   The donors’ terms state that projects must relate to undergraduate concentration, but that no academic credit can be received for projects—what does this mean?

    A:    Selection committees expect to see connections between a recipient’s field of study and the proposed project, as well as sufficient academic preparation to derive a meaningful and thought-provoking experience from the project.  That said, the donors’ terms clearly prefer that no academic credit may attach to a project—in other words, thesis research and comparable projects will not ordinarily be considered.  Any number of other possible non-credit academic explorations might be.

    Carnegie Endowment Junior Fellowships

    Q:   Relatively speaking, how important are the essay and interview components of the application?

    A:    Both components are very important.  The Endowment expects Junior Fellows to hit the ground running as junior researchers in its Washington, D.C.-based think tank.  As such, their research and writing skills need to be quite sophisticated from the start—and the application essay is actually intended to elicit skills in analysis, logic, and written expression more than research ability.  Interviews here on campus and eventually at the Endowment are further designed to bring out strong verbal communication skills.

    Churchill Foundation Scholarships

    Q:   Why is the GRE required for the Churchill? 

    A:    The Churchill Foundation considers the GRE important in evaluating a candidate’s viability, even though Cambridge programs may not require the test.  National finalists in the U.S. must have strong academic records, GRE scores, and reasons for proposing advanced study at Cambridge.  This requirement also anticipates an expectation that more and more Cambridge programs will eventually require the GRE themselves.

    Mack I. Davis II/Harvard College Awards

    Q:   What does the selection committee really look for?

    A:    The best guidance here comes from the award’s description (see "Nominating for Prizes") .  That said, this description may seem a little vague.  While the purpose of the award is to provide students in financial need with an enriching experience of their own design that would not otherwise be possible, family members on the selection committee over the years have repeatedly emphasized the importance of certain personal qualities.  Recipients have always been active in some aspect of serving others, often in arenas that value cultural diversity.  Mack’s family and friends describe him as a “people person,” someone who made people laugh and feel better about themselves, someone who valued people who weren’t obvious “winners.”  Students should try to show some of these qualities in their statements, and House letters should touch upon them, too.

    Q:   How important is financial need in the selection criteria?

    A:    Financial need is an important consideration, since the award is designed to support activities that might not otherwise be financially possible.  HFAs can get a relative sense of financial need from the Financial Aid Office.  “Significant” need is mentioned in the award description, but at some point this is a relative term and is always considered in combination with other qualities.

    Echoing Green Foundation Public Service Fellowships

    There is no longer a University nomination phase in Echoing Green’s fellowship program.  Interested students who are over 18 and able to commit two years to an innovative public service project may learn more about the program and the Foundation’s web site, www.echoinggreen.org.

    Eben Fiske Scholarship at Trinity College

    Q:   Must the candidate’s proposed degree program be a doctoral program?

    A:    No.  Doctoral degrees proposals may receive some preference, but any proposal for an advanced, multi-year degree will be considered.  One-year programs are absolutely not acceptable, however.  Past academic performance and future promise are among the most important selection criteria.

    Fitzie Prize

    Q:   What is the relative weight of the different selection criteria?

    A:    According to the award description (see "Nominating for Prizes"), the Fitzie Prize really does seek to honor junior women who have a wide, well-rounded range of achievements, as well as personal qualities that enrich their communities and inspire others.  Recent selection decisions suggest that academic achievement are assuming a slightly larger place in the spectrum of qualities committees have been looking for. 

    Q:   When may a House nominate a senior for this award?

    A:    The award really is for a junior woman each year.  While the Trustees do indicate they will occasionally consider senior nominees, this is a very rare exception.  If you feel you have a senior woman who got overlooked as a junior, or if you have a senior who has transferred into your House and really made a difference, you might consider this option.  If you do end up having senior in mind to nominate, please give the Fellowships Office a call, and we’ll talk over the option with you.

    Fulbright Grants

    Please refer initial Fulbright questions to the Fulbright web site at us.fulbrightonline.org/home.html.  Most questions can be answered on the web site, but the program is too large, and it changes too much from year to year, for us to suggest any kind of meaningful triage by HFAs.

    George Peabody Gardner Fellowships

    Q:   With no concentration restrictions, do proposals have to have an artistic or aesthetic element?

    A:    No.  The main purpose is to support a year of purposeful travel through cultural immersion.  While committees may look favorably on artistic projects for historical reasons, they are not required.

    Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships

    Q:   Are pre-medical students eligible?

    A:    No.  The Goldwater program provides support for students in the natural and applied sciences broadly, but specifically excludes candidates for an M.D.  The only exceptions made are for candidates proposing an M.D. in conjunction with a Ph.D. or other advanced degree who profess no interest in practicing medicine. 

    Q:   How does advanced standing affect a student’s eligibility?

    A:    Students must be current sophomores or juniors to apply for the Goldwater.  The Foundation defines sophomore as “a student who plans two more years of full-time undergraduate study beginning September 2009.”  Similarly, a junior is “a student who plans one more year of full-time undergraduate study beginning September 2009.”  With Harvard’s new rules for advanced standing in place, students who accept advanced standing will likely lose a year of eligibility unless they choose to remain for a four-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree.

    Harvard Clubs Summer Community Service Fellowships

    Since the 2002-2003 academic year, this program has been coordinated through the Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC) at Phillips Brooks House.  For additional information and application instructions, contact CPIC at 496-8622, or visit the CPIC web site at www.cpic.fas.harvard.edu.

    Harvard-Cambridge Scholarships

    Q:   What are the most important selection criteria?

    A:    This is difficult to answer definitively, but two general themes seem very important.  One is great enthusiasm for the experience of an unfettered year at one of the world’s great universities.  The other is a willingness to adventure or take risks.  Students do well to imagine the year as a fantasy fifth year of college with no worries about expenses or academic requirements—virtually any proposal that can address these themes at Cambridge is viable.  Be sure to read the annual mailing from the selection committee to the Houses each fall.

    Q:   Are serious scholars at a disadvantage?

    A:    Not necessarily.  Many have been chosen, but they must convey the above themes.  This fellowship is not simply for a year of study, but for a year of total experience and exploration.  Serious scholars can satisfy that expectation, but they may have to work at it.

    Henry/Knox/Smith (non-science)/von Clemm/Williams Fellowships

    Q:   Are there degree preferences for any of these fellowships? 

    A:    Paul Williams recipients must be studying international government or public affairs, and Herchel Smith recipients must be studying a non-science, but otherwise, there is no preference for type of degree or field of study. The proposed course of study must make sound intellectual sense for the candidate, and it should be feasible within the time designated for the degree course.  In practice, this opens an array of one-year Master’s degree programs, as well as various certificate and diploma courses, to all fellowship candidates.  Only the Smith (non-science) can be used for up to three years of study, and therefore support multi-year courses.

    Q:   For the Paul Williams, what is meant by “the fields of international government and public affairs”?

    A:    The proposed field of study must have an international government flavor.  In practice, this may include things like international economic policy, international law, historical study of foreign relations, or some comparative study of two or more countries—as well as the obvious fields of international government and international relations.

    Laura Houghteling Memorial Fellowships

    Q:   Is there a preference for public vs. private school teaching, or elementary vs. secondary?

    A:    There is a slight preference in both cases.  Committees have shown preference for public school teaching as a profession, at least in the short term.  There is also a preference for elementary school teaching, though this consideration depends upon the applicant pool.  A strong commitment to teaching generally remains the strongest consideration.

    Keasbey Fellowships

    Q:   When does Harvard participate in the Keasbey competition?

    A:    Harvard is invited to nominate Keasbey finalists every three years, or in the final year of tenure for the previous Harvard winner.  Harvard has been invited to compete for the 2014-2015 school year.

    William Lyon Mackenzie King Harvard Scholarship

    Q:   What does “a specifically Canadian field” mean?

    A:    The Mackenzie King no longer requires that applicants study a field that is uniquely Canadian, although such proposals are especially welcome.

    Q:   How much does the scholarship actually award?

    A:    Currently, the value of the award is about $3,000 to $4,000 Canadian.  In practice, a recipient will have to arrange significant external funding to pursue the course of study indicated.

    Luce Scholarships

    Undergraduate competition for the Luce Scholarships is now coordinated through the Committee on General Scholarships (CGS).  For additional information and application instructions, contact CGS at cgs@fas.harvard.edu, or seewww.scholarship.harvard.edu/tf/tffindex.html#luce

    Marshall Scholarships Endorsements

    Q:   May a candidate exclude first-year grades in calculating GPA?

    A:    No.  The Marshall Programme is quite clear about this:  the GPA calculation is now cumulative and must include first-year grades.

    Q:   How strict is the 3.7 GPA requirement?

    A:    This requirement is very strict.  Candidates may notice that 3.7 is actually higher than we calculate an A- at Harvard, but 3.7 is the number the Marshall program uses nationally, and students may not round up at their convenience.  A studentmay make a case if he or she is very close, but even a 3.69 GPA offers no guarantee of success.  In reality, though, the average GPA of endorsed candidates today is above 3.8.

    Q:   Candidates may designate only one of the Cambridge/London School of Economics/Oxford group in their two university programs—is this strict?

    A:    Yes.  Literally the only exceptions allowed are situations in which the only two programs in the United Kingdom are from within the three schools.  If this is indeed the case, candidates must make it explicitly clear in their study proposal.  Failure to observe this rule gives Harvard’s endorsement committee grounds to deny endorsement.

    Q:   How important is the second choice university?

    A:    Students may make it very clear in their statements that they have a top choice university program, but according the Marshall Commission, researching a viable second choice program is essential.  Not only can the Commission not guarantee placement, but it also expects students to be enthusiastic about education in the U.K. and to have identified programs that are very well suited to them.

    Q:   May students designate more than one school for a two-year course of study?

    A:    Yes.  The Rules for Candidates don’t make this explicitly clear, but the application form clearly allows students to indicate one university for the first year, and another university for the second year.  While such choices may be a little unusual, as long as there’s a clear theme to the overall plan of study, they are in fact viable.  (The same rule of thumb holds for two back-to-back one-year programs in the same school.)

    Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Public Service Fellowships

    Q:   Are summer projects viable?

    A:    Technically, yes.  Historically, selection committee members have favored projects lasting at least four months if not longer, and have only made very rare exceptions.  In practice, students proposing summer projects will be directed to apply for the “Summer Public Service Grants” pool of funds—which are now partially supported by the Pforzheimer fund.

    Q:   Can a student use Pforzheimer money in addition to other money?

    A:    Yes.  Provided it’s clear that Pforzheimer money is seed money, committees have no problem seeing funds used in conjunction with those from other sources.  Pforzheimer funds will not be disbursed, however, if adequate funding to sustain a project has already been secured from another source. 

    Rhodes Scholarships Endorsements

    Q:   With no grade cut-off specified nationally, what GPA does Harvard look for?

    A:    Harvard’s endorsement committee looks for a cumulative GPA of 3.6 or better, and, failing that, some extraordinary quality, accomplishment, or commitment.  Our committee has been sensitive to trends of improvement, or success in difficult courses, or personal situations that may have affected performance.  In reality, though, the average GPA of endorsed candidates today is over 3.8.

    Q:   How do we interpret the requirement for “physical vigor”?

    A:    If you keep to the Classical notion of “a healthy mind in a healthy body,” you’ll have the general idea of how this requirement is interpreted.  Participation on varsity or other team sports is not expected, but some evidence of active concern for one’s physical health is essential.  In practice, this will need to be something quite a bit more than walking to and from classes each day.

    Q:   How detailed must the plan of study be? 

    A:    The plan of study is integrated into the personal statement and must simply make a cogent argument for pursuing a degree at Oxford.  Too little detail about a study plan can hurt a candidate, but so can too much.  This is to be a “connected” essay—the case for why Oxford is suitable for the candidate has to be made well, but as a piece of a larger story.

    Q:   Can a student really propose just a one-year course of study?

    A:    Yes.  Since the 2004-2005 academic year, a simple one-year course of study has been a viable option.  It’s neither a preferred option nor an option to be entertained only in exceptional circumstances.  If a one-year program is what a student prefers, this is what a student should propose.

    Q:   If we have a Rhodes candidate from somewhere other than the U.S. or Canada who’s seeking endorsement, what should we do?

    A:    Call the Fellowships Office as soon as you know.  We have a current list of overseas Rhodes Trust Secretaries, and many of their deadlines fall before ours.  We have several precedents and procedures in place for rendering endorsement decisions in advance of the main deadline.

    Richardson Public Service Fellowships

    Q:   Can a student do more than one project as a Richardson Fellow?

    A:    Yes, and this is a great feature of the fellowship.  While an applicant can propose work with a single organization during the year, it is also fair to propose a series of experiences that relate to or illustrate a larger theme.  The fellowship has supported proposals of each type over the years.

    Q:   Must the project proposed be policy-oriented?

    A:    Not necessarily.  The donors’ hope is to support experiences that will allow recipients to become more intellectually and practically informed about an issue and/or an organization, ideally in order to contribute to policy-making in the future.  But the project itself does not have to be policy-oriented.

    Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowships

    Q:   Must travel be outside the U.S.?

    A:    The donor’s intent is to offer an immersion experience in a new culture, which ordinarily eliminates the U.S. and the student’s home country, if other than the U.S.  If a proposal is for travel in the U.S., it must be clear that the culture to be explored is truly foreign.  In practice, this is a very difficult argument.  Selection committees have occasionally considered such proposals, but all Rockefeller fellows actually chosen have pursued projects outside the U.S. and its possessions.

    Q:   How many countries are usually allowed in the travel proposal?

    A:    Selection committees expect the Rockefeller experience to be one of deep immersion in a culture other than the candidate’s own.  Committees therefore tend to prefer single-country proposals, but may occasionally consider two- or three-country proposals, provided candidates can establish strong cultural similarities among the countries or among communities within the countries.

    Q:   May candidates return to the U.S. for job or graduate school interviews?

    A:    The selection committee strongly advises against return visits home, except in emergencies.  Job and graduate school interviews are not emergencies.  The expectation is for an experience of deep and prolonged immersion in a new culture, and committees continually interpret “prolonged immersion” literally as an uninterrupted calendar year.

    Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships

    Candidates should refer all questions about the Rotary Scholarships, their eligibility, and local availability to their local Rotary Club.  Students can call directory assistance in their home community, or the local Chamber of Commerce, to obtain local addresses and telephone numbers, or they can use Rotary’s on-line Club locator atwww.rotary.org/en/AboutUs/SiteTools/ClubLocator/Pages/ridefault.aspx

    St. Andrew’s Society Graduate Scholarships

    Q:   How strict is the requirement for Scottish ancestry?

    A:    It’s strict, but candidates are only asked to establish their claim of Scots descent in prose form.  The program leaves precise definitions fairly vague, but some legitimate claim of Scottish descent is critical.  The St. Andrew’s Society is a genealogical organization, however, with extensive resources.

    Henry Russell Shaw Fellowships

    Q:   What does “Europe” include in the terms of the fellowship?

    A:    Selection committees consider Europe to consist of all member nations in the European Union (and new member nations as they develop), as well as the European continent.  Selection committees have also considered the European continent to extend east to the Ural Mountains.

    Frederick Sheldon Prize Fellowships

    Q:   Do nominees really have to have a cumulative GPA of 3.47 or better on a 4-point scale?

    A:    Yes, and it is taken literally, based on the old requirement of a Harvard GPA of 13.0 or better on a 15-point scale.  Rounding up to satisfy this requirement will not likely be convincing to selection committee members, who have always interpreted the requirement strictly. 

    Herchel Smith Harvard Postgraduate Scholarships

    Q:   Are proposals in the history or philosophy of science viable?

    A:    No.  These scholarships support advanced study in the research-based natural, physical, and applied sciences.  History and philosophy of science are specifically prohibited.  (One Herchel Smith Harvard Postgraduate Scholarship is set aside each year for non-scientific study at Cambridge, and is awarded by the Henry/Knox/Smith (non-science)/von Clemm Fellowships selection committee.)

    Q:   Must the course of study be pre-doctoral?

    A:    The donor’s wish is that the study undertaken in Cambridge be pre-doctoral.  Committees have interpreted this fairly broadly, as long as the candidate’s intent is to enter a doctoral program (in the U.S., U.K., or elsewhere) in the not-too-distant future.  In this sense, the course of study may be “pre-doctoral” in the sense of laying important groundwork for further graduate study.

    Harry S. Truman Scholarships

    Q:   Are any graduate degrees given priority?

    A:    In evaluating nominees, Truman selection committees assign points in several categories to determine finalists for interviews.  Candidates receive points for designating a J.D., M.P.A., M.P.P., M.S.W., or M.P.H. degree; a master’s or Ph.D. degree in public service fields (e.g., education, government, or economics); or joint master’s and Ph.D. or J.D. degrees in such fields.  Candidates designating any other degree (e.g., a simple M.D.) receive no points in this category.  The choice of degree, and desired career path, must clearly point to a career serving the public interest

    Q:     How does advanced standing affect a student’s eligibility?

    A:      Students must be juniors (or seniors, in exceptional circumstance determined each year by state of residence) to apply for the Truman.  The Foundation defines junior as a “student who plans to continue full-time undergraduate study and who expects to receive a baccalaureate degree between December 2010 and August 2011, or a student in his or her second or third year of collegiate study who expects to graduate during the 2009-2010 academic year, or a senior-level student who is a resident of Puerto Rico or the Islands.”  With Harvard’s new rules for advanced standing in place, students who accept advanced standing will likely lose their eligibility unless they choose to remain for a four-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree.

    Q:     What is meant by “a career in public service”?

    A:     The Truman Foundation defines “public service” as “employment in government at any level, uniformed services, public interest organizations, nongovernmental research and/or educational organizations, public and private schools, and public service oriented nonprofit organizations such as those whose primary purposes are to help needy or disadvantaged persons or to protect the environment.” 

    Q:     If a student wins a Truman, can he or she defer the graduate phase of the scholarship?

    A:     Yes.  The Foundation has parameters in which students can defer this graduate study for up to four years.  They include exceptions such as taking up a Fulbright, Marshall, or Rhodes Scholarship, and working for the Peace Corps or Teach for America.  Scholars will have to negotiation other exceptions with the Foundation.

    Benjamin A. Trustman Fellowships

    Q:   How important is a public service component in recipients’ projects?

    A:    While many recipients incorporate a community service component in their travel projects, this is not a requirement or an expectation.  The donor did hope that recipients would make important long-term contributions to society, but this was a hope for an eventual career path rather than some fellowship-specific project.  As with other traveling fellowships, the single most important criterion is for a meaningful, enriching experience abroad that will somehow be formative for the recipient.

    Morris K. Udall Scholarships

    Q:   If we have a candidate for the “tribal public policy” track, must that policy be related to the environment or to health fields?

    A:    No.  “Tribal public policy” may include any aspect of tribal governance.

    Q:   How strict is the “environmental public policy” track?

    A:    A recent communication from the Foundation indicates that they have broadened their horizons on what environmental public policy encompasses:  “It is not necessary for students to be interested in pursuing studies or a career in policy to apply for our scholarships.  While it definitely wouldn’t hurt, we are also looking for students in a variety of fields, including natural and social sciences.  Over the past few years, we have had … recipients studying environmental journalism, zoology, natural resource management, conservation biology, environmental engineering, chemical engineering, landscape architecture, urban planning, geology, geography, anthropology, etc.  We even have scholars majoring in environmental theater and environmental art.”

    Q:   How does advanced standing affect a student’s eligibility?

    A:    Students must be current sophomores or juniors to apply for the Udall.  The Foundation defines sophomore as “a student who plans two more years of full-time undergraduate study beginning the next academic year.”  Similarly, a junior is “a student who plans one more year of full-time undergraduate study beginning the next academic year.”  Moreover, the Foundations states, “Only undergraduate sophomores and juniors may be nominated.  Graduating seniors and first-year undergraduates (regardless of number of credits) are not eligible.”  With Harvard’s new rules for advanced standing in place, students who accept advanced standing will likely lose a year of eligibility unless they choose to remain for a four-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree.

    Williams-Lodge Scholarship to the Sorbonne

    Competition for the Williams-Lodge Scholarship to the Sorbonne is now coordinated through the Committee on General Scholarships (CGS).  For additional information and application instructions, contact CGS at cgs@fas.harvard.edu, or seewww.scholarship.harvard.edu/tf/ffunds.html