External Fellowships for PhD Students

National Fellowship Opportunities for PhD Students

The USC Graduate School provides a variety of resources to support PhD students seeking funding. Students are encouraged to explore opportunities through the USC Fellowships and Awards database. The Graduate School also coordinates an annual external fellowship boot camp and faculty-led proposal review clinics.

Students who receive one of a number of designated national awards may be eligible for stipend top offs from the Graduate School. Fellowships eligible for top offs are noted in the USC Fellowships and Awards database.

Staff in the Graduate School serve as coordinating officials for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the Ford Foundation’s Pre-Doctoral and Dissertation Completion Fellowships, the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, the U.S. Department of Education, Fulbright Hays Program, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships and the Josephine De Karman Fellowships.

PhD students applying for external fellowships that are “institutionally limited,” meaning that there is a limit placed on the number of students who can apply, or whose applications require the approval of a university official, should contact the Graduate School well in advance of any deadlines.

USC NSF Fellow Panthea Heydari talks about her research on action observation therapy and its impact for stroke patients
  • Boot Camp
  • Proposal Review Clinic
  • OnLine Fellowship Course

Fellowship Boot Camp

The Fellowship Boot Camp is a 10-day intensive writing workshop in which students complete an application for one of the following major national awards:
  • National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship Program
  • Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
  • Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans
While involved with the boot camp, participants receive a $1,000 stipend for housing and other expenses. Participants may also be eligible for a travel or research award of up to $1,000 if they submit a complete proposal to one of the identified fellowships. Boot camp attendees meet as a large group and in smaller, rotating fellowship-specific clusters. On most session days, lunch is provided for participants. Graduates of the boot camp have enthusiastically endorsed the program:
  • The boot camp “definitely helped me gear my essay towards a larger audience, which is particularly important since the review panel for my discipline may include scholars from other fields”
  • “I loved it and felt like because of the difference in discipline everyone had a unique perspective and advice so each reviewer’s comment was different instead of getting the same feedback over and over again”
  • “The most important things I learned during the boot camp were about addressing the broader impacts criterion of the NSF GRFP. I feel much more confident now about telling a story relating my experiences to the evaluation criteria”
Applications, including a recent CV and a rough draft of a 2 or 3 page personal statement are due to the graduate school in early June. The application is available here.

Fellowship Proposal Review Clinic

Each fall, the Graduate School organizes faculty-led proposal review clinics for PhD students who intend to apply for major national awards. Students provide a proposal draft to the Graduate School. The draft is then read by at least one faculty member and the student and faculty meet for about 30 minutes to discuss the draft and revisions that would strengthen the overall application. Information about the upcoming Proposal Review Clinic is posted annually in August.

OnLine Fellowship Course

The course provides an overview of the types of funding available to USC PhD students, introduces them to external fellowship opportunities and gives tips on proposal writing and editing. Students need a USC email to access the course through Blackboard. To join the Fellowship Course, please email us here and provide your USC email address.