Scholarships and Fellowships

Perhaps the most obvious source for scholarships is the Rutgers physics department itself, which offers several awards to undergraduates. However, there isn’t too much to say about these since you can’t apply for them. If you have been working hard on your classes and research, you might get an email in the spring informing you that you’ve won a scholarship. That’s all there is to it!

To apply for many of the most prestigious scholarships and fellowships, you must first be nominated by the Rutgers Office of Distinguished Fellowships. If you are interested in any of these, contact someone at the Fellowship Office and try to arrange a meeting. They will give you all the advice and information you will need. There is an extensive list of scholarships and fellowships on the Fellowship Office website, but I’ll give you some information about the ones most useful to a physics major here. Keep in mind that you’ll need a variety of letters for these: Rhodes requires five to eight, and Gates requires a personality reference.

  1. Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship: For sophomores and juniors. Deadline in mid-January. Reward: cash.
  2. Churchill Scholarship: For seniors. Cambridge application deadline in mid-October, scholarship deadline in early Novemember. Reward: Master’s degree at Cambridge.
  3. Fulbright Program: For seniors. Deadline in mid-October. Reward: Research grant or English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in a foreign country.
  4. Gates Cambridge Scholarship: For seniors. Deadline in mid-October as part of the Cambridge application. Reward: Master’s degree at Cambridge.
  5. Marshall Scholarship: For seniors. Deadline in early October. Reward: Master’s degree at UK institution of your choice.
  6. Mitchell Scholarship: For seniors. Deadline in early October. Reward: Master’s degree at Irish institution of your choice.
  7. Rhodes Scholarship: For seniors. Deadline in early October. Reward: Master’s degree or Ph.D. at Oxford.

(There are subtelties involved with obtaining a Ph.D. in Europe after completing your undergraduate degree in America. In Europe, students specialize much earlier and finish all their classes by the time they reach graduate school, so a European Ph.D. consists of three years of research. In America, the Ph.D. generally consists of one or two years of classes followed by several years of research. If you move from America to Europe, you therefore skip several years of classes, so you may be perceived as unprepared compared to your classmates who completed their educations entirely in America or entirely in Europe.)

There are also a few good fellowships and scholarships that you can apply for without the blessing of the Rutgers Fellowship Office:

  1. SPS National Scholarships: For juniors and seniors, must be a member of the national SPS organization. Deadline: Mid-February. Reward: cash.
  2. Hertz Foundation Fellowship: For seniors. Deadline in late October. Reward: several years of graduate school anywhere in America.
  3. NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: For seniors. Deadline in mid-November. Reward: several years of graduate school anywhere in America.
  4. National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG): For seniors. Deadline in mid-December. Reward: several years of graduate school anywhere in America.

Anyone who goes to physics graduate school does not have to pay tuition and receives a stipend, so why should you apply for any of these fellowships? The answer is that if you have your own funding separate from your school or research advisor, you will be free to conduct your graduate school research regardless of changes in your host’s funding.

Here is a bit advice about applying for fellowships from a guy at Stanford.

There are a few other funding sources that I have heard of, but I don’t know very much about them:

  1. National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) Graduate Fellowship
  2. Science, Mathematics, Research for Transformation (SMART)