Fellowships are highly desirable for the freedom and prestige that they bring, among other reasons. They are immensely helpful for both students and departments.
Good for you
- Fellowships provide financial security by guaranteeing funding outside of expiring grants, transitioning or moving faculty members, and generally unforeseen events.
- Many fellowship opportunities are extremely competitive and/or nationally recognized. To receive such an award is a benefit to you and your future career goals.
- Fellowships allow greater flexibility in choosing research projects and permit the pursuit of independent and innovative ideas that may cross-disciplines.
- Beyond the financial assistance of fellowships, some opportunities provide research allowances, travel experiences, career opportunities, and general professional development.
- Many fellowships hold national conventions and conferences providing a source for networking with your peers and recognized experts in your field.
- Preparing for a fellowship application can provide good experience towards grant writing that may be an important skill for your future career.
- Preparing the application can also help you flesh out your research goals and can provide a helpful roadmap and/or timeline.
Good for MIT and your department
- With a reduction in the amount of federal funds directed towards science and technology research and an increase in the demand for this money, federal funding for sponsored research is dropping nationally, leading to a need for MIT to diversify its funding portfolio and search for more dependable sources of financial support.
- For first year students, many faculty hesitate to use lab funds for students who will spend the majority of their time in the classroom (RAs), and students often don’t have the time or expertise to be teaching assistants (TAs).
- Some programs have limited funds to directly support students, and others do not lend themselves to an abundance of teaching or reaching assistantships available for their students.
- Alternative sources of funding enable faculty to recruit graduate students with unconventional and potentially interdisciplinary research interests.
- The recipients of certain fellowships are often broadly publicized and this can be a great source of positive coverage for students, departments, and the Institute as a whole.
- External funding is valued by Principle Investigators (PIs) and often allows them to bring on more students in their lab than they would otherwise have the funding to support.