First-Years and Sophomores

Fellowships are merit-based awards for further academic study or research disbursed through national, and sometimes international, competitions. Some sponsors also use the term “scholarship” in the name of their awards.

The federal government, foreign governments, and private philanthropic organizations sponsor these award programs; they provide funding based on academic merit and other criteria to support advanced study or research in the US and abroad after completion of the bachelor‘s degree.

In the context of national academic competitions, a fellowship should not be confused with traditional sources of financial aid. Recipients are usually selected on the basis of:

  • High academic achievement
  • Scholarly promise
  • Career goals
  • Leadership skills
  • Service to others
  • Character

Some fellowships also take financial need into consideration.

See the Guide for First- and Second-year Students for suggestions on ways to improve one's competitiveness for fellowships. The guide also contains links to searchable fellowships databases.

For most of the competitive award programs, applicants must already be of sophomore standing at the time of application. However, there are several programs that accept applications from first-year students, including summer opportunities.

Some of these programs are officially coordinated by our office while others are handled by the Center for Education Abroad. Many programs do not require any formal University involvement, but students are encouraged to seek advisement from the relevant office for these competitions as well.

First-Year and Sophomore Fellowship Opportunities

This is a selective list of national and international fellowships opportunities.

To quickly figure out what programs work for you, we’ve marked all programs that accept first-year students with a dagger (†), and programs that require institutional endowment with an asterisk (*).

If you’re interested in a program that required institutional endowment please remember that:

  • To be considered for nomination, you will need to complete the Fellowships Preliminary Questionnaire (FPQ) by the specified spring or fall deadline, prior to submitting the official application for campus review. If it has been more than one academic year since you submitted an FPQ, please complete the FPQ Update.
  • Campus application deadlines are much earlier than the national application due dates; check with the appropriate office at least a semester in advance if you are interested in applying for any of these awards.
  • Before you are nominated or endorsed, we will perform a conduct and academic honesty check to confirm that you are in good disciplinary and academic standing.

* † David L. Boren/NSEP (National Security Education Program) Undergraduate Scholarship

The David L. Boren NSEP Undergraduate Scholarship is for undergraduates who are US citizens and wish to study abroad in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, or the Middle East.

Maximum scholarship awards are:

  • $8,000 for a summer program (special initiative for STEM students only; eight weeks minimum)
  • $10,000 for a semester
  • $20,000 for a full academic year

Academic programs must include formal study of a modern language other than English and the study of an area and culture considered critical to US national security.

Selection based on:

  • Academic achievement and potential to succeed in the proposed study abroad experience
  • Commitment to international education to fulfill academic and career goals
  • Commitment to seek work in the federal government
  • The quality and appropriateness of the proposed program

The undergraduate application process is coordinated through the Center for Education Abroad. Applications are usually due mid-January.

Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) is an overseas language training and cultural enrichment program in languages deemed of critical importance to the US:

  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bangla/Bengali
  • Chinese
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Turkish
  • Urdu

Open to currently enrolled students (undergraduates and graduates) in all academic disciplines who are US citizens. Undergraduate candidates must have completed at least one year of college by the program start date. Candidates must also meet language study prerequisites set for the language of interest. The application may be made for one language only.

The award covers all CLS program costs.

Selection basis includes:

  • Academic record and potential to succeed in a rigorous academic setting
  • Cultural adaptability
  • Diversity
  • Plan for continuation of language study
  • Plan for use of the language studied in a future career

Two letters of recommendation are required; one from a language instructor and one from an academic contact, preferably a professor.

The application is available online and usually due mid-November.

DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst/German Academic Exchange Service)

The programs are open to all students studying in North America. Students who are citizens of countries outside North America may also apply for certain DAAD programs. See the DAAD website for details.

There are several different DAAD programs that students may be interested in:

  • Undergraduate Scholarship: Sophomores and juniors with demonstrated interest in German and European affairs can apply for this award to support study abroad, senior thesis research, or internships in Germany. Funding is available for a minimum of four and a maximum of ten months during the German academic year, i.e. October to July. Proficiency in German is not mandatory, but applicants should have the necessary language skills for the programs they propose to undertake. The application deadline is usually January 31.
  • Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE): Sophomores and juniors majoring in a science or engineering field may apply for summer internships of six weeks to three months; placements provided by top German university research groups. Knowledge of German is not required for most positions but would be helpful for life outside the laboratory. A two-week intensive language course is available for participants with little or no German. The application deadline is in mid-January.
  • Study and Internship Program (SIP) in Germany: Sophomores and juniors majoring in an engineering, science, economics, or art/design field can apply for full semester of study at a participating German university of applied sciences followed by semester-long paid internship in a German company or research institute. Basic German skills helpful, but some courses available in English. The application deadline is usually mid-February.
* † Projects for Peace

Projects for Peace grants $10,000 for summer grassroots projects designed to resolve conflict and maintain peace.

Successful applicants will use their creativity to design projects and employ innovative techniques for conflict resolution, reconciliation, building understanding and breaking down barriers that cause conflict, and finding solutions for resolving conflict and maintaining peace.

The application is open to all undergraduates in all disciplines, and both individual and group projects are welcome. The project itself can take place anywhere in the world.

Nomination requirements:

  • Two-page statement (project description, expected outcomes, prospects for future impact)
  • One-page budget
  • A letter of support from collaborating organization or parties
  • One general reference from a Rochester instructor or staff supervisor per candidate

Submit application materials and a resume for each applicant via email to Belinda Redden, Director of Fellowships, at Two proposals will be selected by a campus review committee.

See the UR Projects for Peace campus timeline for deadline information.

Department of Homeland Security Undergraduate Scholarship

The Department of Homeland Security Undergraduate Scholarship offers a variety of scholarships, fellowships, internships, and training opportunities to students interested in national security. Second-year college students who are US citizens can apply for this two-year scholarship and internship program. Students must be committed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mission and willing to accept employment in a DHS, state, or local security-related office, lab, or research organization. Graduate school in a supported field immediately following completion of a bachelor's degree is also acceptable.

The program requires students:

  • Have a minimum 3.30/4.0 cumulative GPA
  • Be majoring in an engineering, physical, mathematical, computer, life, or social/behavioral/economic sciences field and committed to a homeland security research area

The award covers full tuition and mandatory fees and also provides $1,000/month stipend for nine months during the academic year plus $5,000 for a 10-week summer internship.

The application deadline is usually early January. Check the program website for further details and application forms.

Fulbright US-UK Summer Institutes Scholarship

The Fulbright US-UK Summer Institutes Scholarship is an academic and cultural summer program to promote mutual understanding and ties between the United States and the United Kingdom.

To be edible students must:

  • Be US citizens who are at least 18 years of age
  • Have a US passport at the time of application
  • Have a minimum 3.5/4.0 GPA

First-year and sophomore students in any major who have little or no study or travel experience in the UK or anywhere else outside the US may apply.

The program is looking for students who are mature, responsible, independent, open-minded, and willing to become an ambassador for studying in the UK.

Students in the program will study at one of the programs highly regarded UK universities. Each institute offers several different options for the academic component of the program and all institutes include intensive study, discussions, and cultural excursions. Institutes vary in duration from four to six weeks, with varying start dates.

The program covers international round-trip travel fare, tuition, fees at the host institution, accommodation, and meals. It also provides a small daily allowance.

Application requirements:

  • A personal statement
  • An essay on a specific topic
  • Two letters of reference, one of which must be from a professor who has taught you

Eight to twelve scholars are selected for each institute. Competition opens in January and applications are usually due mid- to late February.

* Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is for undergraduates in any field to pursue full-time international study worldwide but especially in countries outside of Western Europe and Australia. The scholarship is open to US citizens and nationals receiving a Federal Pell Grant at the time of application.

Study abroad periods may be from four weeks up to an academic year and there are a limited number of summer programs are available. Study abroad programs must be approved by the University for academic credit.

The scholarship awards up to $5,000, with an average award of $4,000.

Applications are available online and must be officially endorsed by the Center for Education Abroad. Students should apply in the academic term prior to the start date of the study abroad program: March for fall and summer study abroad or October for spring study abroad.

* Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to outstanding sophomore and junior students (top 25 percent of class and minimum 3.75 cumulative GPA) in mathematics, natural sciences, or engineering who are preparing for graduate study (usually PhD) and research-oriented careers in their field.

The scholarship is open to US citizens, permanent residents, or, in the case of nominees from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, US nationals.

Students who are awarded the scholarship will receive up to $7,500 a year for the remaining year(s) of undergraduate study.

* University of Rochester nomination is required for this scholarship and only four nominees will be selected. Selection will be made on the basis of:

  • Superior academic achievement
  • Research experience and scholarly potential
  • A research essay
  • Three letters of recommendation

Prospective candidates should complete the Fellowships Preliminary Application (FPQ) by the specified fall deadline.

A complete, polished draft of the official application is due in early December for the campus nomination process. It is strongly recommended that a first draft be submitted for feedback in October. You can see the Goldwater binder in the Fellowships Office for examples of application essays by past Rochester applicants. Nominees are usually selected by early January.

Humanity in Action Foundation Fellowship

The international human rights education and internship program sponsored by the Humanity in Action Foundation is "devoted to the study and betterment of human rights and specifically the relationship between majority and minority populations." Students from any national background of sophomore through senior standing may apply.

Students chosen from the US travel to Washington, DC for orientation and then to a participating European country for a four-week European core program of seminars, workshops, site visits, and meetings with figures from various fields, such as academia, government, journalism, and human rights organizations. Fellows engage in outreach programs to their peers and local communities during the academic year following the summer program in Europe.

Selection is based on:

  • Leadership potential
  • Academic achievement
  • Interest in minority issues
  • Concern for human rights
  • Willingness to engage in intellectually and socially rigorous work in group settings
  • Maturity
  • Self-reliance

The foundation pays expenses for European travel and accommodations.

The application deadline is in early January. See the program website for more detailed information, application forms, and exact filing deadline.

The Institute for Humane Studies Fellowship

The Institute for Humane Studies Fellowship is for undergraduate and graduate students of any nationality who have a clearly demonstrated interest in the classical liberal/libertarian tradition of individual rights and free-market economies. Sophomores may apply for junior-year funding.

The fellowship awards $2,000 to $15,000, which can be used at any degree-granting institution in the US or abroad.

Selection is based on:

  • Academic performance
  • Relevant admission test scores (GRE, LSAT, SAT, etc.)
  • Demonstrated interest in classical liberal ideas
  • Potential to contribute to the advancement of a free society

The application can be downloaded and must be postmarked no later than January 31.

Approximately 180 Institute for Humane Studies Fellowships are awarded each year.

McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

The McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is for sophomores and juniors to pursue summer or academic-year research projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The program is open to US citizens and permanent residents who are (1) members of an underrepresented minority group (African American, Hispanic, or Native American) or (2) low-income, first-generation college students. The aim is to encourage these students to pursue doctoral degrees.

Student must have a minimum cumulative and major GPA of 2.8.

The program offers an academic-year option ($1,200 stipend) or a full-time summer option ($3,600 stipend, room, board, and travel expenses). Participants gain experience presenting their research and receive guidance on graduate-school application process.

Application deadlines are in early December for the academic-year program and early February for the summer program.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program

The National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program is for students committed to pursuing health-related research careers in biomedical, behavioral, or social science fields. The program is open to US citizens, nationals, or qualified permanent residents with a documented history of significant financial need. First-years through juniors may apply with first priority given to junior applicants.

Scholarships are worth up to $20,000 per year. Other benefits include:

  • 10-week paid summer internship at NIH
  • Professional mentoring
  • Scientific seminars
  • Employment after completion of graduate school

A minimum 3.50 GPA is required.

To aid in the preparation of a competitive application, prospective candidates are encouraged to complete the campus Fellowships Preliminary Questionnaire (FPQ) in the fall (by December 1) and present a draft of the application essays to the Fellowships Office for critical feedback by January 5.

The national deadline is usually in late January.

New York Women in Communications, Inc. (NYWICI) Foundation Scholarship

The New York Women in Communications, Inc. Foundation Scholarship is for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in a communications-related field and aspiring to a career in this area. Students must be US citizens and permanent residents of NY, NJ, CT, or PA.

The scholarship awards range from $2,500 to $10,000.

Selection criteria include:

  • Academic excellence (minimum 3.2 GPA)
  • Financial need
  • Leadership
  • Campus and community service
  • Honors
  • Involvement in communications-related activities

To apply students must submit:

  • Personal essay
  • Statement of goals and aspirations
  • Two reference letters

Applications are available online and are usually due in late January.

SMART Scholarship for Service Program (Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation)

The SMART Scholarship for Service Program is for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields who have demonstrated ability and special aptitude for excelling in their fields. Applicants should have a strong interest in theoretical and applied research as well as interest in working for the Department of Defense as civilian research scientists and engineers. Only US citizens may apply.

To apply students must have:

  • A minimum 3.0/4.0 cumulative GPA required.
  • Two letters of recommendation

The award includes full tuition and eligible expenses, an annual cash award of at least $25,000, summer internships, and post-graduation employment opportunities in the Department of Defense laboratories and agencies.

The application is available online and is usually due in early October.

SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) Program

SOARS is an undergraduate-to-graduate bridge program of research and mentoring designed to broaden participation in atmospheric and related sciences. Applications are encouraged from sophomores and juniors, especially those from groups historically under-represented in the sciences, students with disabilities, and students who have experienced social or economic disadvantages. The program is open to US citizens and permanent residents.

SOARS provides paid research for up to four summers as well as undergraduate and graduate school funding, summer housing, and round-trip airfare to summer research sites.

Candidates should have a major in disciplines such as biology, chemistry, earth science, engineering environmental science, math, physics, or the social sciences, and should plan on having a career in atmospheric or related science. A minimum 3.0 GPA is recommended.

The application requires:

  • Two essays
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak directly to the student’s academic and research abilities
  • Transcripts from all higher-education institutions attended

Applications are usually available mid-November and due early February. Approximately eight to ten SOARS protégés are selected each spring, around mid-March.

Tylenol Scholarship Program

The Tylenol Scholarship Program is for students majoring in an area that may lead to a health-related career. Ten scholarships worth $10,000, and 30 scholarships worth $5,000 are awarded each year.

Selection is based on academic achievement and leadership in community and school activities. Applications are available online and usually due in late April.

* Udall Scholarship

The Udall Scholarship is for full-time sophomores and juniors in any major (1) with a strong demonstrated commitment to environmental issues OR (2) who are Native American/Alaska Native and also committed to Native American healthcare OR tribal public policy. The scholarship is open to US citizens, permanent residents, and US nationals.

Students can be awarded up to $5,000 for tuition, room and board, or other educational expenses. Students who win as sophomores may re-apply in their junior year.

Students who apply should have a minimum 3.55 cumulative GPA.

* University of Rochester nomination is required and up to six nominees may be selected.

Selection based on:

  • Academic achievement and honors
  • Record of leadership and service
  • Relevant work experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A critical essay discussing Congressman Morris K. Udall's or Secretary Stewart L. Udall's public policy work and its relation to the applicant's interests and career goals

Prospective candidates should complete the Fellowships Preliminary Application (FPQ) by the specified fall deadline. A complete, polished draft of the application for the campus nomination process is due in early January. It is strongly recommended that a first draft be submitted for feedback by mid-November. See Udall binder in the Fellowships Office for examples of application essays by past Rochester applicants.

Approximately 75 Udall Scholars are selected each spring.

USA Today's All-USA College Academic Team

USA Today's All-USA College Academic Team is for undergraduates of at least sophomore standing who are legal residents of the US or DC (excluding Puerto Rico) and who have distinguished themselves through high academic achievement, creativity, unusual service to others, and effective leadership.

Winners will receive a $2,500 cash award, with only 20 cash awards made each year.

Application requires an essay on most outstanding intellectual endeavor, which can be in scholarly research, the creative or performing arts, community service, or public affairs. Applications are available online and are usually due late November.

Students will normally be nominated by a professor.