Top 5 Most Prestigious Science Fellowships

By Ren Orin , last updated November 22, 2011

If you’re pursuing a graduate degree in science, there are a number of ways to fund it. And if you’re good (really, really good) you might be eligible for one of the following prestigious fellowships. Consider the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Physical Science Consortium, NASA, and the US Department of Defense for your funding options. And if you’re attending one of a handful of schools, you might want to look into the Hertz foundation as well. Read on for the top 5 most prestigious science fellowships.

The Sloan Research Fellowships are pretty sizeable fellowships, provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provides $40,000 for two years to “young scientists and research faculty.” In fact, the funds are provided to the institution where the fellow is in residence to support his or her research. There are usually more than 500 applications, from which 116 fellows are selected each year.

The US National Science Foundation provides three-year fellowships to between 900 and 1,000 graduate students each year. These fellowships provide $10,500 that will pay for the fellow's tuition and fees, a $30,000 stipend and another $1,000 for travel.

The National Physical Science Consortium has a good sized fellowship that covers tuition and fees for up to six years for students working toward a PhD in the physical sciences. The fellowship also includes an annual stipend of $20,000. As part of the fellowship, fellows must work for a member of the NPSC during the summer before graduate school and the summer after their first year. Recipients are required to have a 3.0 GPA.

NASA's fellowship, for students working toward a masters or doctoral degree in science, math and engineering, is a one-year grant of $27,000. The funds are distributed as follows: students receive a $20,000 stipend and an additional allowance of $6,000, of which $1,000 pays for their health insurance, and $3,000 goes toward the university itself. The award is renewable for up to three years. Between 90 and 100 fellows are selected annually.

The US Department of Defense has a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, which supports 100 to 300 new fellows each year. The fellowship, which supports students for three years, will pay for tuition and some extra fees as well as stipends in annually increasing amounts. In the first year, students receive $27,000. The next year, they are paid a $28,000 stipend. In the third year, their stipend is $28,500. This fellowship is highly competitive; only 10% of applicants receive the award.

There's another fellowship to keep in mind if you're attending one of a handful of eligible schools. The Hertz Foundation will support students studying one of the following institutions: CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, RPI, Rice, Stanford, UC Berkeley and Yale. The award is exceptionally competitive; out of all the applicants who apply, one fourth receive an interview. Only 10% of those interviewed receive the award.

These five fellowships are among the most prestigious in the country, and they're also incredibly difficult to win. But, if you're the best of the best, these fellowships are a great way to help pay for your education or research.

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