UMKC students to compete for nationally competitive, merit-based scholarships and fellowships. UMKC students have won funding for study and research in the United States and overseas through the Fulbright, Truman, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), Udall, Javits and Rotary fellowships. The application process can be an invaluable experience that will challenge and stretch you as you identify your talents and goals, hone your writing and presentation skills and work with mentors who will support your efforts and help with your plans. It’s never too early to prepare yourself for a fellowship. In fact, some Fellowships are specifically targeted for Freshmen and Sophomores!

UMKC Fellowships Flowchart

Click here for a listing of competitive fellowships supported by UMKC. Criteria for eligibility varies by fellowship. Please check with the listed UMKC National Fellowship Advisors for further information regarding fellowship eligibility. Contact information is listed by the name of each advisor.

Applying for Fellowships

The general components of the fellowship application process, resources, and tips for how to successfully complete each step are listed below. Contact the specific UMKC National Fellowship Advisor for advising on specific fellowship applications.

Read more

Application Steps

Follow these steps to start the application process:

  1. First, schedule an advising appointment with the specific advisor listed on the flowchart.  For example, please contact Dr. Debra Leiter ( for advising over the Truman Scholarship
  2. Read the fellowship website thoroughly noting: eligibility, deadlines, required components of the application, the funder’s mission, profiles of past recipients
  3. Attend any relevant workshops offered by IAP or the specific advisor on fellowships, preparation of Personal Statements, and Project Development. Also, pay attention to UMKC department related emails on information regarding available workshops.
  4. Allow plenty of time to prepare: multiple re-writes, collecting all transcripts, ample lead time for your recommendation writers, any required proof of acceptance to a program or affiliation with an institution
  5. Take advantage of UMKC resources such as the Writing Studio

Personal Statement

Most fellowship applications require some type of personal statement. This is your opportunity – often your only opportunity – to introduce yourself to the reader. There may be prompts, asking for specific information such as goals, important life experiences, and challenges.   The personal statement is a portrait, a picture of you. It is also an example of your writing and as such must demonstrate your command of style, grammar, and proofreading. It needs to capture the reader’s attention, be rich in detail, avoid cliché, be relevant to the fellowship for which you are applying, and flow as a meaningful narrative.

Applicant Resources: There are many very good online resources with tips and guidelines for writing the personal statement. Some of the best are:

Project Proposal or Statement of Grant Purpose

The format for explaining what you propose to do varies with different fellowships. It is essential that you follow the instructions exactly and respond to all the prompts. Essentially you must follow the old instructions for a good news story by explaining: who, what, where, why and how. Whether you are asked to write an essay, or respond to specific questions, you need to explain the importance of the project, your exact plans and timeline, how you propose to carry out your plan, what resources you will need, and the feasibility of the project, i.e. your ability to do it in the way you have outlined.

Resource: Yale University: Writing a Fellowship Proposal

Letters of Recommendation

You will need to get at least one, and usually two or three letters of recommendation for your fellowship application. These letters are vitally important to your application and provide another opportunity to fill out that portrait of you and your work. Select your letter writers carefully!

How to request and get strong letters of recommendation:
-Identify potential writers who know you and your work well, who can speak authoritatively about you as a scholar, researcher, and person.
-Depending on the fellowship, it is usually a good idea to look for some diversity in your writers, so that they can speak about knowing you in different ways.
-Ask the potential writer early. You may need to remind them of your time in class, or a special project/paper you completed for them. Tell them that you are thinking of applying for the XYZ fellowship. -Do they think you might be a good candidate? If the response is encouraging, ask if they have the time and would be comfortable writing you a strong letter of recommendation.
-Let them know your plans (study proposal, location, etc.), and provide them any useful information about the fellowship: website, mission, eligibility and criterion, profiles of previous recipients. If you have a resume, give them a copy of that.
-Provide a deadline (preferably earlier than the actual final post time) and all the submission information, including to whom the letter should be addressed. Usually, submission is online, and your recommender will receive a prompt with sign-on instructions from the fellowship office.
-Keep the writer informed of your progress on the application, providing updates on your proposal and Personal Statement.
-Send a courteous reminder a few weeks before the deadline
-Finally, send a thank you note to your writer who has expended time and effort on your behalf.

Resources for Students:

 Resources for Faculty:


You will be asked to provide transcripts, a process that can take time, especially if you have studied in another country. Rules vary; sometimes you may submit a copy, while other fellowships may require sealed originals. Be sure any blips in an otherwise strong record are addressed, either in your own personal statement or, if possible, in one of your recommendation letters.


There are many advantages to applying for a fellowship through UMKC. Below we’ve tried to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about fellowships.

Read more

Who can apply for a fellowship?

The base requirements for almost all fellowships are high GPAs and full-time enrollment. After that, eligibility can be determined by a large range of factors that may include: citizenship, race/ethnicity, gender, community and campus service, undergraduate research, military service, and many others. Read the eligibility criterion carefully!

How early should I begin preparing my application(s) for fellowships?

It is never too early;  fellowship applications cannot be prepared in a weekend! Some fellowships are open to sophomores (Goldwater and Udall). Start thinking about your interests and potential for a fellowship application early in your academic career. Talk to your academic advisors.

How many recommendations will I need, and who should I ask for recommendations?

As few as two and as many as eight. You should ask for recommendations from people who know you well, who can speak about your academic work and potential and other relevant factors, and who are willing to take the time to write a positive letter.

Do I need to be endorsed by UMKC in order to submit an application?

Sometimes, yes. This can take several forms. Some fellowships require an on-campus interview with the applicant before submission. This can take place anywhere up to a month before the national deadline, which means there is an internal deadline by which time everything needs to be prepared. After the interview, you can revise and edit. The other kind of endorsement is a formal letter of institutional support from the Chancellor or Provost.

Should I apply for more than one fellowship?

Yes! While you should be careful to tailor your applications to the mission and purpose of the fellowship, the work you do for one can often by developed for other awards that are similar in location (e.g., the United Kingdom) or scholarly purpose.