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Guidelines for University Graduate Fellowships



University Graduate Fellowships (UGF) are intended to support the recruitment of the very highest caliber prospective students to Penn State’s research doctorate (Ph.D.) programs. These prospects are individuals whose goals are to engage in original research and contribute new knowledge to their respective fields for the ultimate benefit of society.


  1. Awards are to be based on the academic quality of prospective students, as evidenced by their applications for admission and supporting documentation. A prospective student’s “good fit” within a program or research group is not a criterion of consideration when awarding a UGF.
  2. Awards are to be made only to students enrolled in Ph.D. programs within the Graduate School.
  3. Awards are intended to support the recruitment of the most competitive prospective students within their respective fields who apply to pursue full-time Ph.D. study.
    • Examples of Eligible Students
      • Excellent undergraduates (Penn State undergraduate degree recipients are eligible provided they are applying and considering offers to attend graduate schools elsewhere.)
      • Current Penn State master’s students completing their degrees and changing academic programs to pursue Ph.D. degrees, i.e., new to the program.
      • Students who are recruited into doctoral programs that require completion of master’s degrees prior to admission into doctoral programs. In this case, the UGF would be disbursed to the recipient in the first year of Ph.D. enrollment--not upon entry to the master's program.
    • An Example of Ineligible Students
      • Current Penn State master’s students moving on to doctoral degrees in the same academic program are ineligible if they were admitted into a master’s program that is distinct from the doctoral program. Case by case exceptions to this scenario will be considered by the Graduate School in situations where students receive competing offers of admission to Ph.D. programs at other schools.
  4. The number of nominations and of awards allowable per graduate program within a college are at the discretion of the college; however, colleges should only award UGFs to prospective students who are within the top tier of applicants to the respective field nationally.


  1. Offers of University Graduate Fellowships are to be extended by the college, department, or program. A congratulatory letter from the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School will be forwarded to the college and should be included with the original offer package. (See Graduate School Reporting #1.)
  2. Awardees must be given until at least April 15th (the Council of Graduate Schools national acceptance deadline) to respond.
  3. Recipients are to be provided with health insurance information and required payroll forms at the time of the offer as well as details about Penn State’s background check process.
  4. The Terms of Offer of a Graduate Assistantship should not be utilized for fellowship offers.


  1. Fellowship appointments span fall and spring semesters (10 months) at a stipend of $28,750 for 2017-18.
  2. Students receiving the award are to be designated and recognized as University Graduate Fellows.
  3. The appointments are to be entered by the college on IBIS using the appropriate Graduate School budget (see processing instructions document). This should be done as soon as possible in the summer so that fellows receive their first stipend check at the end of August. Typically, international students must wait until they arrive on campus to process their payroll information. Other students can do this when they visit campus. The appointments must be forwarded to the Graduate School for final approval. Awards above the number allocated to a college by the Graduate School are the responsibility of the college with respect to funding. Colleges should extend offers only to the degree they are able to cover awards exceeding Graduate School allocations.
  4. Colleges/departments/programs must guarantee a second year of support at a comparable amount of funding (stipend, tuition, and benefits) assuming the student is making satisfactory progress. Note that second year appointments as teaching or research assistants are allowed and that the Graduate School will consider requests to utilize FEGR funding to support second-year stipends on a case by case basis as deemed appropriate by the respective college's graduate education leader.
  5. If necessary for the first-year UGF award to be competitive, financial enhancements by the college/department/program are encouraged. General funds (other than 06-088-XX budgets) may not be used to fund fellows unless written exception is obtained from the Corporate Controller. For additional details, review the GURU policy online. It is also important to note that increases to the stipend from department or college funds may shift the assignment of insurance charges from central to department or college budgets.
  6. Students on fellowships must be registered full time and cannot accept other work appointments without approval of the budget area funding the appointment.


  1. Before an offer is conveyed, programs must submit the name and PSU ID to the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards Administration. Upon receipt of this information, a congratulatory letter from the Dean of the Graduate School will be prepared and forwarded to the college so it may be included in the original fellowship offer package.
  2. Each college’s graduate education leader must submit a roster of recipient names, student ID numbers, and programs to the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards Administration by June 1.
  3. Awards will revert to the Graduate School if they are not committed by June 1. They will be subject to immediate redistribution.
  4. The Report on University Graduate Fellowships must be submitted by each college’s designated graduate education leader to the Graduate School by October 1. The report will be available from the Graduate School’s website.
  5. Incorporating diversity into the pool of UGF recipients over the course of multiple years is a priority and will be reviewed on future annual UGF reports and used as an assessment factor when distributing resources. All UGF-caliber prospects should be considered for UGF awarding. It is not appropriate to preclude individuals from consideration based on their eligibility for other funding programs. 


Each college receives notification from the Graduate School regarding its allocation of University Graduate Fellowships for students who will be admitted during the subsequent academic year. These allocations are re-evaluated every year by the Graduate Council Committee on Fellowships and Awards. The distribution in subsequent years will be based upon the effectiveness of college processes in awarding the fellowships to attract exceptional students to their programs.

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