Presidential Fellowship Guidelines

Presidential Fellowships recognize outstanding scholarly accomplishments and potential of graduate students entering the final phase of their dissertation research or terminal degree project. 

Presidential Fellowships provide financial support so the fellow may devote one year, three consecutive semesters, of full-time study to the completion of the dissertation or degree project and to graduate unimpeded by other duties. Recipients of this award embody the highest standards of scholarship in our graduate programs. Within the Presidential Fellowship program, the Graduate School has two named endowments, which carry the same eligibility requirements, nomination/competition procedures, and benefits as the Presidential Fellowship. The SBC Presidential Fellowship, established in 1987, is open to eligible students pursuing research in digital technology and information technologies. The Elizabeth Clay Howald Presidential Fellowship, funded by an endowment established in 1934 with a bequest from Ferdinand Howald, has no field of study restrictions.

Presidential Fellowship 2023/24 Competition Dates

Monday August 28th, 2023 12pm - 2023 Presidential Fellowship Nominations Open

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 5:00PM - 2023 Presidential Fellowship Nominations Deadline


Nomination System



The Presidential Fellowship competition is held once annually in the autumn semester. Nominations are to be posted as a single PDF to the Graduate School’s Nomination System by the deadline posted on the Fellowship calendar. The PDF should not be submitted in a portfolio format. Competition results will be released in early December. 

As funding permits, the Graduate School expects to fund approximately 30-40 Presidential Fellowships in the annual competition. 

 The Presidential Fellowship runs for up to three consecutive semesters and is not renewable.  Stipend levels are described in the Graduate School Fellowship Stipend table.  Please reference Section 13.0 of the Fellowship Guidelines regarding tuition and fee authorization and health insurance benefits.  Additionally, Presidential Fellows are eligible for up to a $500 travel allowance to present research at a national meeting.  Please reference the Travel Allowance section of the Presidential Fellowship Guidelines for additional instructions for accessing travel allowance funds.


Student Eligibility

  • Must be a doctoral student (PhD orDMA) or student in a full-time 3-year terminal degree program (e.g., MFA).
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 3.50 for all Ohio State graduate course work.
  • Have completed all degree course work by the time the fellowship is activated.
  • Have passed the Candidacy Examination (for doctoral students) by the nomination deadline.
  • Have at least one autumn and one spring semesters remaining within their candidacy (for doctoral students) or degree time limit.
  • Have not previously been awarded any Graduate School Fellowship providing dissertation support.  


Nomination Procedures

Students do not apply directly to the Graduate School for the Presidential Fellowships. Nominations are made and submitted by Graduate Studies Committee Chairpersons (GSCC).

  • A graduate program can nominate up to six candidates for the annual Presidential fellowship competition. 
  • A student who was previously nominated for the Presidential fellowship but was not an awardee can be nominated again provided they still meet the student eligibility criteria specified above. 
  • It is imperative that the Graduate Studies Committee screen potential nominees carefully and submit nominations only for candidates deemed to be truly outstanding.
  • The selection committee will not review nominations that do not meet the eligibility criteria or follow the procedures.
  • A nominated student’s research/project should be sufficiently advanced so that the selection committee can make a comprehensive evaluation. Completion of the dissertation or degree project within the fellowship tenure is expected.

For the rare exception of a student who does not graduate within the Presidential Fellowship award period, it is an expectation that the program will provide similar support for the student to complete their degree.

The GSCC, the student, and the student’s academic advisor assume joint responsibility for preparing the supporting nomination dossier (see list of responsibilities below). Each nomination must include the items listed below as a single PDF in the order requested. The nomination PDF should not be submitted in a portfolio format.

  1. Graduate Studies Committee Chairperson’s nomination letter
  2. Student’s current academic advising report
  3. Student’s complete graduate vitae
  4. Abstract of dissertation proposal or terminal degree project
  5. Student’s research statement
  6. Advisor’s statement
  7. Three letters of evaluation only (excluding the advisor’s statement) It is highly recommended that at least one of the letters be from an external reviewer, typically one at another institution.

No ancillary materials, such as DVDs or CDs, will be accepted.


Responsibilities of the Graduate Studies Committee Chairperson

The Graduate Studies Committee Chairperson provides the rationale for nomination, verifies the student has met the eligibility criteria, explains the professional expectations for All But Dissertations (ABDs) or three-year terminal degree candidates in the student’s field of study, and describes how the student meets or exceeds the norm. A GSCC should address the expectations the program has of its students regarding scholarly activities (number/type of publications, presentations, exhibits, grade point average, and/or progress toward the degree in relation to the average length of time to completion of the PhD or three-year terminal degree in the discipline).  

A student being recommended for nomination provides their Graduate Studies Chair or advisor with the following materials:

  1. Complete graduate vitae in a professional format and order that is appropriate for the field. A graduate vitae may contain some or all of the following: educational background [degrees received; date(s)/institution(s)/major(s)], complete list of refereed and/or non-refereed publications, teaching experience, research experience, juried exhibits, performances, patents received, types of financial support received, awards received, memberships in honor societies and/or professional organizations.
  2. An abstract of the dissertation proposal or terminal degree project (350 words or less) describing the problem, methods, expected results and basic and/or applied significance. The abstract should be suitable for readership by scholars outside of the student’s field. The format of the abstract must be double-spaced with one-inch margins and 12 or larger font size.
  3. A brief research statement (no more than 5 pages inclusive of figures, tables, and appendices) about the research that describes the problem, methods, expected results, and basic and/or applied significance. The text should reflect both the overall design and current status of the various parts of the research. References used in the text should be listed by authors and may not exceed one additional page beyond the five pages of text. Any terms unique to the field must be defined the first time they are used. The format of the research statement must be double-spaced with one-inch margins and 12 or larger font size.

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of how well they communicate the student’s project to scholars in other fields, not how impressive it would be to someone in the student’s field.


Advisor’s Responsibilities

The student’s advisor provides the following documents for the nomination dossier:

  1. A statement (no more than three, single-spaced typed pages) describing the
    1. Major significance of the student’s research project
    2. Relevance of the project to the field of study and, if appropriate, to the advisor’s and/or graduate program’s research efforts
    3. Student’s unique contribution to the project
    4. Evaluation of the student’s research progress to date
    5. Projected plan of research and timetable for completion of the degree
    6. Summary of the professional reputations of individuals submitting letters of evaluation and any professional connections they might have had with the student and/or advisor
  2. The advisor, in consultation with the student, should include three additional letters of evaluation from experts on or off campus, other than the advisor, who can testify to the student’s ability and the nature, uniqueness, and significance of the research. It is highly recommended that one of the letters be from an off-campus source who can serve as an independent evaluator of the proposed research project.
  3. A copy of the student’s current academic advising report showing all courses and grades.

Nominations will be evaluated by a selection committee consisting of members of the graduate faculty who have extensive experience advising doctoral students to successful completion of their degrees. The committee will take into account all the required information presented in support of an individual nomination. Evaluation will focus on:

  • The quality of the research proposed
  • The student’s ability to undertake and complete the dissertation or degree project within the fellowship tenure, as evaluated primarily by scholars outside the nominee’s area of study. Fellowships awarded in the competition must begin the following spring, summer, or autumn semester. Support is for a maximum of three consecutive semesters. 
  • Doctoral Presidential Fellowship recipients must enroll for three credit hours of dissertation research each term they are on fellowship appointment and no other course work or credit hours each semester or session, including during summer, while on fellowship appointment.
  • Three-year Master’s recipients must enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours of thesis research and no other coursework during autumn and spring semesters and 6 credit hours during the summer semester when on appointment.
  • Graduate School fellows must not hold another paid student appointment or student employment during the term of the fellowship appointment..
  • For fellows graduating prior to their Presidential Fellowship tenure expiration date, the fellowship will terminate at the end of the term of graduation (Section 9.2 of Graduate School Handbook). If the Graduate School approves the doctoral candidate’s petition, all benefits associated with the graduate associate or fellow appointment will remain on the doctoral student’s account for the duration of the appointment period.
  • For students completing degree requirements using the end of term deadline or otherwise leaving the university or fellowship appointment, the fellowship will be terminated effective at the end of the appropriate month.


Travel Allowance Guidelines

The travel allowance helps Presidential Fellows and graduate programs offset the costs of presenting the Fellow’s research at a U.S. or international conference during fellowship tenure.

Funding Per Student

A maximum of $500 may be reimbursed directly to the graduate program for documented expenses: transportation (air, bus or train fare, personal auto mileage, taxi, and parking); registration; lodging or per diem. All reimbursable expenses must comply with Ohio State travel policy.

Funding Method

Graduate programs must pre-approve and initiate the travel request prior to the fellow’s departure and maintain documentation of all the fellow’s costs. It is the fellow’s responsibility to contact their program’s fiscal/travel officer within a reasonable time before the travel begins. The travel allowance will be made directly to the graduate program, not the fellow. The funds are provided to the graduate program after the travel is complete.

Reimbursement Process

To request reimbursement from the Graduate School, a graduate program must submit the following within 60 days of the fellow’s travel:

  1. Documentation of the fellow’s conference participation (e.g., the conference program listing the fellow as a presenter), and
  2. The amount of the reimbursement, the date the travel was completed, and documentation of the reimbursement of the student by the department in the form of the approved expense report number from Workday and a PDF copy of the approved expense report. Program Coordinators can contact their Service Center or for how to enter this information into Workday.

Reimbursement Requests

Reimbursement requests must be submitted to Graduate School Fellowship Services at with attention to the Fiscal Officer within 60 days of the fellow’s travel.


Previous Presidential Fellowship Awardees

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