You are here

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. 

They provide financial support so the fellow may devote one year of full-time study to the completion of the dissertation or degree project 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.

Nomination System


Competitions are held in autumn and spring semesters. Nominations are to be posted as a single PDF to the Graduate School’s Nomination System no later than 5:00 pm on the third Friday of October for the autumn competition or the last Friday of March for the spring.

Competition results will be released no later than the beginning of December for the autumn competition and the beginning of May for the spring.

Specific Aspects of the Program


Up to 3 consecutive semesters, nonrenewable stipend

Fee Authorization

Payment of general/instructional fees, nonresident tuition, and learning/ technology fees. Fees such as COTA, recreation, student union, and student activity are not included.


Up to $500 travel allowance to present research at a national meeting (See Appendix for specifics on how to request a travel allowance)
University subsidy of 85% of the Student Health Insurance premium (at the time of this writing)

Student Eligibility

  • Must be a doctoral student or student in a 3-year terminal degree program (e.g., M.F.A.).

  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 3.60 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 3 consecutive semesters remaining within their candidacy or degree time limit.

  • Have not previously been awarded a Graduate School fellowship providing dissertation year support.

Nomination Procedures

As funding permits, the Graduate School expects to fund approximately 15 Presidential Fellowships in each competition as well as one or two Elizabeth Clay Howald Presidential Fellowships and one SBC Presidential Fellowship each year. 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. Graduate programs are strongly urged to provide support through graduation for any student awarded a Presidential Fellowship who does not complete his or her degree within the fellowship tenure period.

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

  • Graduate Studies Committee Chairperson’s nomination letter
  • Student’s current academic advising report
  • Student’s complete graduate vitae
  • Abstract of dissertation proposal or terminal degree project
  • Student’s research statement
  • Advisor’s statement
  • Three letters of evaluation only (excluding the advisor’s statement). It is highly recommended that one of the letters be from an off-campus source.

No ancillary materials, such as DVDs or CDs will be accepted. Web addresses linking to ancillary materials may be included as appropriate in the nomination packet; however, it is at the individual committee member’s discretion as to whether or not any web material is reviewed.


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 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 with regard to 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 Ph.D. or three-year terminal degree in the discipline). The selection committee asks that comparisons be drawn between and among the nominees should the graduate program choose to nominate more than one student for consideration. The relative ranking of each nominee must be entered in the Nomination System.


To assist reviewers in reading applications, student documents must follow this format:

  • Double spaced (except for the vitae)
  • One-inch margins
  • 12 point or larger fonts

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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. 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.


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 time table 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.

Evaluation Process

Nominations will be evaluated by a selection committee of senior members of the graduate faculty. 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 and 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 must begin within the two semesters following the award. Support is for a maximum of three consecutive semesters. Doctoral Presidential Fellowship recipients must enroll for a minimum of three credit hours of dissertation research and no other coursework each semester or session, including summer, on fellowship appointment. 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. A fellow may not hold any other type of employment or appointment. For fellows graduating prior to their Presidential Fellowship tenure expiration date, the fellowship will terminate at the end of the term of graduation. 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 the following 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 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 90 days of the fellow’s travel:

  1. Documentation that the fellow presented research at the conference (e.g., the conference program listing the fellow as a presenter), and
  2. The OSU approved travel reimbursement document from the eTravel system confirming the amount of the reimbursement, the date the travel was completed, and the reimbursement of the student by the department.

Reimbursement Requests

Reimbursement requests must be submitted to the Graduate School Business Office within 90 days of the fellow’s travel and directed to:

Rosemarie Thornton
Graduate School
250 University Hall
230 North Oval Mall

Presidential Fellowhship FAQs

Can an awardee defer his or her fellowship?

If our nominee is awarded a fellowship, when does he or she begin the fellowship?

How will our nominees be notified of the award results?

Who may serve as a reference?

Must a student have three letters of reference?

Are there style guidelines for student or faculty application documents?

Can students submit new information after the deadline (i.e., paper publication or award received)?

Who writes the advisor’s statement if a student has co-advisors?

What if the student’s advisor is also the graduate studies chair?

What should be included in the graduate studies chair’s nomination and the advisor’s statement?

What materials need to be included in the nomination PDF dossier and in what order?

Can we request a waiver to the eligibility criteria?

Can we nominate a student who received a multi-year fellowship from the Graduate School?

Can we nominate a student whose candidacy exam is shortly after the nomination deadline?

I can’t log on to the Fellowship Nomination System. How can I get access?