How do graduate students pay for one to two years of a master's program or five to seven years of a doctoral program? Very few graduate students receive financial support from their school that provides fully for stipend, tuition, student health insurance and other university fees for the duration of their graduate program. So the most successful graduate students develop a strategic plan for funding their graduate degree.

It’s not only about the funding. With a competitively-awarded national fellowship comes recognition and prestige. And when you enter the academic job market, hiring committees have evidence of your proposal-writing skills.

Here are 20 steps to preparing and submitting a competitive fellowship application with advice for each step in the process. If you're just starting to identify funding sources, use a searchable fellowship database.  To start the first draft of any fellowship application, use this template to answer questions about yourself and your research. Then tailor and refine this draft for specific fellowship competitions.

Once you’ve narrowed your search to one or more specific competitions, use the specific advice and checklists available for the Boren, Fulbright, HHMI, NSF etc. And finally, use the additional resources to read more about preparing successful fellowship applications.

We wish you much success with your graduate fellowship applications.