Main Difference Between Fellowship and Scholarship

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When considering the two terms fellowship vs scholarship, it generally means financial aid given to a student or a researcher who wishes to do research in something new. However, there is a difference between scholarship and fellowship.

Let’s check out the subtle difference between these two terms.

The government offers several schemes for helping meritorious students to study further. Two of these schemes are fellowships and scholarships. Both are funded by government or any other organizations.

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What is a Scholarship

  • Scholarship is a kind of grant that is offered to students to help them do better in academic achievement. They are typically offered to undergraduate students, though also available for graduate level studies.
  • The grant or financial aid is offered to students for general studies, rather than research.
  • While considering the question of what is a scholarship, the aid is given based on merit as well as need and category, depending on the grantor. The grantor also defines the procedure for availing the scholarship.
  • It can be offered by the university, the government or other organizations for supporting students in their education. You can receive a scholarship by being a member of an organization or win it through some contest.
  • The scholarship funds given can be used by students for tuition fees as well as books and other expenses.
  • There is no interest on the amount given and the student does not have to repay it. The amount can vary from $100 to more than $120,000.
  • Scholarships are also renewable, so students can renew it year after year till they complete their studies.

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What is a Fellowship

  • A fellowship is also a kind of grant given to students and can be used by them for payment of tuition fees, books and other related costs.
  • This grant also need not be returned.
  • However, these grants are given for doctorate degrees, research or a master’s degree. Though some fellowships are also available for pre baccalaureate research work, most are for graduate level post baccalaureate research projects.
  • They are not given based on need or for contest winners. They are mainly merit based and the student must demonstrate some kind of achievement in the selected field or show some potential in order to receive a fellowship.
  • When discussing what is a fellowship, it can last from anywhere between two months to even two years.
  • Research students receive funding for their project, anywhere between $5000 to $50,000 along with living, travel and other related expenses.
  • Recently, professional fellowships (PFP) are also being offered on merit basis to fund international work experience, supporting a social enterprise or for a self designed project.

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Main Difference Between Fellowship and Scholarship

  • What is a Fellowship? Fellowship is a scholarship offered on the basis of merit. Scholarship is a grant or financial aid based on merit, need or category.
  • Fellowship is mostly granted to graduates for research. Scholarship is usually granted to undergraduates.
  • Fellowship usually involves commitment in the form of internship or some other service, whereas Scholarship do not generally include any internship or service commitment. Fellowship usually involves an exchange in the form of teaching, some extra training in case of Medical Fellowship and so on.
  • Fellowships are paid in the form of increments, such as monthly stipends, whereas scholarships are offered as a one time payment or payment for school expenses.
  • In case of Fellowship, financial aid may be provided but it is not always necessary. Scholarship always means there is financial aid, in the form of aid for tuition fees, living allowances and so on and money is always included.


  • For instance, if you receive a scholarship at the Ohio University for doing research, you are sure to receive money to conduct the research or study. Or when Harvard announces scholarships for its undergraduate students or any other students, it means that the University or the foundation will cover the costs, at least partly.
  • On the other hand, a fellowship is more of a status in the research institute and may not include financial aid. Oxford, at times, announces fellowship programs and only offers a desk and a computer at their library. In such cases, researchers will have to pay for the costs themselves while receiving the fellowship. The researcher is accepted in the form of a fellow in the college and can access the library and other research facilities. It might be just a status without any salary or financial aid.

Types of Scholarships

Scholarship money could be offered from different sources.

  • What is a scholarship money? It can be a government, a corporation, university or any other organization that awards the scholarship.
  • Many philanthropists also stipulate scholarships in their wills. For example, the Rhodes scholarship comes from the diamond baron and colonist, Cecil Rhodes, who founded Zimbabwe. He formed a trust for paying for excellent students for their studies in the Oxford University every year.

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Types of Fellowship

Fellowships can generally be classified into 3 main types:

  • Pre dissertation fellowship. It covers the student typically for 3 years, which is enough time to complete their coursework and make preparations for candidacy.
  • Dissertation research fellowship. This also covers 3 years, which is enough time for obtaining proposal approval, enter candidacy, collect data etc.
  • Dissertation completion fellowship. This is restricted to twelve months for finishing the dissertation. It is usually awarded in the form of a stipend allowing the student to concentrate on completing the dissertation and defending it.

Wrap Up – Scholarship vs Fellowship

What is a scholarship? What is a fellowship? Though there are subtle differences between the two, fellowship and scholarship, both are essentially grants given to students. Both offer encouragement to students, as they are in the form of a financial aid and also give them emotional support. Both of them don’t have to be repaid.

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It can make a big difference to college students. If you get a scholarship, you can focus on your career instead of worrying about how you will pay off a student loan. You will find it easier to achieve career goals. It reduces the risk of dropping out and you can consider a better institution. You also get more time for studying, which leads to better grades. Remember, the key to winning such grants is:

  • Apply early
  • Check university sites for opportunities
  • Look beyond universities while searching for scholarship/fellowship providers

It’s worth it to keep applying in spite of receiving rejection letters, because you don’t know which one will finally succeed.

And finally, never, never give up on your dreams! All the Best!

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