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Graduate School

Presidential Fellowship

Presidential Fellows are part of an engaged community of scholars pursuing doctoral and MFA degrees across a wide range of academic disciplines. As a Fellow, you would receive additional funding, professional development, and community designed to enhance the value of your graduate studies.

The Award

Open to prospective graduate students in any doctoral or MFA program, the fellowship provides a stipend in addition to that which is offered by the academic department.  Renewal of the stipend each semester is contingent upon participation in professional development seminars and adequate progress towards degree completion.

Doctoral Fellows

$40,000 over four years

MFA Fellows

$25,000 over five semesters 

Nomination Deadlines

  • Round 1: January 26,  2024
  • Round 2:  March 1, 2024


Nominees must...

  • Have been admitted to a doctoral or MFA program for the Fall 2024 semester. 

Submitting a Nomination

Graduate Directors can only nominate prospective Fellows after they have been admitted to their graduate program.

Graduate Directors must submit a nomination letter on behalf of the nominee. In the case that the nominee will be advised by the Graduate Director, all Department nominations should come from the Department Chair. In the case that a prospective Fellow may be advised by the Department Chair, all Department nominees should come from a neutral third-party Department representative. The nomination letter must include the following table (in the nomination letter from the department) indicating the specific anticipated funding package from the program. Failure to provide this information will disqualify the student from consideration.

Academic Year

% Tuition to be Abated1

Stipend from Program

Additional Guaranteed Funding from Outside the Academic Program2

Total Stipend3

Standard Level of Funding for PhD/MFA Student in Program4

























1 Tuition abatement from the academic program. Abatement provided by the student (from USC employment or the military, for example) does not count.

Must identify the source.

Sum of 'Stipend from Program' and 'Additional Guaranteed Funding' columns.

Provide for informational purposes. Write 'N/A' if your program does not have a standard funding level.

The program must provide the fellow with whichever is greater:

  • 50% tuition and 50% fee abatement plus an $8,000 annual stipend OR
  • The standard level of funding for a graduate assistant in the academic unit 

Fellows will be selected based on the following criteria, so it is imperative that the nomination letter highlights this information: the qualifications and characteristics of the student; including linkages between the prospective Fellow, potential advisor, and other entities on campus; the student's potential contribution to the mission of the University/College/Program; unique qualities of the incoming student that make them an outstanding addition to the Presidential Fellowship cohort; track record of significant accomplishments and special interests; exceptional creativity; commitment to improving the lives of others; and capacity for leadership. We especially encourage programs to nominate students from diverse backgrounds and underserved populations.

The only components of the student’s application that will be reviewed by Fellowships and Scholarships Committee of the Graduate Council are the student's personal statement and CV or resume, and letters of recommendation from The Graduate School application package. These items, along with the nomination letter from the department, must be included as part of the nomination packet submitted by the Graduate Director, who must email all documents as one PDF to Wright Culpepper at with ‘Presidential Fellowship Nomination’ in the subject line. The Graduate Director should not provide any other documents, except for those listed above. Programs may submit a maximum of two nominations. Nominations should not be ranked but must be submitted in the same round.

How Nominations Work

Selections for the Fall 2024 cohort will be made throughout the Spring 2024 semester. The two nomination deadlines are provided to accommodate the wide range of application deadlines across our doctoral and MFA programs.

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