Difference Between Scholarship and Fellowship


Sristy Sharma
Updated on Dec 12, 2022 03:04 PM IST

Fellowships and scholarships are extremely important financial support for international students. Read below to understand the difference between fellowships and scholarships, their types, application process, and the top study abroad scholarships and fellowships.

Difference Between Scholarship and Fellowship

The difference between scholarship and fellowship is something that often confuses international students. Do these two terms mean the same thing? After all, they are both financial grants awarded to university students. However, this is not the case.

Fellowships and scholarships are as different from each other as possible. While one is awarded to students enrolled in universities to study, the other is granted to scholars to pursue research in selected fields of specialisation. As the basic purpose of the grants and to whom they are granted change, there occurs a difference between scholarship and fellowship.

This article has been devised to highlight how scholarship and fellowship are different and help students understand which they should apply for at their current academic stage. 

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What are University Scholarships?

University scholarships are referred to as the financial support awarded to a student to complete their studies while maintaining a good academic record. 

It is a fact that higher education abroad can be extremely burdensome in terms of finances. Furthermore, many students often give up on their dream of getting a quality education due to a lack of finances. Universities are generally of the opinion that if a student has a potential for excellence and has proved their dedication in their preceding academics or related field, then lack of finances must not prove a hindrance. Hence, universities, award such selected students for financial assistance during their course of study.

These awards are, however, not without condition. Students are required to maintain the academic conditions of excellence, growth, and development, throughout their course of study. The absence of the preceding condition can lead to the revocation of the scholarship award.

What is a Fellowship?

With a focus on the professional development of the fellow, a fellowship is a financial assistance awarded by the institution to those graduates who wish to gain excellence and experience in a specialised field.

Usually, once a student completes their Master's (research) or PhD courses, they can opt to apply for employment opportunities. Certain students might choose to rather go for research in order to gain excellence and additional experience in their specialised field of study. Such students can apply for a grant or financial assistance from their university or any other university. The university assesses their past performance and the proposal outline of their research and grants the student fellowship accordingly.

During the fellowship period, the student can work on their research while staying as a resident in the university, and the university takes care of all the financial requirements of the research project along with additional requirements.

Fellowship, like scholarship, is also not without conditions. The student has to regularly show updates and results of their research and prove that they are going in the right and fruitful direction, or their fellowship grant can be revoked by the university.

Highlights of Scholarship vs Fellowship

Here is an overview of the difference between scholarship and fellowship:

Comparison Parameters



Qualification Level

Bachelors, Masters, and PhD

Masters research and PhD.


Lessen the burden of finances for education

Assist scholars with finances for research projects


Means or Merit-based

Usually merit-based

Awarding Authorities

University, Governments, external organisations

University, Governments, external organisations

100% funding

Rarely possible

Common occurrence 


One year to entire course duration

Multiple years of funding


Coverage towards cost of studying

Generally a monthly stipend and a tuition waiver

Selection Interviews


Necessary part of selection process

Financial Partnership

None in scholarships;

Possible in case of aids

Partnership in financial gains of research, as decided in agreement

Are Scholarship and Fellowship Related?

No, a scholarship and fellowship are not at all interrelated. Even though certain bases of both the grants are similar, those awarded and the purpose of these two grants create a huge difference between scholarship and fellowship.

Scholarships are granted to ease the financial burden of higher education on a student. It is true that the university shall benefit if the student eventually excels in their career and life, but the basic purpose is still more humanitarian. It is devoted to education for the most part.

On the other hand, a fellowship is partly a partnership. Research projects, when successful, result in huge academic, research, and reputational accolades. While growth and advancement are still a reason behind grants, there is a sense of profit as well. By financially assisting a good research project, the university ensures that it shall share proportionate, financial credits with the researcher.

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How to Apply for Fellowship vs Scholarship

Application process for both fellowship and scholarship abroad is not easy. Firstly, the conditions of the grants are extensive, and the time taken by universities in assessing the application and replying to the students may extend to a year.

Although there are ample cases of fast processes, the delays and extended processes are also similarly common. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for students to ensure that they complete the application process as flawlessly as possible.

There is a difference between scholarship and fellowship application processes as well, which makes it important that the application processes of both are discussed separately.

How to Apply for a Scholarship?

To apply for a scholarship, students need to follow the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Students must first check the eligibility criteria of the various scholarships granted or announced by the university for the academic term.

Step 2: Students must select the scholarship programmes which are best suited to them. While doing the same, they must consider whether they fulfil the eligibility criteria, check the award amount and its relevancy for them, the future terms and conditions, and the relevant details, dates, and deadlines.

Step 3: Students must collect all relevant academic transcripts, standardised test scores (if required), scholarship essays, and letter(s) of recommendation.

Step 4: After all required documents have been collected, the student must submit the application to the office handling the scholarships, or as directed by the program.

Step 5: Lastly, they must await the reply of university authorities.

How to Apply for a Fellowship?

University Fellowship or academic fellowship application process can be broken down into the following steps:

Step 1: The student must research the universities which grant academic fellowships and the fields which they consider for these fellowships. During the research period, the student needs to focus on aspects like how much they can expect from the university or have they been granted fellowships previously in their field, the amount and conditions of the university (if any are announced), etc.

Step 2: Once the student has shortlisted universities offering fellowships, they must start preparing their application. For the same, they will be required to submit:

  • academic transcripts of their Master’s research or PhD,

  • relevant standardised test scores, 

  • letters of recommendation or references, 

  • statements of their PGTs (teachers), 

  • a proposal outline of their research, 

  • a Personal statement and/or Statement of Purpose stating their inspiration to do research in chosen field and purpose of applying to chosen university, among other things.

Step 3: Once the application is compiled, they need to submit the application to shortlisted universities, addressing it to the recommended department(s). Post that, the student needs to await the reply and work on their interview presentation. 

Different Types of Fellowship and Scholarship

Fellowships and scholarships are classified based on their granting authority, amount, basis of the grant, etc. As it has been with other parameters, there is a difference between scholarship and fellowship classifications as well.

Types of Scholarships

The various types of scholarships available for international students in the global higher education industry are given below:

  • Merit and Means-based Scholarships: Scholarships which are granted on the basis of academic excellence, financial needs, or both, are called merit or means-based scholarships.

  • Full Scholarships/Partial Scholarships: All scholarships are neither equal nor do they cover all the expenses of the students. On the basis of expenses covered or the amount awarded, the scholarships can be differentiated. Full scholarships cover all or 100% of the educational costs of a student while partial scholarships grant a certain amount as an award or only cover selected expenses. 

  • Student-specific Scholarships: Scholarships can also be differentiated on the basis of students and their backgrounds. For instance, gender-based scholarships are awarded to students belonging to a particular gender. 

  • Entry-based Scholarships: Entry-based scholarships do not require separate applications as they are considered directly on the basis of the academic achievements of the student. 

Types of Fellowships

Academic fellowships granted by the universities could be differentiated as:

  • Discipline-based Fellowships: Fellowships are often based on the discipline to which the research project belongs. At certain universities, all departments grant fellowships while others award fellowships in only selected disciplines.

  • Relationship-based Fellowships: Fellowships can be classified on the basis of relationships between the university and scholars as well. Open fellowships are available for students while alumni fellowships are only for students who have graduated from the university.

  • Collaborative Fellowships: Fellowships are not bound by the rules of monogamous relationships between universities and scholars. Under multi-institutional fellowships, scholars could be co-funded by two or more universities, and in cohort fellowships, two or more scholars are funded for a single research project. These combinations could be affected in any manner.

  • Flexible Fellowships: These fellowships allow the scholar to return to the university and work on a single project.

Benefits of Fellowship and Scholarship

Both fellowship and scholarship help students in terms of academic development, financial assistance, and community involvement. However, the benefits they provide to students are not the same, as there is a difference between scholarship and fellowship.

Here are all the possible benefits that students can enjoy as awardees of a scholarship or fellowship. Since there is a difference between scholarship and fellowship, their benefits have been discussed separately.

Benefits of Scholarships

The benefits of scholarships can be listed as:

  • Scholarships reduce the financial burden of studying abroad, allowing students to finish their studies stress-free.

  • Scholarships further help in building a strong academic profile, which again leads to a higher number of employment opportunities.

  • Scholarships also enhance the resume of the student, allowing recruiters to put them in a superior position to other fellow candidates. Recruiters also gather the impression that the student is dedicated, hardworking, and equipped with the right skills for the role.

  • Scholarships are not loan grants, and they are not required to be repaid to the university. 

Note: It must be noted that financial aid and scholarships are different, and students must ensure that their award is a scholarship if they do not want to amass debt.

Benefits of Fellowships

Academic fellowships could benefit an awardee in the following ways:

  • Scholar's financial burdens are lessened.

  • Scholars can earn themselves further sponsorships and fellowships on the basis of one successful research project.

  • Connection and network growth are common weak points of scholars, which universities help in maintaining in better ways.

  • Universities help in getting proper exposure to the research project and scholars in the relevant fields and industries.

Top Study Abroad Scholarships

Some of the top study abroad scholarships that international students can apply for are:

Name of Scholarship

Offered by

GREAT Scholarships India

All UK universities

Cornell University TATA Scholarship

Cornell University

Future of Change India Scholarship (UNSW Sydney)

The University of New South Wales

Fulbright-Kalam Climate Scholarship

All US universities

The Inlaks Shivdasani Scholarships

USA, UK, and European universities

Top Fellowships to Study Abroad

Given below are some of the top fellowships for Indian students looking forward to study abroad PhD or Masters courses:


Offered by

McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellowships

University of Melbourne

Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Fellowships

All US universities

Brandon Research Fellowship in International Law

Lauterpacht Centre for International Law

Mitchell Center Postdoctoral Fellowship

University of Pennsylvania

DAAD Research Fellowships

German universities

As we reach the end of the discussion, students must have got the answer to one of the most commonly-asked questions ‘What’s the difference between scholarship and fellowship?’. They would now have an idea about how to approach the two areas of financial help available to them. Having said that, students must invest a significant amount of time in researching the different scholarships or fellowships before applying for them.

You may connect to our study abroad experts for consultation by writing to us at abroad@collegedekho.com.

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Can I apply for both scholarship and fellowship together?

No, you cannot apply for both scholarship and fellowship together. Both are financial support for a different base and cause, however, no scholar is allowed to apply for both at the same time. As a student ending Masters research or PhD on a scholarship, you can submit an application for a fellowship.

Are foreign scholarships available for PhD courses?

Yes, foreign scholarships are available for PhD courses. Scholarships help university students bear the educational costs including the tuition fee and other expenses. Scholarships are a great way to cut down costs, especially in the case of study abroad. International students can apply for PhD scholarships after they have done thorough research on the available scholarships for the particular academic year.

Is fellowship worth applying for?

Yes, fellowship are worth applying for, especially for scholars who want to study abroad. Fellowships will not only help them bear the costs of research but they can also save during the research and fellowship. Successful scholars often get higher and more lucrative offers in comparison to graduates with at par experience in the industry.

Can I apply for fellowship during my Masters?

Yes, you can apply for fellowships during your Masters. Students who wish to use fellowship during their Master’s course duration can apply for it with a research outline, provided their opted course is a Master’s research course. International students can apply for PhD scholarships after they have done thorough research on the available scholarships for the particular academic year.

Can I get paid while I have fellowship?

Yes, you can get paid while you have an active fellowship. You can work part-time or even participate in university-based programs to ensure that you are earning even during your ongoing research. The amount earned will be lesser in comparison to graduates working actively in the industry. However, you would be able to use it wholly upon yourself.

How long does a fellowship last?

The length of a fellowship depends on the terms of the fellowship. There is a wide range of  fellowships that have a determined criterion and are clear about their duration, whereas, there are those that consider the research outline submitted by the scholar and stipulate an average time for which the fellowship shall remain active.

Is financial aid same as scholarship?

No, financial aid is not same as scholarship. A financial aid refers to financial support just like a scholarship, however, the amount is like a loan or debt for the student. Students have to repay the amount that has been credited as financial aid, whereas, a scholarship is a financial grant which does not require any repayment on behalf of the student.

What is the difference between Chevening fellowships and Chevening scholarships?

The difference between Chevening fellowships and Chevening scholarships is the same as the difference between fellowships and scholarships. While fellowships are grants issued to a student as a support to complete the research project based on their field of study, scholarships are financial support issued to help complete the course and achieve a qualification.

Can I get more than one fellowship at a time?

You may get more than one fellowship at a time, however, they cannot operate separately. Even if more than one fellowship application is approved and universities or university departments are ready to grant both fellowships, a single agreement shall have to be drawn. Hence,  only one fellowship grant shall be awarded eventually.

Can I get more than one scholarship at a time?

No, you cannot get more than one scholarship at a time. Students can apply for multiple scholarships but they would not be allowed to become a beneficiary of more than one scholarship during a certain period. Applicants have to pick one scholarship in case they have been selected for more than one. 

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