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What Is the Difference between a Fellowship and a Grant?

A fellowship is a merit-based scholarship for advanced study, often involving a stipend and mentorship. A grant, on the other hand, is a sum of money given for a specific purpose, like research or a community project. Both offer unique opportunities, but which is right for your goals?
G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

The primary difference between a fellowship and a grant is the reason for which the money is issued to a student. Both a fellowship and a grant are means by which money is awarded to a student to assist in the cost of his or her education, and neither form needs to be paid back the way a loan does. The difference, however, is that a fellowship is typically awarded to a student who has completed his or her undergraduate work and is working on a new project while also pursuing graduate study. Grants, on the hand, can be awarded to both undergraduate and graduate students and are often awarded for certain achievements.

Differences between a fellowship and a grant can be fairly minor or nonexistent in some situations. They are both forms of award money that do not need to be paid back, which separates them from loans. While a fellowship is usually awarded to a graduate student and grants can be received by both undergraduate and graduate students, there are some rare circumstances in which an undergraduate student can receive a fellowship. The major difference between a fellowship and a grant is the reason behind why a student is being awarded the money he or she is receiving.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A fellowship is typically given to a student who has completed his or her undergraduate work and is continuing his or her education. While continuing this education, however, he or she is also likely to be working on a particular research project or similar course of study. This project is usually the basis for why the student is awarded the fellowship. There are many different types of fellowships that can be received, often in particular fields of study such as biochemistry or creative writing.

A grant, on the other hand, is often awarded to both undergraduate and graduate students and is typically awarded for scholastic achievement or other criteria. Students commonly receive grants from federal programs, as scholastic assistance from schools and other organizations, and as recognition for personal achievements in fields outside of academic study. This is not based on his or her work in a specific area of study, however, which can serve as another difference between a fellowship and a grant. Otherwise, both types of financial assistance are quite similar in nature.

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