How to Write a Cover Letter for a Fellowship

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Graduate and postgraduate students often must pursue a fellowship for financial support to conduct their research or to complete training or internships necessary for school and their career. A cover letter is typically the first thing the recipient reads in your fellowship application, so it needs to be convincing and well-written.

Start a new document on your computer and choose a cover letter template if one is available. Make a header that includes your name (in larger and bolder font), followed by your address, phone number, email address and website (if applicable).

Type a formal salutation that addresses the recipient by name. This may mean you have to do extra research to find out who will be considering your letter and application. It is considered bad form to open a cover letter with a generic salutation, and your goal is to establish a personal connection with the individual who will be deciding on whether or not to grant your fellowship.

Type two to three sentences for the first paragraph to explain who you are, which university or organization you are a student or member of and what type of fellowship you are applying for.

Type five to seven sentences as your middle paragraph. This section should explain the work your or your organization is performing, its purpose and its benefits, and a short history of the work you have accomplished so far. In a polite but direct tone, provide a budget estimate of how much you will need granted in your fellowship to cover program costs as well as living expenses. Also provide information about your living situation, including housing, transportation and location. Explain that a more thorough summary of your project is contained in your fellowship proposal.

Type two to four sentences as your closing paragraph. Indicate that your resume (if required) and fellowship proposal are enclosed, and specify the method with which you would prefer to be contacted to discuss the opportunity further. Thank the recipient for his consideration and time.


Be clear in explaining your needs, but in a polite tone that cannot be taken as desperate. It is important that your fellowship cover letter convince the recipient of your responsibility and professionalism.