What Is the Difference between a Fellowship and a Scholarship?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Both a fellowship and a scholarship are considered grants, and sometimes the terms may be used interchangeably. Most fellowships are also scholarships, but scholarships may not be fellowships. The differences can actually be variable and depend on the grant-giving organization.

Scholarships are generally awarded to undergraduate students to help cover the cost of completing their education.
Scholarships are generally awarded to undergraduate students to help cover the cost of completing their education.

Scholarships tend to be given to undergraduate college students, primarily for the purpose of general education expenses. Like many of these easy scholarships, they may be limited as to the type of major a student has, but most are general and award gifts of money for education based on superior school performance. Some also take need into account, or may require specific skills. The Miss USA pageant and Miss America pageant, for example, are both scholarship programs, and the women who win these pageants receive money to continue their education at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Medical students may receive a fellowship to complete training while earning their graduate degree.
Medical students may receive a fellowship to complete training while earning their graduate degree.

Most scholarships are based on application only, however, as well as any qualifications that make a person particularly eligible to receive the grant. There are many peculiar conditions that may make someone eligible for a scholarship, such as her last name, her status as a single parent, the fact that she has a disabling condition, or her specific research goals as a student. More general scholarships awarded by countries and states may be given to students who will attend school full time, have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of at least a B, and who can demonstrate financial need.

There are many scholarship opportunities available to single parents.
There are many scholarship opportunities available to single parents.

One difference between a fellowship and a scholarship is that most fellowships are not based on need. They are usually based on skill, GPA, and qualifications to work in a certain field. Fellowships are also usually payment for some type of work, such as teaching at the college level while obtaining a master’s degree or Ph.D, or doing extra training in a hospital to earn board certification as a specialist in a certain field of medicine after completing medical school. This money tends to pay for internships or fieldwork, so that students, usually at the graduate level, can enhance their training in their field of interest.

There are some paid internships available to students at the undergraduate level and could be considered either fellowships or scholarships. Many of the country’s top museums offer fellowship and intern opportunities to students at the undergraduate level, usually in their junior or senior year of college.

The fellowship further implies a limited timeline and a stated period of months in which work or internships will be completed and people will be paid. The main difference here between a fellowship and a scholarship is that most scholarships last for at least a semester in school, though some may be given more generally to pay for school expenses. Fellowships can last for a few days, a few weeks, a couple of months, a year, or a couple of years, depending on the scope of the work involved, and they normally pay in increments, by monthly stipend, instead of awarding the total amount of money at one time.

Scholarships might be used to pay for school supplies.
Scholarships might be used to pay for school supplies.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon166423

This is a very helpful answer. I wasn't sure if I could claim that I received a fellowship (vs. a scholarship) for a doctoral program, but I guess it does qualify.

anon150903

Thanks a lot. Great answer.

anon78011

great post.

anon68155

Thinks a lot. That's a good answer.

anon64259

hey,thanks. This information totally solves the doubts in anyone's mind. thanks so much.

anon62537

Thanks!

anon48872

Great answer, thanks.

anon48104

Great answer! It totally explains it! Thanks!

anon43944

I found this piece pretty much helpful to what I was seeking answers for. Many thanks

anon23291

Many thanks, at first I thought fellowship and scholarship are practically the same.

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