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Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship Program

The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship supports outstanding doctoral students who have achieved candidacy and are actively working on dissertation research and writing. We seek to support students working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious and impactful.


Any doctoral program in the Rackham Graduate School may nominate doctoral candidates for this award. Barbour Scholarship recipients will be selected from the Predoctoral Fellowship awardees. To be eligible, students must be advanced to candidacy by the Rackham Office of Academic Records and Dissertations no later than January 6, 2020 (for Winter 2020 or earlier).

Selection Criteria

Fellowships will be awarded to students who will complete an outstanding dissertation in the year in which they hold the fellowship.Selection committees award fellowships based on their evaluation of the nominations with respect to:

  1. Quality of the nominee’s personal statement, including the research plan, progress on the project, scholarly significance of the dissertation research, and, if Barbour eligible, contribution towards the student’s home country.
  2. Results of early research or scholarship in graduate studies, as represented; e.g., through article publication, conference presentation, or other scholarly products such as websites, performances, exhibitions, etc.
  3. Perspectives of the program (as gained from the Statement of Student Achievement and Potential) and supporting faculty/scholars (as gained from the letters of recommendation).
  4. Excellence in graduate teaching and/or pedagogy/mentoring/professional leadership and service.

We strongly encourage programs to nominate a diverse group of students; the selection committees strive to award fellowships to a diverse set of recipients. Selection committees also aim to represent the disciplinary breadth of Rackham doctoral programs through the overall portfolio of awarded fellowships.

The fellowship will be preferentially awarded to nominees:

  1. Who are on track to complete their degrees in six years, excluding time spent on any Rackham approved leave of absence;
  2. Who will hold the fellowship in the final year of their doctoral studies.

Programs may have superb students who do not meet these two criteria. If so, they are generally encouraged to nominate such students for other awards. If programs opt to nominate exceptional students whose careers are atypical for a Predoctoral Fellowship, please explain why an exception should be made in the Statement of Student Achievement and Potential.


January 13, 2020

Award Description

A minimum Eighty-five (85) Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships will be available for 2020-2021. Approximately 240 students are nominated each year. The fellowship provides three terms of support that may begin with Spring/Summer or Fall term 2020. Rackham Predoctoral Fellows are expected to work full-time toward the completion of degree requirements throughout the period of the award. Fellowships include a stipend of $32,670 (currently), candidacy tuition and required fees for twelve months. GradCare health and dental insurance will be provided during the fellowship period. Students may receive only one award. Predoctoral funding cannot be used at the same time as other Rackham funded programs (e.g., Sweetland Dissertation Writing Institute).

Nomination Process

Students must be nominated by their program for this fellowship. Students should contact their program regarding their selection and nomination process. Each doctoral program may submit a list of up to 4 nominees online. Graduate programs may have nominees who by the nature of their dissertation topic would compete better in a graduate division other than the one in which the program resides; e.g., History students whose topic more properly lies in the Humanities rather than Social Sciences; Nursing students whose topic more properly lies in the Social Sciences rather than Biological and Health Sciences. If this is the case, programs may indicate on the online nomination form the division in which they would like the student to be reviewed.

Any department, interdisciplinary program or school which has an approved doctoral program in the Rackham Graduate School is invited to participate.

A complete nomination packet for the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship consists of the following.

  • A Statement of Student Achievement and Potential indicating why these particular students have been nominated and the criteria used for the nomination (Faculty reviewers find these very helpful). If the student is taking longer than six (6) years, comments must be included as to the specific reasons. Please include the program’s requirements concerning students’ publications, if any (maximum of 1,500 words).
  • Students’ personal statement describing their dissertation and any additional information they wish to bring to the attention of the selection committee. The statement should address the importance of the student’s work in the beginning two or three sentences. The statement should include the theoretical framework of the dissertation, its specific aims, methodologies (how the student is conducting the research), originality, and the significance and contribution of the project to the field. Fellowship committees place strong emphasis on this statement. The statement should be written with an interdisciplinary faculty review panel in mind; i.e., reviewers will NOT necessarily be familiar with the technical vocabulary of a specific field. (1,500 words)
    • Barbour eligible nominations should include a statement regarding the student’s expected contribution to their home country.
  • Copy of the dissertation title and dissertation abstract (plain text only). (150 words)
  • Three letters of recommendation for each nominee, one of which must come from the faculty member who is supervising the dissertation, commenting on the student’s overall performance, potential and expected time to degree. NOTE: Letters of recommendation are reviewed very carefully and carry great weight with the selection committee. Several paragraphs are more helpful to the nominee than are one or two sentences.
  • Current curriculum vitae (c.v.).

Submit Nomination Packet