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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 and Roblin Award 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 20, 2024 (for winter 2024 or earlier).

As in the past year, two additional fellowships will be made available for Dearborn Rackham doctoral students. Those awards will be administered and awarded through the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Rackham. The Barbour Scholarship and Roblin Fellowship are not included in the University of Michigan-Dearborn competition. University of Michigan-Dearborn students may email [email protected] for more information about the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship for Dearborn students.

Selection Criteria

Fellowships will be awarded to doctoral candidates who are working toward completion of an outstanding dissertation. 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; for example, 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 expect to complete their degree during the terms of the fellowship.

Programs may have superb students who do not meet these two criteria. If so, they are encouraged to nominate such students, along with an explanation of the nominee’s outstanding and unique qualifications. Barbour or Roblin eligibility is considered a unique qualification.


January 21, 2025

Award Description

A minimum of eighty-five (85) Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships will be available for 2024-2025. Approximately 240 students are nominated each year. The fellowship provides three terms of support that may begin with spring/summer or fall term 2024. 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 $38,970 (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 (for example, Sweetland Dissertation Writing Institute).

The awards for Dearborn Rackham doctoral students will entail the same levels of stipend, tuition, required fees, and GradCare outlined above.

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 four (4) nominees online. Barbour and Roblin eligibility should be noted, but is not a requirement for any of the four nominations. 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; for example, 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. Barbour eligibility should be indicated per the Barbour nomination procedure. Roblin eligibility should be indicated per the Roblin nomination procedure. Please include the program’s requirements concerning students’ publications, if any (maximum of 1,500 words). Please note, the word count does not include references.
  • 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 including references)
  • Two 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.). List major academic recognitions, honors, memberships (including honor societies), professional papers and presentations (indicate status: submitted, accepted, to be submitted, etc.), and publications with complete citations (include only those associated with your U-M degree).

Dearborn Predoctoral Fellowship Competition Information

Questions Regarding the Combined Predoctoral, Barbour, and Roblin Competitions

Do Barbour and Roblin candidates have to defend during the fellowship year?

For the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, the Barbour Scholarship, and the Roblin Fellowship, we encourage nominations of students who are on track to complete in the next two academic years, with preference given to students who expect to complete within the terms of the fellowship.

If a student receives a Barbour or Roblin, are they no longer eligible for the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship?

Barbour and Roblin recipients are still eligible for the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, but are not eligible to receive the Barbour or Roblin again.

Do Barbour nominees have to be women?

To be considered for the Barbour, the nominee must meet the requirements for the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, and must also identify as a woman, not be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and must be from countries encompassing the large region extending from Turkey in the west to Japan and the Philippines in the east.

If the program is nominating four students to the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship Competition, does one of those nominations have to be Barbour Fellowship or Roblin Fellowship eligible?

No. None of the nominations must be Barbour or Roblin eligible, and any number of the four nominations may be Barbour or Roblin eligible.

This form should only be submitted by a graduate program representative (e.g., graduate coordinator, scholarship and fellowship manager, etc.).