Understanding the Difference between Scholarship and Fellowship

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Financial aid options play a crucial role in supporting students and researchers aiming to continue their studies outside India. Among the various forms of financial assistance available, scholarships and fellowships stand out as the most popular options. Understanding the differences between these two can help students make informed decisions about their educational and career paths while studying abroad.

Understanding the Purpose

Scholarships and fellowships both aim to provide financial support to individuals seeking to continue their education or research endeavors. However, they serve different purposes. There are different types of scholarships that are typically awarded based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria, to help students pursue undergraduate or graduate studies. On the other hand, fellowships are granted to support research or advanced study in specific fields, offering opportunities for professional development and scholarly exploration.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility criteria for scholarships and fellowships vary depending on the provider and the specific program. Scholarships may consider factors such as academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and financial need. Fellowships, on the other hand, often prioritize applicants with a demonstrated commitment to research excellence or contributions to their field of study.


Another key distinction between scholarships and fellowships lies in their duration. Scholarships are typically awarded for a specific academic term or year, providing financial assistance to cover tuition fees, and sometimes living expenses. Fellowships, however, can span a broader timeframe, ranging from a few months to several years, to support research projects, advanced study, or professional development opportunities.

Key Benefits of Scholarships:

  • Financial assistance to cover tuition fees, and sometimes living expenses.
  • Recognition of academic achievement or other criteria.
  • Opportunity to get either partially-funded or fully-funded scholarships.

Key Benefits of Fellowships:

  • Support for research projects, allowing recipients to pursue advanced research in their field.
  • Opportunities for professional development, including mentorship, training, and networking.
  • Great recognition within the academic or professional community, enhancing the recipient’s credibility and visibility. These are some of the significant benefits of fellowship opportunities.

Let’s understand with examples:

The Rhodes Scholarship, awarded to outstanding students from around the world to pursue postgraduate study at the University of Oxford, is a prestigious scholarship that recognizes academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to service.

The Fulbright Fellowship, administered by the U.S. Department of State, offers opportunities for international exchange and research collaboration, supporting individuals in various fields to conduct research, study, or teach abroad.


In conclusion, scholarships and fellowships serve as valuable resources for students and researchers seeking financial support to pursue their academic goals. While both offer assistance, they differ in their purpose, eligibility criteria, and duration. By understanding these distinctions and exploring available opportunities, individuals can make informed decisions about their educational and career paths, maximizing their potential for success and impact.


Which is better, a scholarship or a fellowship?

We can’t compare the scholarship and fellowship as the purposes they serve are different. If you are seeking financial assistance for graduate or undergraduate studies you should look for scholarships. If you are planning for research/ PhD, you must seek fellowship opportunities.

How can I find scholarships and fellowships for my field?

Consider checking the websites of your target universities and checking for scholarship and fellowship opportunities. Also, check out online databases that consist of information about scholarships from different universities.

What is the typical application process for scholarships and fellowships?

The process starts with research from your end. After understanding the eligibility criteria, submit your application. Try to fulfill the eligibility criteria and follow up continuously to become eligible for a scholarship or fellowship.

Is fellowship equivalent to PhD?

No, a fellowship is a financial grant given to an individual for the academic pursuit. On the other hand, a PhD is a degree that is pursued after postgraduation.

What is the difference between internships and fellowships?

Internships are structured training programs that aim to gain hands-on experience before taking up a job. On the other hand, fellowships are academic grants provided to pursue higher academic aspirations like research/Ph.D.

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