CALS graduate student fellowship incentive program

Graduate fellowships may be university-awarded, federally funded, or funded by independent organizations. Portable fellowships are also referred to as external fellowships and can award funding based on academic need, academic record, merit, or a combination of criteria. Through portable graduate fellowships, organizations make it possible for many students to fund their graduate studies with a great deal of independence, while institutional fellowships are given by a specific educational institution where students are expected to conduct research or earn their degrees. Portable fellowships are awarded directly to students. The source of the funding can be federal fellowship programs, charitable or research foundations, or other entities.

Portable graduate fellowships, unlike university-funded institutional fellowships, can be applied to the institution of higher education of the students’ choice. While some fellowships require students to study at an approved school, a portable fellowship affords students much more freedom than an institutional fellowship from a particular university. Portable graduate fellowships allow students to be more discerning when selecting both a program and a major professor, as the students are empowered with both the funds and the choices necessary to enroll in the program that aligns best with their research interests and goals

Purpose of the CALS Graduate Student Fellowship Incentive Program

  1. Encourage current CALS graduate students to apply for external fellowship programs
  2. Enhance our ability to recruit more students who are already awarded portable graduate fellowships, such as those awarded by federal agencies or private foundations.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. The incentive policy applies to all M.S. and Ph.D. students who have already been awarded a full portable external fellowship that covers both stipend and tuition for a minimum of two years of study.
  2. External funding sources include all sources outside of Virginia Tech.
  3. Graduate student support through research grants and contracts and awards such as IGERT that are initiated by faculty are not included in this incentive program.


CALS will provide a one-time $4,000 add-on incentive supplement to the fellowship award during the first year of graduate study to each student who is recruited to Virginia Tech, has already been awarded an external fellowship, and is enrolled in one of our academic units. The one-time $4,000 add-on incentive supplement will also be available to students already enrolled in a CALS graduate program who apply for and receive an external fellowship covering stipend and tuition for at least two years of their graduate program. The success of this pilot program will be evaluated after both year one and year two. If successful, extending the award of the incentive beyond the first year of the graduate study will be considered.


At the time of student recruitment, in consultation with the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, the academic unit will extend the offer of the fellowship incentive to eligible graduate students to be paid during their first year of graduate studies. Current CALS graduate students who apply for and obtain external scholarship support for their second and subsequent years of study will become eligible for supplemental support during the academic year that their external fellowship support is first awarded.

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