Ingraham Hall, Mark Lilleleht

Mellon Foundation Area and International Studies Fellowships for Incoming Graduate Students

Please note

The award release request form for recipients of the 2013 & 2014 Graduate Student Recruitment Awards is available here. Complete details are included on the form.


The purpose of these fellowships is to recruit strong incoming graduate students who will at some point in their graduate training require a period of international fieldwork or development of language or cultural competence off the UW-Madison campus.


Fellowships are offered to prospective graduate students as an inducement to study at Wisconsin. Any UW-Madison unit that admits graduate students may nominate 3-5 recruited students (see FAQs below for more details). The fellowships are intended to help units that admit internationally oriented or area-studies-oriented graduate students to recruit their top candidates. Area and international studies are broadly construed but units interested in nominating prospective students should review the Guiding Principles and determine fit on that basis.

Fellowship Details:

These are one-time awards of $5,000 to be used in the student’s first three years of graduate school (typically taken in the summer), timing determined in consultation with advisor. They may be combined with other funding sources.


Nominations for 2014 awards were due by January 27, 2014. No late submissions will be accepted. The review committee will make its decisions about offers by February 3, 2014 and notify nominating units shortly thereafter so that they can include fellowship offers in their admission/recruitment letters.

Nomination Procedure:

Units wishing to make nominations should download the nomination form and complete & submit as directed. Units are required to submit a separate form for each nominee. Students may not apply directly; nominations will only be accepted from admitting units.


Nominations will be reviewed by a committee of UW-Madison faculty members. Graduate student yield is hard to predict, but we anticipate that no more than 50 percent of the nominees who are offered a scholarship will come to Wisconsin. Thus the committee is likely to approve about 50 nominations in the expectation of making 20 to 25 awards of $5,000 each. Because the awards are tenable for a three-year period after matriculation, pay-out will be gradual. Thus the International Institute plans to be reasonably aggressive in Year 1 of the program, making adjustments in subsequent years if necessary (for example if yields are higher or lower than 50 percent).

A Few Frequently Asked Questions...

Are there any substantial changes from last year's nomination process?

There have been a few changes made since last year. Most are fairly minor but all nominating units should be sure to review this year's nomination form closely. There are two major changes worth highlighting, however:

1) Nominating units are now allowed 1,000 characters to make the case in support of each nominee (last year there was a 500 character limit).

2) Nominating units can nominate 3, 4, or 5 incoming graduate students based on each unit's average enrollment over the three previous years (2011, 2012, and 2013). Enrollment numbers for each of the three years should be reported on the nomination form which will automatically compute the 3-year average. Those units enrolling an average of 10 or fewer may nominate up to 3 incoming students, those enrolling 11-20 may make up to 4 nominations, while those units enrolling 21 or more students on average may nominate up to 5 incoming students.

Are these fellowships designed for international students?

Not in particular, though international students are as eligible as anyone else. The fellowships are for students whose training and research will have a significant area studies or international studies focus, in any discipline. Thus, any admissions candidate is eligible if his or her work as a graduate student is going to fall into the broad category of area and international studies. Thus, an engineering student from China who plans research on polymers would not be eligible, whereas a student from China who will be working on, say, East Asian history, or public health policy outside the United States, or Chinese legal systems, probably would be a good candidate.

Our department has master’s degree students who are applying to continue to a PhD. We also have applicants to the PhD program from other master’s programs on campus. Are they eligible?

The spirit of these awards is to help departments recruit top admissions candidates in area and international studies, persons who probably are being recruited by other universities and whom we’d rather not lose to the competition. Students currently enrolled at Wisconsin are not automatically ineligible. After all, it's sometimes the case that one of our own undergraduates will rank toward the top of an admissions list but also would look good and has applied to, say, Berkeley or NYU. Likewise, some MA/MS students apply elsewhere to do their PhD work but are attractive candidates here as well.

We do not want to see these fellowships used as bonuses for students already enrolled at Wisconsin and highly unlikely to leave, no matter how good or promising such students might be, and no matter how much they could use a research fellowship.

Only the department knows whether a given student, finishing, say, an MA program here, is on the market for different PhD programs. Only the department has a sense of the probability of that person leaving. Departments should put up persons who meet the spirit of these fellowships and the spirit is definitely recruitment: attracting top admissions candidates to Wisconsin.

If departments do this, the great majority of their nominees are going to be applicants from outside. If now and then there's a student already here who's great, whom Wisconsin could lose, and for whom a $5,000 research scholarship stands a good chance of making the difference, then the department, still abiding by the spirit of the awards, certainly should feel free to make that nomination.

About that 1000-character limit on the form for the supporting case... It'd be helpful to have some guidance about what we should include in that short paragraph. Do we need to spend that space connecting the candidate to a prospective advisor? Should we simply state the nature of the international work that is anticipated? It just seems like an awfully short bit of text.

Sing the applicant's praises. Definitely note where in the world the applicant is likely to work, and thus where (or on what sort of language learning program or the like) the applicant may wish to use the $5,000. It's understood that this may be speculative, but if the applicant is a Korea specialist, or at least an East Asia specialist, who will certainly need to undertake fieldwork or in-situ learning of some kind in East Asia, say so. It can't hurt to mention who on the faculty is likely to emerge as the advisor, or which two or three are likeliest. You can also highlight the particular achievements of the candidate and what would make him/her attractive to "rival" programs at other schools. You can also note whether the department plans to offer the applicant X years of TA support, has put the person up for a University Fellowship, or whatever the case may be. Our selection committee will be eager to invest in admissions candidates in whom the department is highly invested.

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