All of us know how expensive graduate and post graduate degrees are. Fellowships are a sure-shot starting point for students to find returns on their investment in education.  Fellowships are monetary awards that are given to scholars to help provide funding for their education. They are short-term opportunities, sponsored by an organization with an interest in advancing the field that is usually for a duration of a few months to a few years and focuses on the individual’s professional field of study.  

Students have different reasons when it comes to applying for a fellowship program. While some may be looking for an opportunity to do further work and research in their chosen field, others seek it to compensate for the financial aspect of the graduate degree. Thus, a fellowship can be considered a merit-based scholarship for advanced study of an academic subject.  

So, why should we, as students pursue a program like this? How would a Fellowship benefit us in the future? 

About a Fellowship Program:  

There is a growing roster of merit-based professional fellowship opportunities and programs that provide entry into a first job or career change, fund international work experiences, cultivate emerging leaders and changemakers, and support self-designed projects and social enterprises. Professional fellowships are funded by a wide range of organizations including foundations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, universities, media, and corporations, thus taking care of the monetary aspect that a degree needs. Fellowships often provide us with the resources, support, and professional networks to pursue goals that we might not otherwise be able to achieve in a typical job or internship.  

Scope in India: 

In recent years, many postdoctoral fellowship programs have become available in India, both at the national as well as international levels. Postdoctoral research is seen as a crucial step for Ph.D. holders who want to gain more research experience in academia after a doctoral degree, and if one wants to join a faculty in research institutes and universities – a year or two of postdoctoral training is considered an essential requirement to do so.  

Some of the fellowship programs in India that are ongoing for the current year, 2022 are:

  1.   CSIR-Nehru Science Postdoctoral Fellowship:

    Being funded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), this 2-year postdoctoral fellowship program focuses on the subject areas of Basic Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Agriculture. Any Indian nationals, Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), or Foreign nationals with a Ph.D. degree obtained in the last 3 years or who are about to submit their Ph.D. thesis can apply for this opportunity. The amount that the aspirant will receive for this program is INR 65,000 every month. 

  2. National Post Doctoral Fellowship (N-PDF): 

    Being funded by the SERB-Science and Engineering Research Board, India, this 2-year postdoctoral fellowship program focuses on the subject areas of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Any Indian citizen who holds a Ph.D./M.D./M.S. degree (Ph.D. in Science or Engineering or M.D or M.S degree in medicine)  or is about to submit their thesis for the same can apply for this opportunity. The amount that the aspirant will receive for this program is INR 55,000 every month, for those who have already received their degree and INR 35,000 for those who are yet to receive it.

  3. UGC-Post Doctoral Fellowship to Women Candidates:

    Being funded by the UGC, this 5-year postdoctoral fellowship program focuses on the subject areas of Science, Engineering and Technology, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Any Indian female citizen who holds a Ph.D. degree and has scored 55% or above in their undergraduate level, and 65% or above in their postgraduate level can apply for this opportunity. For SC/ST/OBC/PH/Minority communities, a score of 50% or more at the undergraduate level and a score of 55% or more at the postgraduate level is required. The amount that the aspirant will receive for this program is INR 38,800 every month, for the first 2 years, and then INR 46,500 every month for the rest of the duration.

  4. Sir Ratan Tata Post-doctoral Fellowship:

     

    Being funded by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, this 6-month postdoctoral fellowship program focuses on the subject area of Social Science (Economy and Society in India and South Asia). Any employee employed in the SAARC region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) who holds a Ph.D. degree in social science with a focus on South Asia can apply for this opportunity. The amount that the aspirant will receive for this program is £1,750 every month. 

     

  5. ICSSR Post-Doctoral Fellowship:

    Being funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, this 2-year postdoctoral fellowship program focuses on the subject areas of Social Science, Economics, Management, Commerce, Sociology, Social Work, Social Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Socio-Sanskrit Studies, Socio-Philosophical Studies, Social Linguistics, Gender Studies, Health Studies, Political Science, International Studies, Public Administration, Diaspora Studies, National Security and Strategic Studies, Education, Social Psychology, Legal Studies, Social Geography, Environmental Studies, Modern Social History, Media Studies, Library Science. Any Indian citizen who holds a Ph.D. degree in any of the social science disciplines can apply for this opportunity. The amount that the aspirant will receive for this program is INR 31,000 every month, with an additional amount for Contingency Grant which is INR 25,000 every year.

     

 In short, getting a fellowship enhances their career opportunities not only because they have a certificate but also because they have a brief learning period with an accomplished mentor in the field they love. Once selected in a fellowship program, an individual can traverse a new journey of gaining knowledge and further insights into the subject they are interested in, and by working closely with professors, students get to access a vast pool of knowledge and emerge successful in their life.