A fellowship is analogous to a scholarship. It is a financial award that is generally granted on either a merit or need basis. National data suggest that students on fellowships may not receive the same level of "informal" advising that occurs when students are in contact with faculty outside of the class setting (such as the work setting associated with assistantships). This in turn could affect the degree to which the student feels connected to and integrated into the department/program. Likewise, the student who feels isolated from the program is less apt to complete the degree and/or if they do complete is apt to take longer to complete the degree.
It is in the best interests of the university to ensure that students on fellowships are integrated into the culture of their particular department/graduate program. Some best practices that might be implemented by departments/graduate programs to help ensure such integration are:
- Require attendance at departmental seminars/colloquia.
- Interact with students during seminars/colloquia.
- Assist students in forming journal clubs.
- Assign a preliminary advisor upon admission and schedule regular advisement meetings with student to discuss their progress towards their degree.
- Encourage collaboration with other students on projects and/or with faculty on research papers and presentations as co-authors/presenters.
- If professional organizations allow student membership (most do) encourage participation in these activities.
- Plan informal activities; provide a social setting for interaction between students and faculty.
These are only a few suggestions. At a minimum, the Graduate School policy is that all students on fellowships be provided regular advisement (at least once every semester) to discuss their progress towards their degree.