Fellowship Vs Scholarship: A Detailed Comparison

    Updated on: 17 Aug 2022

    Several organizations and governments across the world run several programs to help underprivileged and meritorious students further their education. These programs are based on particular criteria that must be met by the student to be eligible. Scholarships and fellowships are two examples of schemes that are frequently misunderstood in this regard. The majority of students are unsure about the distinction between a scholarship and a fellowship. These two expressions are sometimes misconstrued since they both imply “financial assistance” for students and researchers, or anyone with a desire to learn, discover, and investigate something new. A University, a Research Centre, an academic institution, a laboratory, the government, or a foundation establishes “scholarships” and “fellowships”. 

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    What is a scholarship?

    A scholarship is a type of financial award provided to students in recognition of their academic achievements to motivate them to improve their grades. It is a form of financial aid given to students by the government, universities, or other organizations to help them further their education. Academic accomplishment, category, needs, and other criteria are specified by the grantor, which could be a government department or an organization. The government's goal is expressed in the criteria for selecting recipients. The grantor also specifies the method for applying for the scholarship.

    Most scholarships are awarded solely based on an application or any qualifications that make a person particularly qualified for the award. Many unusual circumstances, such as a person's last name, status as a single parent, or the fact that they have a handicapping ailment, may qualify them for a scholarship. Students who attend school full-time, have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of at least a B and can demonstrate financial need may be eligible for more general scholarships offered by countries and states.

    The scholarship money can be used to cover a variety of costs, including books, tuition, project work, and other educational expenses. It does not accrue interest or require repayment, unlike an education loan. Even before beginning undergraduate or graduate school, students can apply for a scholarship.

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    What is a fellowship?

    The fellowship stipends students who pass the qualifying exam and want to research a certain topic. It is a monetary award provided to students or researchers from many disciplines such as finance, management, science, and others to research in a certain field. They are usually determined by a person's competence, GPA, and credentials to work in a specific sector.

    It is not required that the student/scholar get financial help as part of the fellowship; the research fellow may receive any additional advantages as part of the fellowship. It can be conferred as a status in an academic institution, but the scholar receives no financial help, pay, or other benefits. As a fellow of a certain college, the scholar may be granted certain privileges, such as access to the library or other research facilities.

    Fellowships are usually realized while earning a graduate degree or higher to research in a given field. These are financial grants and other benefits granted for research activity.

    What is the difference between scholarship and fellowship?

    The primary idea behind a scholarship or fellowship is to provide financial aid and grants to students for a specified period to help them with their studies. The main distinction between a scholarship and a fellowship is that a scholarship is given to students from elementary school to senior secondary school, or up to the bachelor's degree level. Fellowships are awarded to students who research a certain discipline at institutes or universities.


    Basis of difference




    Generally determined by various factors such as necessity, merit, or others

    Generally based on the student's merit or excellence.


    Usually, it pays the tuition fees.

     Can be an internship or any other type of service opportunity for the student 


    Financial aid is offered to go for further education

    Normally, it is a merit-based fellowship

     Time of application 

     Are accessible from the very beginning of one's academic career, i.e., even before starting university or undergraduate education, one can apply for a "scholarship." 

     No fellowships are available for early-career academics.

    Study level of individual

    Is given to students’ level and beyond

     Is granted generally to experienced individuals to apply 

     Organizations giving opportunities for both 

    Are supported by the government, schools/colleges/universities, or any other group

    Governments, research organizations, commercial enterprises, universities, and other institutions grant them.


    Is given to help students with their basic studies.

    Scholars are given grants to undertake studies on a specific topic.


    Some scholarships are renewable in the sense that students can apply for them again as well.

    Is only for a set time and cannot be extended (non-renewable).

    Criteria of application

    Is based on a variety of criteria that students requesting financial assistance must meet, such as academic performance, participation in sports competitions, or creative talents competitions, and many others.

    Based only on academic criteria


    Note: One significant distinction between a scholarship and a fellowship is that wherever the term scholarship is used, financial help is always included. It can be in the form of a tuition fee, a daily allowance, or any other type of allowance, but there must be a monetary component.

    However, in the case of a fellowship, the benefits are usually not provided in the form of financial aid. Benefits can also take different forms.

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    Example: If someone receives a "scholarship" to study at Ohio University or conduct research at NASA, for example, that individual has unquestionably received funding to study or conduct research. When MIT or Harvard announces “scholarships” for undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate students, researchers, or journalists, it means that the university, research institute, or foundation will cover all or part of the costs.

    However, the “fellowship” is first and foremost a status, and secondly a “financial aid.” The term "fellowship" refers to a university or Research Centre position that may or may not offer "financial aid." Cambridge or Oxford may offer a "fellowship" but just supply a library desk with a computer. Many notable researchers or popular persons apply for such jobs, willing to pay for all other expenditures themselves in exchange for the declared "fellowship." 

    A “fellowship” may be granted just as a status inside an academic institution, with no salary, financial aid, or other benefits. A person may be admitted as a fellow of a certain college or department and have access to certain library and research resources with that status. 



    While a scholarship is given to students to help them with their pre-graduation studies, a fellowship is given to research scholars to help them research in a specific field after they have completed their graduation or post-graduate studies.

    Some scholarships are renewable, meaning that students can apply for them again. The fellowship, on the other hand, is for a certain period and cannot be extended. 

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