Presidential Fellowship

An Award Winning Program

The Presidential Fellowship program is the University of South Carolina’s most prestigious university-wide award for promise of excellence at the graduate level. Unique among peer institutions for its reach across disciplines and focus on professional development, the merit-based program awards Fellows a supplemental stipend totaling $32,000 for doctoral students (awarded over 4 years) and $20,000 for MFA students (awarded over 5 semesters). This award is in addition to fellowships and assistantships students receive from their academic programs.

The Presidential Fellowship program was awarded the 2013 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) and Educational Testing Service Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Admissions. CSGS is a consortium of more than two hundred graduate schools from the southern region of the United States.

About the Current Fellows

Current USC Presidential Fellows comprise a varied group of 70 talented scholars from a range of institutions, disciplines, and backgrounds. To date, 173 students from 38 academic programs in 9 colleges have participated. Grounded in a spirit of collaboration, Fellows benefit from an engaged community through their participation in an innovative progression of seminars and professional development workshops (GRAD 801) led by the Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School. Spanning four years, these seminars create an interactive network among able students in a wide variety of research areas.

Diversity is cherished by the Presidential Fellows program. We welcome nominations of domestic candidates and women in STEM fields, and of underrepresented groups in all disciplines. About 1 in 6 Fellows is international.



  • Must have applied to a doctoral or MFA program and met all admission requirements
  • For doctoral applicants, relevant nationally-normed standardized test scores (GRE, GMAT, etc.) at 80% or higher
  • For MFA applicants, outstanding creative portfolios
  • Outstanding undergraduate or master's level record

Program Guidelines

  • The award amount for the Presidential Fellowship is $8,000/year renewable for 4 years for doctoral students and 5 semesters for MFA students, contingent upon adequate progress toward the degree and regular participation in GRAD 801
  • The Presidential Fellowship must be matched by the greater of either a department's standard assistantship or at least one half of all tuition and fees plus $8,000 of annual support from a recipient's academic program. (This amount can come from teaching or research assistantships, summer stipends or other fellowships.)
  • Funds may be applied to tuition, fees, or student stipends
  • Award recipients will be enrolled in GRAD 801, a professional development seminar series that meets throughout the academic year on selected Fridays from 11:15 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


Presidential Fellows are nominated to the Graduate School by graduate directors after a student’s application is complete but prior to matriculation at USC. Successful candidates have promising research agendas or creative projects, coupled with accomplished academic records, and—depending on the type program (doctoral or MFA)—superior standardized test scores or impressive portfolios. Nominations are only accepted from the graduate director of each academic program. Presidential Fellows are selected and notified in the spring semester.

Nominees must have applied for admission to a doctoral or MFA program at USC and have met all unit criteria for acceptance. Nominating units assemble and upload for the Graduate School: the student’s relevant academic information (i.e. test scores, GPA, etc.); a personal statement or writing sample from the student nominee; and a brief letter from the graduate director outlining the candidate’s merits and the likely source of base support from the department or program. Any program that nominates two or more students must rank the nominees.

  • Round 1 Nomination Deadline: Friday, January 19, 2018 at 9:00 AM
  • Round 2 Nomination Deadline: Friday, February 16, 2018 at 9:00 AM
  • Round 3 Nomination Deadline: Friday, March 9, 2018 at 9:00 AM


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