5. Application Advice

Applying for fellowships requires careful thought and preparation, especially if you hope to learn from the process. It requires defining your goals, researching suitable opportunities, presenting your case, and gathering the required materials.

Meet with your CIPE adviser

Be sure to talk to your CIPE adviser about your interests. They will be able to help answer questions and give you feedback on how competitive your application is for a given opportunity.

Speak with the Leadership & Global Citizenship team

Charlotte Evans (charlotte.evans@yale-nus.edu.sg) can provide support and advice on undergraduate and post-graduate fellowships. For those interested in pursuing an application for one of these awards, please contact Charlotte for further questions.

Application Essay

Every fellowship application requires an essay which will be the core of your application. Think about the following tips and questions as you write:

  • Demonstrate a match between yourself and a particular project.
  • What is the inspiration or motivation for this project?
  • Consider your project’s intellectual validity. Why there? Why now? How is it important or meaningful?
  • Demonstrate a match between yourself and a particular fellowship
  • Connect the fellowship opportunity to your past experiences from your personal and/or academic life and how they shaped your outlook. Focus on relevant experiences.
  • How will this impact your future goals/pursuits?
  • Selection committees want to learn about you and how well you and your project mesh with their expectations of an ideal fellowship recipient. Be clear and authentic while focusing on writing about who you are, what makes you tick, what you want to do, how you plan to do it, and why it’s important.

Gather supporting materials

Each application has its own requirements, but your application essay and the recommenders you choose ultimately will be most influential in determining outcomes. Give your recommenders plenty of notice (four to six weeks is reasonable and courteous). Provide your writers with a copy of your resume and information about the opportunity you are applying for, and finally thank them for their help! For more details, use CIPE’s guidelines on requesting a letter of recommendation HERE.


This part of the process is equally important as the written portion and will require preparation. The following steps will help you prepare for a successful interview:

  • Read and reread the fellowship description, website, and your application
  • Read news and major publications on your topic and region of interest. You will be tested on your knowledge on issues affecting the region or developments in the field you have selected.
  • Practise answering interview questions (especially the easy ones) – You will be asked to talk about yourself, your goals, and questions that seem challenging on the spot. These questions are asked because the interviewers are genuinely curious about you and they are also assessing how you respond to pressure. Never leave a question unanswered! This is your opportunity to be creative, confident, and think on your feet.
  • Arrive early!
  • Wear business attire that is appropriate. Be sure to turn off your phone and during the interview sit up straight, make eye contact, smile, and address the entire committee when answering questions.


Some programmes will require applicants to submit a budget with their application materials. Budgets should be consistent and conservative. For every budget you submit, you will be asked three basic questions:

  • What are the legitimate expenses required for you to complete your project?
  • Expenses include travel (to and from), room (housing expenses), board (food throughout the project), major incidentals (fees, film, passport, vaccinations). If you will be living at home or housing is provided by your project, you should not list these expenses. A note: lost income is not considered a legitimate expense.
  • What assets do you have to commit to the project? Assets include any sources of income you know you can dedicate to the project. This could be from a part-time job, family contribution, another grant or loan. Don’t worry if you do not have any assets to contribute.
  • What do you need to support the project? Need is essentially the result of subtracting assets from expenses.

Next Step: Browse Fellowships

Have Questions?
Charlotte Evans
Programme Manager, Leadership & Global Citizenship

Contact with questions about YFES, YSPH and LKYSPP CDP and fellowship advising.