5 Tips for Applying to Fellowships at Harvard Kennedy School

Here are 5 quick tips and some resources to make the most of your applications to fellowships at Harvard Kennedy School:

1. Start your research early.

It is never too early to begin researching fellowships at HKS that you might qualify for. The earlier you begin your research, the more likely you’ll have time to uncover those hidden gems that few people know about and apply to. Also, if you start your research early, you’ll have plenty of time to work around busy HKS fellow schedules in order to reach out and speak briefly with a past awardee to get insight and advice.

One helpful but hard to find official source of information on HKS fellowships is the alphabetical list of fellowships  at HKS.

2. Remember that fellowship selection committee members will likely not read your original HKS application.

This means that you can reuse your CV and repeat some of the information from your admissions essays. I do not recommend simply copying and pasting your admissions essays and changing the name of the school to the name of the fellowship. The fellowship selection process is highly competitive, and laziness is not going to get you funding for HKS.

3. Do your research on each fellowship you apply to.

Research the funder. Why did they start the fellowship? What is their personal and professional history and how might you draw connections between yourself and the motivations of the funder? Research past awardees. What do they have in common that you can highlight about yourself? The Center for Public Leadership makes it extra easy to learn about past awardees in their annual Fellows Profile book.

4. Apply to multiple fellowships—but pay attention to where they are coming from.

I think applying to multiple fellowships is a great idea. However, I don’t recommend applying to multiple fellowships offered by the same center. For example, I don’t recommend submitting applications to the Dubin, Gleitsman, and Zuckerman as all three of these fellowships are a part of the same center, the Center for Public Leadership. I advise against this because these fellowships are fairly similar and they likely share selection committee members. I’ve had clients apply for one fellowship at the CPL and receive a different one they didn’t even apply for, so there must be some level of communication between the programs. Instead, I recommend you apply for the fellowship at each center (e.g. Hauser, Taubman, Center for Public Leadership, Mossavar-Rahmani, etc.) for which you are the best fit.

5. Write essays that make an impact.

God is in the details. Be as specific as possible when discussing your achievements, career goals, and what appeals to you about the fellowships you are applying to. Remember that fellowships aren’t just about the money. They often come with special dinners, speakers, field trips, and other opportunities—especially fellowships offered by the Center for Public Leadership. When telling a story in your fellowship essays, remember to share what you and other stakeholders thought, felt, said, and did. This is what makes a story come alive. Be honest. Be authentic. Say what you really mean rather than trying to figure out what they want to hear.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Go and get that money!

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