Fellowship Program - How to Apply
The goal of the Switzer
Environmental Fellowship Program is to support highly talented graduate
students in New England and California whose studies are directed toward
improving environmental quality and who clearly demonstrate leadership
potential in their field. Twenty Switzer Fellowships are annually
awarded from a strong pool of over 300 applications. All applicants and
recommenders should be aware that the Switzer Environmental Fellowship
primarily looks for environmental leadership potential of the applicant, and
secondarily, the applicant’s research topic.
Switzer Environmental Fellowship provides a combination of funding for graduate
study, trainings to help develop leadership skills, and access to the Switzer
Fellowship Network. We
aim to select environmental leaders representing a cross-section of
contemporary environmental issues. Please make sure you meet all of the
Fellowship eligibility requirements before applying and carefully follow the
application procedures below. Click here for an overview of the Fellowship Program.
applicant for a Switzer Environmental Fellowship must:
a US citizen;
enrolled in an accredited graduate institution ONLY in California or New England;
strong academic qualifications with academic and career goals focused on
environmental improvement, regardless of the school, major or program in which
they are enrolled.
applicant must plan to be enrolled as a full time student for the
entire ’14-‘15 academic year in order to be considered.
degree candidates must have completed at least one semester of course work to
apply and be seeking the Master's as a terminal degree. Master's degree
students planning to pursue a PhD are advised to wait until they are in their
PhD program to apply.
enrolled in one-year Master's degree programs may apply prior to enrollment,
but must be formally accepted into their program to be eligible for a
Fellowship interview. (Interviews take place in May.)
at the PhD level must plan to have completed at least three years of
Doctoral work by July 1, 2014, or plan to have passed their qualifying
exams by May 1, 2014. PhD candidates with a clear research and career
focus are more competitive than individuals who are still undecided or
early in their academic program.
students may apply and must demonstrate how their academic program will enhance
their effectiveness as an environmental professional.
students applying for a Switzer Environmental Fellowship must submit an online
application form. A link to the online form is given below. Each applicant will be prompted to create an
account before gaining access to the application form. This will allow
applicants to save their work, make edits and track progress during the
application review process. Specific application instructions are available on
the application form. General guidance is provided here to help you prepare the
ARE DUE FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014 by midnight Eastern Time.
It is imperative that applicants review the
eligibility requirements above prior to applying. Applications take a lot of
time and work to complete, and ineligible applications will not be reviewed.
APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED COMPLETE UNLESS ALL OF THE REQUIRED MATERIALS ARE SUBMITTED AS
We cannot allow any exceptions. (Please note that if you need to convert hard
copy documents to digital format, the online application has a 'Fax to File'
capability that you can use for this purpose, but it requires immediate
proximity to a fax machine. Further instructions are available via the online
following materials are required to be submitted with the application as
uploaded MS Word or Adobe PDF documents.
2-3 page original essay.
The essay is a critical component of the application screening process. It
is an opportunity for you to reflect on your accomplishments, how you
contextualize your research and course work in society, and ultimately, your
vision for your future leadership role in the environmental field, including
the type of professional position you hope to pursue and the impact you hope to
have. You may describe your academic work in the
context of your goals, but not as the sole focus of the essay.
Use the essay to talk about why your chosen field matters to you, to whom
it is important, and how your background and personal experiences, combined
with your academic course of study, will position you to be an effective leader
for positive change. In other words, how do you plan to use your academic
experience for environmental improvement? Applicants should include
examples of how you have been a leader or specifically contributed to solving
an environmental issue or problem. If you have limited leadership
experience, you may describe the impact you hope to have, and any personal and professional challenges you have
overcome to achieve your goals. The word count of the essay should not
exceed 2,000. The essay may be single- or double-spaced, but please use
at least 11 point type for all text.
professional letters of recommendation. (Recommendation letters
must be submitted directly to the Foundation per the Recommendation Instructions.) These can be from your academic
advisors or other colleagues who know you and your work well. It is preferable
to have at least one recommendation letter from your academic advisor,
committee member, or academic colleague, especially for PhD applicants.
current resume, including relevant work and volunteer experience.
Please include the number of hours per week and number of months worked for
each professional and volunteer experience noted.
recent Graduate academic transcripts. (Undergraduate transcripts
are not necessary except in the case of applicants enrolling in one-year
master's programs with no other graduate school experience.) PLEASE NOTE: if
you are unable to access your official transcript by the application deadline,
you may upload an unofficial copy to your application and send the official
copy when it is available. Specific instructions can be found on the
brief outline of the general course of study or research planned.
This can include a course list or (brief) summary of your research. Master's
students should list courses taken, focus or concentration, and thesis topic.
PhD students should include a summary or precis of their dissertation.
of financial need where
applicable. Although the Switzer Fellowship is merit-based, financial need may
be considered when comparing equally qualified applicants.
Application Review and Interview Process
in New England and California are reviewed separately by teams of environmental
professionals. Those students who demonstrate interdisciplinary and
collaborative approaches to improving environmental quality and a commitment to
developing their leadership, will be invited for an interview. Selected California applicants will be interviewed
in San Francisco and New England applicant interviews will be held in Boston,
in May 2014. Interviewees will meet for
a focused and brief interview with a team of two to four environmental
professionals and Switzer Foundation representatives . All candidates
interviewed are notified of award decisions in writing within two weeks after
Criteria for Selection
Criteria for review of Environmental Fellowship applications include
Experience and Potential – Applicant demonstrates (in academic, work, volunteer
or other settings) the ability to influence and align others towards
environmental goals, and to effectively bridge the
public, private and academic arenas.
Focus - Scientific, technical, analytical and/or policy study is geared
towards applied results; ability to relate detailed
knowledge in a broader context.
Creative approaches -demonstrates new or different perspective to
his or her field of study.
Goals and Commitment – Commitment to
aggressively pursue and implement effective solutions to improve the quality of
our environment; clarity of career goals and realistic vision.
and Critical Thinking – demonstrates clear communication and problem-solving abilities; ability to translate
theoretical concepts into practice; ability to communicate effectively in
writing and orally.
work and volunteer experience in
an environmental field - demonstrates involvement in organizing groups or
implementing programs; longevity in environmental field; experience in
positions of responsibility.
who have some professional or work experience between undergraduate and
graduate study are often more competitive candidates for Switzer Environmental
Fellowships due to their understanding of systems and conditions required for
promoting positive environmental change.
selecting the final pool of interview candidates, a diversity of approaches to
environmental change is sought, as well as representation of a diversity of schools and fields of study.
Excellence in academic study is a factor in selecting interview
candidates, but it is NOT the only factor.
who are pursuing an academic career must be able to articulate how they will
effect positive environmental change beyond the classroom or research
setting, and may suggest academic professionals whose approach they hope to
January 10, 2014 by midnight Eastern Time
New England Fellowships: May 3, 2014 – Boston
Fellowship Payment Dates
Late June, 2014
Contacts for further information
For eligibility and general questions:
Erin Lloyd, Program
(207) 338-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For technical assistance with online applications:
(207) 338-5654 or email@example.com
here to download the Call for Applications
new Fellows are required to attend TWO
weekend-long retreats during their Fellowship year. In late September and early October,
annual fall retreats are held in New England and California to
welcome new Fellows in each region and provide an opportunity for all Fellows
to renew acquaintances. In February or March
2015, a leadership development training will be held as a spring retreat
(location to be announced). It is a
requirement of the Fellowship that new Fellows attend retreats in the year they
are selected. Past Fellows are always encouraged to attend these retreats. New
Fellows will be notified of the exact dates and locations for the annual
retreats at the time of their Fellowship award.
Use of Fellowship
Fellowship is paid in two equal installments, the first in June and the
second in late January. The entire grant may be applied to one or more of the
following: tuition, matriculation and other university fees, living expenses,
education or research related expenses. To the extent that the fellowship is
not used for tuition, it may be considered income and the Fellow may be liable
for income tax. The Foundation does not file IRS-1099 Forms on the Fellowships.
Fellows are, however, required to submit a report of expenditures to the
Foundation at the end of the Fellowship year. Please consult with your tax
advisor for proper treatment of the award.
Fellows are required to submit two written reports during their Fellowship
year. An interim report must be received by January 15, mid-way through the Fellowship
year, and a final report by June 15 at the end of the Fellowship year.
Guidelines and requirements for these reports will be provided in advance of
each due date. Payment for the second half of the Fellowship award will be
released upon receipt of a satisfactory interim report.
Employees and Trustees of The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation and
their family members are not eligible to apply and the Foundation does not
discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation
or national or ethnic origin in the selection of Fellows.
KIND OF CANDIDATE IS THE SELECTION COMMITTEE LOOKING FOR? The ideal candidate possesses a
strong personal commitment to solving problems and effecting change in the
environmental arena. He/she should possess solid leadership and communication
skills, and have excellent technical and/or analytical backgrounds as well as
superior academic credentials. Non-academic volunteer or community-based
experience is also highly valued.
I NEED TO BE STUDYING IN A "HARD" SCIENCE AREA TO COMPETE
Fellowships are not limited by field of study. A good grounding in science is
considered a plus, but lack of a hard science background will not prevent a
candidate with other strong skills from competing successfully for a Fellowship
as long as the candidate applies those skills to environmental improvement. A
variety of fields and disciplines are supported, but commitment to
environmental goals and leadership potential are essential.
IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN SUBMITTING A SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION? Preparation. It may seem
obvious, but a thoughtful application is most appreciated. You should carefully
read the Program guidelines to understand the objectives of the Switzer
Foundation. Take the time to seek out prior Switzer Fellows who may be on your
campus or in your area to ask about their experience. Your written materials,
especially your essay, are the primary means by which your application will
convey a sense of your aspirations and motivations.
THERE MORE SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR CONTENT & FORMAT OF THE ESSAY? No. Please read the essay
requirements in the guidelines. The essay is the most critical component of
your application for the initial screening and is the best way to convey your
personal commitment to the field and to driving positive environmental change.
A precis of your master's or doctoral thesis is NOT what we're looking for in
the essay. The essay should not exceed the 2,000 word limit, and may be double
or single spaced with typeface 11 pt or larger.
SHOULD WRITE MY TWO LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION? The letters of recommendation
will have substantial weight in the evaluation of your application. It is
critical that you obtain recommendations from individuals who can provide the
best overall perspective on your leadership and professional potential,
abilities, and dedication. You may choose faculty members, former employers,
community leaders or colleagues as references. It is very helpful for at least
one letter to be from an academic advisor, committee member, or academic
colleague, especially for PhD students.
SHOULD MY RECOMMENDERS SEND ME THEIR LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
FOR UPLOADING WITH MY APPLICATION? No. Recommenders should email their letter directly to the
Foundation per the Recommendation Instructions on our website. Applicants
should be sure to download a copy of the instructions and forward them to
recommenders. Applicants should only provide the name and contact information
of the recommenders in the space provided in the online application.
I NEED TO SUBMIT TRANSCRIPTS FROM UNDERGRADUATE WORK? For most applicants, no.
All that is required is your graduate school transcripts. However, for
individuals entering a one-year degree program, you will need to provide
transcripts for the last year of prior academic study (graduate or
GUIDELINES STATE THAT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT OF PRIOR GRADUATE WORK IS REQUIRED
WITH THE ONLINE APPLICATION. MY SCHOOL ONLY PROVIDES OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS IN
HARD COPY. WHAT SHOULD I DO? We will accept scanned copies of official transcripts in Adobe
PDF or JPEG format. If official transcripts are not ready by the application
date, you may attach a digital version of your unofficial transcript to the
application, and later submit the official version.
MUCH DETAIL IS NEEDED FOR THE "OUTLINE OF COURSE OF STUDY"? You may summarize your thesis or
dissertation topic, list courses to be taken and your research focus. Do not
exceed four pages.
IMPORTANT IS FINANCIAL NEED IN DETERMINING FELLOWSHIP AWARDS? This is NOT a need-based
award. No candidate is screened out based on his/her financial circumstances.
However, financial need can be a factor considered by the final selection
committee, particularly in situations where candidates are equally qualified.
If you feel your financial situation is a major factor in your ability to
complete your studies, you should explain your financial need where
requested in the application, citing specifics if necessary. We rely on your
honesty in providing us with this information.
I WILL COMPLETE MY STUDIES BEFORE THE END OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2014/2015.
MAY I STILL SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR PARTIAL FUNDING? No. The Fellowship is intended
to support full-time matriculation for the entire academic ’14-‘15 year .
You must plan to be enrolled on a full-time basis for ’14-‘15
in order to qualify for the Fellowship.
DO I NEED TO BE ALREADY ENROLLED IN ORDER TO APPLY? Yes. Master's degree students
must have completed at least one semester of coursework at the time an
application is submitted. One exception to this is
for students who will be enrolled in a one-year professional Master's degree
program. These students may apply before they begin, but must have equivalent
professional experience and must be fully accepted into their program to be
granted an interview. PhD students must plan to have completed at least three
years of study by July 1, 2014 or plan to
have passed their qualifying exams by May 1, 2014. Students
planning to conduct research during the Fellowship year must specify their
planned enrollment status for this time period.
MASTER'S DEGREE STUDENTS COMPETE SUCCESSFULLY FOR SWITZER FELLOWSHIPS? Yes. The Switzer Fellowship
Program is interested in seeing applications from strong Master's degree
students. Master's students will compete against each other rather than against
MID-CAREER STUDENTS COMPETE SUCCESSFULLY FOR SWITZER FELLOWSHIPS? Yes. The Switzer Fellowship
Program is interested in candidates in all stages of their careers, as long as
they have a clear focus in how their graduate education will position them to
have greater influence on environmental issues and outcomes.
STUDENTS AT INSTITUTIONS OUTSIDE OF NEW ENGLAND OR CALIFORNIA APPLY FOR THE
The Switzer Fellowship is available only to students enrolled at accredited
graduate institutions in California or the six New England states (CT, MA, RI,
VT, NH, or ME).
AM INTERESTED IN THE FELLOWSHIP, BUT AM FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT AND DO NOT NEED
THE FELLOWSHIP FUNDS. CAN I APPLY FOR THE FELLOWSHIP BUT DECLINE THE FUNDS SO
THAT THEY CAN BE USED FOR SOMEONE ELSE? Yes. The Foundation is interested in awarding the Fellowship to
qualified candidates. Recipients may receive full Fellowship benefits even if
they opt out of the funding. This final determination is not made until the
award decisions are made and are kept strictly confidential.
For more information, please see Fellowship Benefits. Learn about past Fellows