Fellowship Program - How to Apply

1. Program Goals
2. Eligibility Requirements

for Fellowship Applicants

3. Application

Procedure

4. Selection

Process

5. Where and

When to Apply

6. Fellowship

Award Requirements

7. Exclusions
8. Frequently

Asked Questions About Switzer Fellowships

9. Other

information


1. Program Goals

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.

 The
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

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2. Eligibility Requirements for Fellowship Applicants

An
applicant for a Switzer Environmental Fellowship must:

  • be
    a US citizen;
  • be
    enrolled in an accredited graduate institution ONLY in California or New England;
  • have
    strong academic qualifications with academic and career goals focused on
    environmental improvement, regardless of the school, major or program in which
    they are enrolled.

In
addition:

  • The
    applicant must plan to be enrolled as a full time student for the
    entire ’14-‘15 academic year in order to be considered.
  • Master's
    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.
  • Individuals
    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.)
  • Applicants
    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.
  • Mid-Career
    students may apply and must demonstrate how their academic program will enhance
    their effectiveness as an environmental professional. 

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3. Application Procedure

All
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
necessary documentation.

APPLICATIONS
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
INSTRUCTED
.
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
application form.)

The
following materials are required to be submitted with the application as
uploaded MS Word or Adobe PDF documents.

  • A
    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.
  • Two
    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.
  • A
    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.
  • Most
    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
    application form.
  • A
    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.
  • Evidence
    of financial need
     where
    applicable. Although the Switzer Fellowship is merit-based, financial need may
    be considered when comparing equally qualified applicants.

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4. Selection Process

Application Review and Interview Process

Applications
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
the interviews.

Criteria for Selection

Criteria for review of Environmental Fellowship applications include
the following:

  • Leadership
    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.
  • Applied
    Focus - Scientific, technical, analytical and/or policy study is geared
    towards applied results; ability to relate detailed
    knowledge in a broader context.
  • Innovative,
    Creative approaches -demonstrates new or different perspective to
    his or her field of study.
  • Career
    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.
  • Communication
    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.
  • Prior
    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.

Other
Considerations
:

  • Individuals
    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.
  • In
    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.
  • Applicants
    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
    emulate.

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5. Where and When to Apply

 

Applications due

January 10, 2014 by midnight Eastern Time

Interview dates

New England Fellowships: May 3, 2014 – Boston
California Fellowships: May 17, 2014 – San Francisco

Notification

Mid-May, 2014

Fellowship Payment Dates

Late June, 2014
Late January, 2015

Contacts for further information

For eligibility and general questions:
Erin Lloyd, Program

Officer
(207) 338-5654 or erin@switzernetwork.org

For technical assistance with online applications:
Don Brackett,

Administrative Officer
(207) 338-5654 or don@switzernetwork.org

Click

here to download the Call for Applications

APPLY

HERE

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    6. Fellowship Award Requirements

    Fellowship Retreats

    All
    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
    Funds

    The
    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.

    Reporting Requirements

    Switzer
    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.

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    7. Exclusions

    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. 

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    8. Frequently Asked Questions About

    Switzer Fellowships

    WHAT
    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.

DO
I NEED TO BE STUDYING IN A "HARD" SCIENCE AREA TO COMPETE
SUCCESSFULLY? 
No.
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.

WHAT
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.

ARE
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.

WHO
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.

DO
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
undergraduate).

THE
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.

HOW
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.

HOW
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.

CAN
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
doctoral candidates.

CAN
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.

CAN
STUDENTS AT INSTITUTIONS OUTSIDE OF NEW ENGLAND OR CALIFORNIA APPLY FOR THE
FELLOWSHIP? 
No.
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).

I
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.

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    9. Other information

    For  more information, please see Fellowship Benefits. Learn about past Fellows

    through the Fellowship Network Directory or under Recent Awards. Read about the work of our Fellows on our News page.

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