Getting Started

Explore your interests

Applying for a nationally competitive scholarship or fellowship presents an excellent opportunity to get to know yourself. Before pursuing a scholarship, you must first identify your interests and aspirations. You'll likely gain new insights into your own goals and motivations--and learn how to articulate them clearly--through the application process. To begin identifying the most appropriate scholarship opportunities for you, take time to consider the following questions:

  • What subjects and activities fascinate you?
  • Do you (or will you) have any experience with foreign languages? Have you (or will you have) worked or studied abroad?
  • Are you interested in conducting research? In teaching? In pursuing a graduate degree?
  • How does a nationally competitive scholarship fit into your academic and career plans?

If the answers to these questions are not yet clear, take time to explore courses, activities, internships, and/or research that helps you better define your academic and professional goals. It may help to discuss your interests with faculty mentors.

Check your eligibility

Eligibility requirements vary by scholarship, but there are scholarship and fellowship opportunities for students of all fields of study, ages, degree programs, and career goals. Most scholarships are directed toward specific disciplines, levels of study, and/or experience. Other criteria may include nationality and ethnicity, GPA, state of residence, or other factors. Refer to the scholarship’s webpage for up-to-date details.

In addition to basic eligibility requirements, applicants should demonstrate academic achievement, civic engagement, leadership activity, and professional or research experience (depending on the student’s field of study and career goals). They should also be able to clearly articulate their long-term professional and academic goals. Read more about the characteristics of excellent scholarship candidates here.

Start early

Successful candidates start preparing their applications early, months ahead of the deadline (sometimes even preparing a strategy years in advance). For some scholarships, Syracuse University has an internal deadline and an application review committee, administered by CFSA, to help applicants refine their applications and ensure timely submission. You will want to leave plenty of time to revise your essays several (in some cases, a dozen or more!) times.

Meet with CFSA

CFSA works with students at all stages of the application process, including guiding students through their initial research and helping students decide whether and when to apply. From first-year undergraduate students to PhD students looking to fund their dissertation research, CFSA is available to help! If you’re interested in meeting with CFSA to discuss scholarship opportunities, please fill out the registration form.

All questions can be directed to or by phone at 315-443-2780. If you would like to email one advisor directly, you can do so through our CFSA Staff & Advisors page.