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Fellowship Application Process

The Applicant’s Tasks

  • Provide the GPC or GPA in your Graduate Program with a single PDF named Your Department_Lastname_current year.pdf . The file should contain the following seven components in this order:
    1. Research accomplishments: Specify the research questions answered in your completed work and your research strategy. Discuss the innovative aspects of this work, its contribution to a research area in demography and its broader impact on the field and public good. (max 2 single space pages)
    2. Ongoing & future research, including the fellowship project: Discuss specific aims, research strategy, innovative aspects of the project(s), contribution to a research area in demography and the broader impact on the field and public good. Briefly state your training plan for the fellowship year. (max 2 single space pages)
    3. Responses to online questionnaire:
    4. Curriculum Vitae
    5. Current transcript.
    6. A manuscript (e.g., published or working paper). Attach note with your contribution if coauthor.
    7. A statement signed by the GPC or GPA certifying that your “performance and progress” toward completion of the graduate degree program of your Department or School” are satisfactory.  For more information on performance and progress, see Graduate School Memo 16 .
  • Arrange for 2 letters of recommendation to be sent to your GPC or GPA. Ask letter of recommendation writers to read the guidelines for the letters.

1 and 2. Description of Research Accomplishments and Future Research

These components focus on technical and scientific merit and the broad impact of your research. Given page limits, your application will be stronger if you restrict the discussion to papers and future and ongoing research that will potentially have valuable scientific impact or advance demography or related fields in a significant way. In addition to your proposed Fellowship project, this work may include papers and your thesis and dissertation. Your Fellowship project may not be a component of a thesis or dissertation; however, it can address a closely related research question or problem. For coauthored papers, clarify your role in the paper.

For research accomplishments discussed in component 1, succinctly state the research question(s), the answers, and the rationale for the research strategy, including analytical design. Demonstrate that the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses were well reasoned and appropriate to answer the research questions, and address problems. Explain the scientific and technical merits of the paper(s), including innovative aspects.

For your ongoing and future research discussed in component 2, state the specific aims, and research questions. Describe your proposed or current research strategy, including the data and analytical design. Show the direct relationship between the study design and your aims and research questions. Explain how your strategy will address problems (e.g., common problems in behavioral research). Discuss the project(s)’s potential limitations, innovative facets, and potential scientific and technical merit.

Include in component 2,  a very brief statement of your plans for the fellowship year; include the frequency and format of meetings with your CSDE mentor. Note activities that will enhance these research endeavors and your professional goals such as enrolling in classes, participating in workshops, conferences, and project groups, and meeting with faculty, and experts whom you plan to consult regarding your research.

Research can have scientific and technical merit in many ways. One example is the significance of the project(s) and paper(s) for a research area in demography or in a demography-related field. (e.g., see CSDE’s primary research areas. Research may have broader impacts, such as scientific contributions to the field or to the well-being of a population. Consider the following:

  • What important problem or critical barrier to progress in the research area did (or might) the research project solve?
  • What new scientific knowledge was (or might be) advanced by the research?
  • Did it (or will it) shift current research or methods in some way?
  • How did it (or will it) make this contribution?
  • Did it (will it) refine or improve the research question, application of theoretical concepts, the data, methods, or interventions, or offer novel ones?
  • Innovations in the research strategy, analytical design or statistical or demographic methods

4. Online Questionnaire

The call for applications will contain a link to the online questionnaire. The confirmation page of the questionnaire includes the responses to the questionnaire, which may be printed/saved directly to a PDF file. Applicants combine this file with the other components of the application into one PDF file, ordered and named according to the call for Fellowship Applications. They then submit the file to the Graduate Program Coordinator or Director in their home department.

The Graduate Program’s Tasks

  • Append two letters of recommendation to each applicant’s PDF.
  • Select the  competitive applications (max 5) and rank them from strongest (1) to least strong (5), taking into account the evaluation criteria that the CSDE training committee considers when evaluating applications. At least one CSDE Affiliate in the department should participate in the selection and ranking.
  • Prepare cover letter that includes the number of applications received, the rank order of the applicants forwarded, and information about the ranking. Name the file Your Department’s Name_letter_current year.pdf
  • Upload the letter and 1 application file per applicant on the Google Form at

Graduate Program Assistants and Coordinators contribute greatly to the CSDE Fellowship Program by processing and evaluating the applications in their departments. The full list of materials needed for each applicant is described in the “Call for Applications” as well as on the CSDE fellowship application website,  Below is some important information for the graduate program administrators:

  1. Students do *not*  submit their applications directly to CSDE. Students complete the online component of the application, and submit a copy of the online component along with the rest of their application materials to the department in a single pdf.
  2.  Departments provide a brief commentary on the ranking of the competitive candidates.  The ranking and cover letter help the committee to conduct a thorough and well-informed evaluation of the numerous applications. Competitive applicants are those who have demonstrated considerable potential to become productive independent researchers in demography. NIH considers the success of training programs in producing fellows who make a significant impact on population science and fellows who enhance the diversity of the demography-related research workforce, as members of a sub-population that is underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research.
  3. The CSDE Training Committee members review the files and then convene early winter quarter to select the new fellowship recipients.  Departments should follow-up with students whose files were not sent to CSDE for review. CSDE will write to applicants whose files CSDE received to inform them of the Committee’s decision.

Guidance for Letter Writers

CSDE’s ability to secure training grants depends on the success of each fellow’s research career in the field of demography. For this reason, letters of recommendation should include, when possible, an assessment of the applicant’s career trajectory and their commitment and ability to become a highly productive and independent scientific researcher in demography. CSDE seeks assessments of the applicant’s completed and current research, in particular the scientific and technical merits of the research, innovations in the research, and the impact of the research on a research area, such as CSDE’s primary research areas. CSDE also seeks assessments of planned research, especially the applicant’s proposed research collaboration with a CSDE Faculty Affiliate who will serve as their mentor. This mentoring and collaboration are intended to position the applicant well for further investment in their research careers through early career path awards and future research grants. The evaluation process and the criteria guiding the training committee’s evaluation are below.

The Evaluation Process

Applications are reviewed by one or more CSDE Affiliates in the applicant’s graduate program. The affiliates review the files and assess the candidate’s potential for a productive and independent research career that is likely to have scientific impact or help advance the field of demography. The final decision is based on evaluation criteria.