First-Year Dean’s Diversity Fellowship

The First-Year Dean’s Diversity Fellowship provides a mechanism to recruit master’s and doctoral students from under-represented groups into graduate programs at URI. These fellowships are competitive awards given to incoming graduate students in recognition of achievement and promise as scholars, enabling students to pursue graduate studies and research without rendering service to the University. The First-Year Diversity Fellowships are a key component of the URI Graduate School’s commitment to anti-racism and social justice.

The First-Year Dean’s Diversity Fellowship program will support incoming graduate students for up to two years; it is assumed that the student’s program will continue to support them via an assistantship in subsequent years.

Fellowships will provide two consecutive years of full tuition scholarships for the fall and spring semesters (summer courses not included), remission of standard student fees (Registration Fee, Health Services Fee, Technology, & Student Services Fees), health and dental insurance, a parking permit reimbursement, and an academic year stipend of $28,000. Students in PhD programs will receive an additional $14,000 to support their research over the summer months.

Potential fellows must be new applicants to master’s or doctoral graduate programs for admission in the fall semester. Only domestic students can be nominated. Fellows cannot hold any additional URI fellowship, assistantship, or scholarships during the award period. Domestic students may work on campus for five (5) additional hours on Graduate Student Hourly Payroll during the same academic year. Fellows must show adequate progress toward their degree and satisfactory progress in developing their research skills to qualify for a second year of funding.

Fellowship Timeline

  • First Call:
    • December 13: Application opens
    • January 12: Nominations deadline
    • Early February: Winners announced
  • Second Call:
    • January 12: Application opens
    • March 1: Nominations deadline
    • Early April: Winners announced

Eligibility and Terms

Nominees must be new applicants to Master’s or Doctoral programs for admission in the fall semester and be enrolled full-time in a graduate program by September 2024. Only domestic students can be nominated. Fellows must show adequate progress toward their degree and satisfactory progress in developing their research skills to qualify for a second year of funding.

Criteria for nomination:

  • Demonstrated ability and promise of academic achievement
  • Letters of reference
  • Cumulative grade point average and/or other examples of academic achievement
  • Personal statements of professional objectives and contributions to the University Mission
  • Other evidence of promise (e.g., publications, professional participation, etc.)

Eligible nominees for First-Year Dean’s Diversity Fellowships are U.S Citizens, U.S. Permanent Residents, or individuals granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) program who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in higher education (Hispanic or Latino, Black or African-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander)
  • First-generation college students (neither parent has a college degree)
  • Individuals of a gender identity underrepresented in the student’s intended field of study
  • Veterans
  • Individuals managing a disability

All will be reviewed and evaluated by the committee in making its decision.

Nomination Submission Instructions

Applications must be submitted by the department/program or faculty. There is no limit on the number of First-Year Dean’s Diversity Fellowship nominations. The nominations will be submitted via InfoReady and will include the following elements:

  • Graduate Program Director Letter of Reference: Letter of Reference written by the graduate program director including (1) the specific reasons why the nominee is considered a top applicant (2) how the fellowship offer would make URI a competitive option.
  • Nominee Admission Application: Upload the Nominee’s Full Application PDF from WebAdmit.
  • Program Diversity and Inclusion Efforts: Statement from the department chair or graduate program director describing department or program efforts towards diversity and inclusion.
  • Statement from the department chair detailing the type and extent of support the department will provide to the nominee should they receive the award but not complete all degree requirements within the two-year time frame of the fellowship.
  • Mentoring Plan: Statement from the potential advisor or program director articulating a mentoring plan to ensure the student’s success.

*Please note, all nominations during the first round that were not awarded a fellowship will also be considered during the second round.


Selection Criteria

Nominees are evaluated based on their academic promise and their merits. The criteria used by the committee to make their selections are as follows:

  • Nominee’s prior academic achievement (from admission application)
  • Program Director’s letter of reference
  • Statement of professional objectives (from admission application)
  • Program diversity and inclusion efforts
  • Advisor or program’s mentoring plan
  • Other evidence of achievement

Announcement of Fellowship Awardees

Awards will be announced in February and April via email to program directors, so the fellowship can be awarded with the admission offer. Copies will be sent to department chairs and deans. The initial notice of intention to award a fellowship for the Fall 2024 semester will specify that it is contingent upon the availability of budgetary resources.

The Graduate School will manage the disbursement of the fellowship award working directly with Enrollment Services.

For questions, please contact Jessica Coyle, Executive Assistant, at