Stay ahead of the curve and establish a strategy for collecting the most qualified applications. Our complete application and admissions process can help your organization achieve its goals and before fellowship applications begin to roll in, your university’s fellowship office needs to take an organized and efficient approach to evaluate each candidate.

You can use CommunityForce’s resources to make sure you are awarding fellowships to the best candidates. Learn how to set clear award selection criteria, put together a well-prepared review team, and encourage communication throughout the process.

Here are a few steps you can take to be sure your fellowship awardees are the perfect fit for your program:

Be clear about how you’re judging fellowship candidates

By minimizing confusion about your criteria and scoring system, you can help your fellowship selection committee make better decisions.

Define each criterion

If you have a list of evaluation criteria, is there room for interpretation on how they should be applied? Provide your reviewers with a detailed definition of each criterion, so they’re reading each application through the same lens.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Make no assumptions. If you have a diverse review team, you might not be sure of their knowledge in your field. Avoid industry jargon or acronyms.
  • Use plain language. Strive for clarity. Ask someone who’s not familiar with your fellowship program to read the definition.
  • Provide examples. When applicable, this is the best way to clarify your meaning.

Apply a scoring system

Depending on the type of criteria, you may be able to score with a simple Yes or No. But in most cases, you need something more nuanced. The easiest way to do this is by adding a numerical scoring system. However, like before, being clear about definitions is crucial. The number itself doesn’t matter, it’s the meaning behind it that does.

This makes it so much easier for the reviewer to evaluate. And, when you use a fellowship management solution, they can see the application and scorecard side-by-side, rather than toggling between multiple tabs or flipping through physical documents.

Assemble a well-prepared fellowship review team

Evaluate potential reviewers

As a starting point, here’s a list of questions you should keep in mind as you’re considering potential reviewers.

  • Would they be conscientious about their responsibility?
  • Do they manage their time well?
  • Are they knowledgeable about your field/industry/topic?
  • Would they have any conflicts of interest?
  • What commitments might interfere with their participation?
  • Have they participated in a fellowship selection committee before?

As your team is coming together, take a step back, and ask:

  • Will fellowship applicants feel the committee is qualified?
  • Is there enough diversity to make sure you’re seeing all perspectives?
  • Do you need representation from individuals outside your industry or field?

Walkthrough the evaluation criteria together

We’ve already talked about the importance of defining your evaluation criteria. This is the best way to help your reviewers make well-informed decisions. However, don’t take for granted that everyone is on the same page.

It’s important to host a group orientation before they begin their review assignments. Having discussions about the criteria will reinforce what they’re looking for and clear up any gray areas.

You may want to summarize any clarifications in writing after you meet. If you’re using fellowship management tool, you could update the scorecard with customized instructions or reminders.

Encourage collaboration

Since committees are usually working independently on their own assignments, this can inhibit collaboration. Having a broader perspective benefits the decision-making process. Look for ways to let reviewers bounce ideas off each other, ask questions, or raise issues.

Using a fellowship management software makes this easier by allowing for comments directly in the application itself. Reviewers can make a note, and then send a message to fellow committee members or the fellowship coordinator. They can even communicate directly with the candidate if they need more information or clarification.

This all adds up to a more robust review process with better outcomes. By clarifying your fellowship evaluation criteria and putting a strong, well-prepared selection committee in place, you can guarantee an excellent decision.

Discover how we can help your organization get the best return on your fellowship process:

View Assignments Dashboard

Find all the information you need for your assigned tasks on a single dashboard. Analyze the review progress and scores and filter accordingly to save wasted time spent searching for relevant information.

how to choose the perfect fellowship candidate


Comprehensive evaluation progress

Review applications at a glance with the same screen display functionality. Use an online scoring rubric along with comments from other committee members and recommended funding to reach a well-rounded and unbiased decision.

How to Choose the Perfect Fellowship Candidate

Create exceptional opportunities for innovation with CommunityForce. Streamline your fellowship process, effortlessly collect and review diverse applications, automate workflows, and focus on what matters most – selecting the best candidates and maximizing their impact.