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The 2016 Fellowship Competition

Frequently Asked Questions

I was born outside the United States but don’t yet have a Green Card,  Can I apply even though I might not have actually obtained my Green Card by November 1, 2014? 

Your application will be deemed ineligible for consideration if you cannot present evidence of having received a Green Card on or before November 1, 2014. Back to top

I was born outside the United States but I certainly feel like a New American.  Could the program make an exception and accept my application even though I am still on a student visa?

 No.  Back to top

My father was born in Puerto Rico and my mother in the Canal Zone, where she was granted US citizenship by birth. They immigrated to the US, where I was born. Am I eligible for this program?

No. Both parents have to have been born abroad as non-US citizens. In your case, both parents were US citizens by birth, so as their American-born child, you are not eligible.  Back to top

I was born in the United States when my parents were here as graduate students. We returned to their home country when I was a baby and have lived there ever since. Neither parent is an American citizen. Am I eligible for this program?

No. Though your parents were born abroad, neither has become a naturalized citizen, so as their American-born child, you are not eligible. Back to top

I was born in Central Europe and came to the US for graduate study. Neither of my parents is an American citizen, but I have a green card. Am I eligible?

Yes. Since you were born abroad as a non-citizen of the US, your parents’ status is not relevant to your eligibility. Your green card qualifies you as a New American under our eligibility criteria.  Back to top

In March of 2015, I'll be in the 2nd half of a two-year graduate degree program. Even thought I would only be eligible for one sememster of support, I want to apply because of the prestige of being a Soros Fellow. Is that OK?

No. Your degree requirements must call for your full time academic working during all of academic year 2015-16. Back to top

There seem to be lots of fellows at medical and law schools.  Does the program favor candidates in these fields of study?

No.  Disproportionate numbers of students in – or applying to – medical and law schools apply to this fellowship program.  We don’t discriminate against them, but neither do we favor them.   Indeed, we encourage and value highly qualified and competitive candidates in very diverse fields of study.   The fact that there are relatively few fellows who are in the arts or engineering or some fields of the sciences reflects the relatively small numbers of applications we receive in those fields.  Back to top

Does the program have “quotas” or other kinds of limits on candidates whose families come from different areas of the world?  

No.  The differences in numbers of fellows whose families come from different areas of the world typically reflect the diversity of family backgrounds of applicants.   We encourage applications from individuals whose family backgrounds are very diverse, but we don’t in any way try to “balance” the representation of different heritages among those selected to receive fellowships. Back to top

I have been accepted to a graduate school that has close ties to the United States but is physically located in a foreign country.   Could the program make an exception and support my study at that institution?

No Back to top

I have been in an accelerated program at my college.   I am only 18 years old, but I’m a senior and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in June 2015.   Am I eligible to apply for support to a US graduate program?   

Yes.   There is no minimum age limit for eligibility. Back to top

I’m applying to graduate programs in the US for academic year 2015-2016. but might want to accept an offer to study abroad during that year and defer my American program until 2015-2016.  If I were offered a Soros Fellowship in the class of 2015, would I be able to defer my award for a year while I studied abroad?

No.  The program does not permit deferrals.  If you decided to study abroad during 2015-2016, you would, however, be eligible to apply for the following years’ Soros application process without prejudice. Back to top

I’m a college senior now and am applying for a graduate degree program that will require at least four years of study.   Would I be well advised to wait a couple of years to apply so that I’d have more experience and a more extensive set of accomplishments to present in my application?

The program will assess the evidence you present relative to your age, experience, and level of academic training.   Thus it will expect considerably less in the way of accomplishments from a 22-year old college senior than it will from a 28-year-old second year graduate student who worked for four years before beginning work on a graduate degree.   So, unless you really feel like a “late bloomer,” you should do as well in the competition as a senior as you would as a second-year graduate student. Back to top

If I apply for the 2015 competition, but don’t get selected as a fellow, can I apply again in a subsequent year if I am still eligible?

Yes, and you can be assured that your application will be given full and equitable consideration.    It is not unusual for fellows selected in one year to have been unsuccessful candidates in previous years.   On the other hand, a candidate who was chosen as a finalist in one year will not necessarily be chosen as a finalist in a subsequent competition.   On balance, the level of competition becomes more rigorous as the program becomes more widely known. Back to top

If I were awarded a fellowship in the Soros Class of 2015, when would the fellowship begin?

Typically, you would take up the Fellowship at the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year. If, however, you were, in March 2015, in the next to last year of your graduate degree profram, we would endeavor to activate your award retroactively to you then-current semester or quarter. Back to top

I am in a joint MD/JD program. I will finish the 3rd year of my MD work in the spring of 2015 and will devote academic year 2015-15 to my 3rd (and last) year in Law School. Will I then be able to apply the second year of my Soros fellowship to cover my 4th year of medical school?

No, Soros support can only be used to cover full time study in a degree program on which you have not yet begun your 3rd year of study as of the application deadline. Back to top

If I were awarded a fellowship in the Soros Class of 2015, might the amount of support I could obtain from the Soros program be influenced by the provisions of other awards, or employment I held or might win?

Yes.  You would be asked to inform the Program of other awards that you had received and/or were still competing for.   You would typically be asked to accept a total combined award package that would not exceed full tuition, required fees, plus $35,000 for maintenance.    If you wished to work during he period of the Fellowship, the Soros Program Director  would want to determine that such employment was primarily designed to strengthen and promote your professional or academic or artistic development. Back to top

What should I consider in deciding whether or not to apply for a Soros fellowship?

The most important consideration is the extent to which, given the challenges and opportunities you have had as a New American, your story demonstrates that you are a person with a spark of creativity and originality who will make a distinctive contribution to some aspect of American life.

Though many applicants who are serious contenders for an award have already been recognized by and admitted to elite institutions, many others have not. Some come with excellent GPAs and test scores, many other do not. Some are in advanced stages of graduate study; others are college seniors or in entry-level jobs. So these considerations should not deter you from applying.

On the other hand, the program is highly competitive, so don't apply unless you feel you can show that you will use your graduate study to prepare you to make a truly distinctive contribution to some aspect of American life. Back to top

Why do you allow foreign-born individuals who have green cards to apply but don't allow US-born children of parents who have green cards to apply?

We identify immigrants as New Americans if they show evidence of a reasonable level of commitment to becoming Americans (as opposed, for example, to students who are on educational visas and are likely to return to their countries of origin). We take that level of commitment to be demonstrated most clearly by potential applicants who have become naturalized citizens. We also recognize, however, that many will have come relatively recently to the US and still be in the process leading to naturalization, which is why we treat their having obtained a green card as acceptable evidence of that level of commitment.

The Trustees do not wish to say that only immigrants are eligible because many individuals born in this country to immigrants are also "New Americans." How does one differentiate "New Americans" born in the US from others born in the US? We say that this is best done by determining whether both parents were non-Americans at birth and whether at least one of them had shown sufficient commitment to becoming an American to become a naturalized citizen. The great majority of parents of potential applicants who were born in the United States will have been in this country for at least 20 years and will have had ample time to complete the naturalization process, which is why we do not consider just having a green card as sufficient evidence of their commitment to becoming an American citizen. We recognize, however, that significant numbers of US-born potential applicants have either remained in contact with only one parent or have one parent who either did not come to the United States or returned to her or his country without having become a citizen. That is why we require evidence that only one -- as opposed to both -- parents has become a naturalized citizen.

The Trustees and program staff recognize that these eligibility criteria seem in a small number of cases arbitrarily to exclude some potential applicants who legitimately feel like they are New Americans and in other cases arbitrarily to include a few potential applicants who do not seem, on the surface at least, to be New Americans. These are, however, the criteria that, after considering over 12,000 applicants, seem most satisfactorily, fairly, and objectively identify those whom the Soroses and the Trustees hope to support under this fellowship program.