I was wondering what's the difference between a research grant and a fellowship ?

I am currently finishing my PhD and I am looking for funding for my postdoc. I came across a call for proposal of a fundation and it gives details of Regulations about "research grants" and Regulations about "fellowships". Should I ask for a "research grant" or a "fellowship"?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Probably you should use the differences stated in the two sets of regulations to help you decide that. Hard to give any advice without that knowledge.
    – Buffy
    Jan 26, 2019 at 12:37
  • @Buffy in Regulations about research grants: "Funding is for laboratory expenses, equipment, access to a technology platform... A fixed amount will be awarded: XXX€ max per project" and in regulations about fellowships "XXX support covers salary (XXX € for a PhD fellowship; XXX € for a postdoctoral fellowship)"
    – learners
    Jan 26, 2019 at 12:42
  • Then, do you need salary covered or just expenses. That is the key differences. I assume the "grant" doesn't imply salary and may forbid it.
    – Buffy
    Jan 26, 2019 at 12:45
  • @Buffy I do need a salary yes! but I don't think grant doesn't apply salary because its written that "the amount for the salary cannot exceed 1/3 of the total requested amount" that's why im confused
    – learners
    Jan 26, 2019 at 13:55
  • 1
    Although I don't know for sure, I suspect your actual question is a lot more narrow than the title suggests. It seems like you are trying to decide between applying for a particular grant versus a particular fellowship (each from a particular foundation). The differences between those particular opportunities may not apply to grants/fellowships overall. Without some clarification I'm going to vote to close as unclear; I think it could also 'depend on individual factors': I think you have to understand the specific funding you are applying for based on what the funder says.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 27, 2019 at 4:34

2 Answers 2


Not sure what country you are in, but the usual difference between fellowship and grant funding in the UK is eligibility.

A fellowship is for somebody who does not yet have an academic position (that is, they are not a lecturer with an ongoing job). The fellowship supports them to do research that they choose and usually has a strong element of mentorship and other development.

On the other hand, a grant is for someone who already has an academic position and will lead the research. The academic wins the grant and then hires postdocs to conduct the research. The postdocs hired do not get to choose their research topic.

  • 2
    Senior fellowships exist (e.g. Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator). More generally, a fellowship is awarded to a person, and generally covers your salary in full (as well as the research costs), while a research grant is awarded to a project, and it is expected that the host institution pays most of the salary of the person applying (but not those doing the research) and will guarantee to do so for the whole period of the grant. Jan 28, 2019 at 12:52
  • @IanSudbery True, but OP is finishing PhD so I was describing the relevant difference for that situation
    – JenB
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:45

Given the explanations in the comments, the choice seems clear. If you can justify a grant that is three times the salary you need, and actually have a way to use those funds in a way acceptable to the grantor, then you want the grant. This might be true in chemistry, say, where you need to support a lab.

But if your only real need is to support yourself, say as in mathematics or philosophy, then the fellowship is more likely. Some funds are needed in these fields to support publication costs, and maybe office space, but not likely enough to justify a large grant.

You need to have a justification for the money you request, whichever you choose.

  • Thank you but what's weird is that if we look in the amount of money, fellowship gives more than the grant...
    – learners
    Jan 26, 2019 at 15:40
  • and should I not just choose Fellowship since its in it paragraph where we can read about postdoc and salary
    – learners
    Jan 26, 2019 at 15:42
  • 1
    It appears as though the organization is willing to pay for supplemental salary (e.g. summer salary) for someone who receives a grant, but that fellowships are intended to pay the full salaries of PhD students and postdocs. A full year's salary for a postdoc would typically be more than a month of summer salary for a faculty member. Jan 26, 2019 at 18:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .