I am currently halfway through my first year of a multi-year PhD fellowship. After the first year, you must re-apply to be awarded the remaining years. I am currently undecided as to whether or not I would like to reapply.

The fellowship research objective is somewhat tangential to my interests and basically ends up being a situation of theoretical/algorithmic (my interest) vs application/data-analysis (the fellowship). I feel that as a result, my primary research progress is suffers in order to either transfer the my work to the fellowship's domain or to have an additional project that satisfies the fellowship in addition to my thesis work. While this wouldn't be an issue if I enjoyed the additional work, I am realizing that I have no interest in the fellowship research objective, which makes it difficult to digest the literature and also to perform related research. On top of all of this, I aim to finish my PhD as quickly as possible (two-body problem related), and am worried this fellowship will delay my progress.

My main question for this post is how much value is it to have a multi-year fellowship on your CV as opposed to just a single year? Would it be better to stay in the fellowship and try to change my research as little as possible to satisfy the fellowship requirements or would it be better to lose the remaining fellowship title and funds in order to have less of a distraction from my interest-area?

  • You don't mention funding as an issue. Does the fellowship support you financially?
    – Buffy
    Apr 14, 2022 at 13:45
  • The fellowship covers most of my funding, but not all. At the same time, I still have at least 3 semesters of funding left from the department. I don't think I will need additional funding after those semesters, I believe our PI is supposed to support us for at least until our 4th year or something along those lines (I'm in my second year). Apr 14, 2022 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


The usual purpose of a fellowship is to permit you to get a doctorate. If it doesn't contribute to that, and causes a delay, then I see no advantage in it at all. With few exceptions, having a fellowship on your CV is a small and temporary advantage. The more important thing, driving your future is the quality of your research and, in the short term, the regard your advisor(s) have for you.

You haven't mentioned any advantages other than a hypothetical "does this look good on my CV". It probably does, for a while, but not at the expense of finishing, especially given your other constraints.

This was long ago, but I never felt any advantage from fellowships that I held other than the money that permitted my study. And they were free of restrictions other than the general field.

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