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Application Guidelines

Goal: The primary goal of the Graduate Top-Off Fellowship program is to facilitate the recruitment of outstanding doctoral students to USC. Funds from the WiSE program provide $5,000 stipends to each of four incoming Ph.D. students in USC Dornsife and the Viterbi School of Engineering and may be renewed for a second year pending good progress in the student’s program.

Eligibility: Up to four non-transferrable fellowships are offered to entering PhD students in WiSE-eligible departments in the USC Dornsife and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Candidates must have already been awarded full departmental and/or university support equivalent to a 50% graduate assistantship (for instance, a 50% graduate assistantship, a 50% teaching assistantship, or some combination thereof). The WiSE Fellowship will then be used to “top-off” the existing regular support offer.

Nomination Process: Each WiSE-eligible department is allowed to nominate candidate(s) based on PhD program size (please rank if more than one). The nomination materials must be submitted electronically by the deadline to the WiSE Program office at Any faculty member (research or tenure track) with Ph.D. supervision privileges is eligible to submit nominations through their department. Research faculty without these privileges may also apply together with a tenure-track member in an advisory role. The following information must be submitted for each nominee:

  • A copy of the student’s application for admission which should include GRE scores, GPA for undergraduate and graduate studies (if applicable), research statement from the candidate’s general application, and at least two letters of support from previous mentors.
  • A brief statement from the department chair that describes how the support of these students will serve to increase the representation of women in science and engineering.


The WiSE Committee in USC Dornsife College and in the Viterbi School of Engineering will rank the applicants and offers will be extended to the top four candidates in each unit. Funds from the WiSE Program will provide two years of a WiSE Fellowship stipend for each student selected. Departments are encouraged to provide one additional year of the Fellowship for a total of three years as a Top-Off Fellow. Before awarding the second year continuation of the Fellowship, the satisfactory progress of the student will be verified. In the event that a student is not making satisfactory progress, the Fellowship will not be renewed