Blue Waters Graduate Fellowships

Blue Waters Graduate Fellowships provide PhD students with a year of support, including a $38,000 stipend, up to $12,000 in tuition allowance, an allocation of up to 50,000 node-hours on the powerful Blue Waters petascale computing system, and funds for travel to a Blue Waters-sponsored symposium to present research progress and results.

Applications for the 2016-2017 fellowships are due by midnight Pacific time on Feb. 3, 2016.

For the Fellowships, preference will be given to candidates engaged in a multidisciplinary research project that combines disciplines such as computer science, applied mathematics, and computational science applications. Applicants should be in the second or later year of their graduate program with a well-developed, related research proposal. Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. by the time of the application deadline. Applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Academic record from undergraduate and graduate work

  • GRE scores

  • Related experience and service

  • Research plan and its relationship to use of the Blue Waters supercomputer

  • Letters of reference

Questions? Contact

Application Instructions

There are a number of parts to the application. You should gather the materials for all portions of the application and prepare each portion prior to uploading the application online. All of the materials must be uploaded in a single online session. A red asterisk denotes a required item.

The fellowship application requires:

  1. A project title.

  2. An abstract (max. 750 characters) of your proposed project.

  3. A personal statement (max. 5,500 characters) concerning your career goals and experience. This is limited to text, but you can upload ancillary illustrations or references as a separate file.

  4. A research statement (max. 5,500 characters) defining your research topic and how it uses a Blue Waters allocation. This is also limited to text, but you can upload ancillary illustrations or references as a separate file.

  5. Unofficial transcripts from both undergraduate and graduate institutions uploaded with the application.

  6. Contact and optional demographic information.

  7. Relevant information on education, experience, GRE test scores, and academic activities.

Along with these materials, we require a minimum of three and maximum of four reference letters to be separately submitted by your references. Reference letters are required from your PhD advisor and the chair of your home department. The additional letters can be from anyone who can address your capabilities and ability to carry out the proposed research program and the potential impact you will have in your career. Your references will receive an official request for their letters by email once your application has been uploaded. Reference letters must be submitted by your references by midnight Pacific time on Feb. 10, 2016. You should approach your references early to let them know to expect the official request. The contents of that request are shown in the FAQ section.

Once all of the materials have been completed and uploaded, you will receive an email from the Blue Waters Fellowship office acknowledging the completed application package.

Title and Abstract

You will be asked to provide a title for your project and an abstract not to exceed 750 characters.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is a one-page summary that describes your personal, professional, and educational experiences and future educational, professional development, and career goals. In your statement, outline your educational and professional development and career goals. Describe personal, educational, and/or professional experiences that motivated your decision to pursue advanced study. Include specific examples of any research and/or professional activities in which you have participated. Present a concise description of the activities, highlight the results, and discuss how these activities have prepared you to seek your graduate degree. Specify your role in the activity including the extent to which you worked independently and/or as part of a team, and how you contributed to the team's activity. Explain what is unique about you and why you should be selected. Discuss why you would make an outstanding Blue Waters Fellow.

This statement is limited to 5,500 characters of text. There is an option to upload ancillary illustrations or references as a separate file.

Research Statement

Using the same format as that specified for the personal statement, present a one-page summary of your proposed research topic. Describe the research idea, your approach, and how you will use Blue Waters resources to pursue your topic. Your statement should clearly define how parallel computing resources, data analysis, and/or visualization are critical to addressing your topic. Indicate how the research will advance knowledge and understanding within your field of study. You may choose to include important literature citations and information on the codes that will be used or developed as part of the research effort. Explain how having access to Blue Waters would further your research goals and accelerate or expand the impact of your research.

This statement is also limited to 5,500 characters of text and also has the option of uploading ancillary illustrations and references as a separate file.


Unofficial transcripts from your current graduate institution and your undergraduate institution are required. Although these documents are handled confidentially, we recommend that you redact all sensitive and personally identifiable information on the transcripts including social security numbers, financial information, home addresses, and home telephone numbers. Scan in an electronic copy of the redacted document to PDF format to upload when you are preparing your fellowship application.  If you attended more than one undergraduate institution, you can submit a combined document that summarizes your undergraduate experience.

Ensure the transcript uploaded meets the following requirements:

  1. The transcripts must be legible
  2. The applicant name must be listed
  3. The school name must be listed
  4. If the institution does not use a 4.0 grade scale, provide the grade scale used as the last page of the document

Contact, Demographic, and Education Information

The online form asks for your contact information, some background demographics, and the list of references for your fellowship application.

Enter your name, current address, email, and office and cell telephone numbers. It is especially important to provide an email and phone number where you can easily be reached in case any questions about your application arise. The citizenship information is to confirm you are a U.S. Citizen or will be a permanent resident of the U.S. by the time of the application deadline.

The demographic information is optional. Please note that none of the demographic information will be available to the reviewers of the fellowship applications but will help in the assessment of this program for continuing funding.

The next section covers information about your education and experience. Under "Past Education," list each of the higher education institutions from which you received a degree along with the major, the date the degree was awarded, and your GPA. If you attended more than one institution for your baccalaureate career (e.g., you attended a community college or another institution before transferring to your baccalaureate institution, you took summer courses or studied abroad, etc.), you only need to list the degree-granting institution. The final entry should be your current institution and your estimated date of graduation. This is also the graduate institution for which we require an unofficial transcript as part of the application materials.

For your graduate program, indicate your primary field of study and a secondary area of study, if any. Enter your GRE (or other approved test) scores. Indicate whether you have passed your general exams and the date of that exam. If you have not yet passed the general exam, indicate the anticipated date of that exam.

Under "Course Plan for Next Year," insert your expected coursework over the next year starting with the courses that are not yet on your transcript. Indicate research or dissertation credit hours as relevant.

The section on publications, presentations, and technical documents is an opportunity to highlight your relevant research accomplishments. You may include any papers or technical reports on which you are an author or co-author. You may also indicate conference presentations where you were the primary presenter. For those entries, include the conference name and dates.

Finally, enter information about your awards, teaching, or service activities. You may include experience as a teaching assistant or instructor, service to the university and profession, and honors and awards you have received to date.


For your three to four reference letters, you must provide name, institution, and email contact information for each of your references. They will each receive an email from the fellowship office that provides background information on the fellowship and requests that s/he submit a reference letter on your behalf. Again, reference letters must be submitted by your references by midnight Pacific time on Feb. 10, 2016

You will then be given a chance to review your application before submitting it.