Skip to:

Announcement

Rackham Graduate School will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 22. We will return at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 27. During the holiday, there will be no processing of application materials and no updates to your Wolverine Access account. After we reopen, there will be a delay in processing application materials. Thank you for your patience as we process the high volume of materials.

Rackham Merit Fellowship Program

A key part of realizing our full potential when it comes to excellence is creating a campus climate that allows diversity to flourish – in all its forms.

President Mark S. Schlissel

The Rackham Merit Fellowship (RMF) Program helps sustain the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the Michigan graduate community, one that embraces students with diverse experiences and goals, and who come from many educational, cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds. By offering financial assistance to those students who might not otherwise have access, we aim to reduce disparities in graduate education. We also aim to promote the values of diversity and inclusion by encouraging the admission and funding of students who represent a broad array of life experiences and perspectives, because this enhances the quality of the intellectual environment for all students.

Award Eligibility

The Rackham Merit Fellowship is open to newly admitted students in a Rackham graduate degree program who:

  • Have a record of superior academic achievement (e.g., grade point average, honors, or other designation);
  • Are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA)

And meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Come from an educational, cultural or geographic background that is underrepresented in graduate study in their discipline in the United States or at the University of Michigan;
  • Have demonstrated a sustained commitment to diversity in the academic, professional, or civic realm through their work experience, volunteer engagement, or leadership of student or community organizations. By commitment to diversity, we mean efforts in the U.S. to reduce social, educational or economic disparities based on race, ethnicity or gender, or to improve race relations in the U.S.;
  • Have experienced financial hardship as a result of family economic circumstances;
  • Are first-generation U.S. citizens or are the first generation in their families to graduate from a four-year college.

Collaborative Funding Model

The Rackham Merit Fellowship is a collaborative funding package in which the graduate school and individual graduate programs work together to recognize entering students who have outstanding academic qualifications, show exceptional potential for scholarly success in their graduate program, and demonstrate promise for contributing to wider academic, professional, or civic communities. Graduate students do not apply directly for the RMF, but are nominated by faculty in their graduate program.

Types of Rackham Merit Fellowships

To meet the needs of specific graduate programs, Rackham has created customized versions of the RMF. Although the intent and purpose of these fellowships are all similar, the award terms differ. Please contact the Rackham Fellowships Office for additional information. See the chart below for all the types of Rackham Merit Fellowships.

Rackham Merit Fellowship and Customized Variations for Specific Graduate Programs
Degree Level Degree Program College, School or Unit Name
Master’s All All Rackham Master’s Award (RMA)
Doctoral Multiple Multiple Rackham Merit Fellow
Doctoral Engineering programs College of Engineering Rackham Engineering Award (REA)
Doctoral Science programs LS&A (natural science departments); Medical School Rackham Science Award (RSA)
Doctoral Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) PIBS Rackham Merit Fellow

How Funding Works

The RMF is a funding partnership between Rackham and the graduate program that includes tuition, stipend, health and dental coverage, during each fall and winter semester, with select summer stipend and benefits. Graduate programs are expected to provide support equivalent to a 0.50 appointment (typically in the form of a fellowship, traineeship, GSRA or GSI) during the non-Rackham funded semesters. The funding collaboration is intended to provide the maximum educational benefit for the student. For Ph.D. students, the RMF is typically 5 years of funding. RMF awards may be deferred on a term-by-term basis with prior approval from the fellow's graduate program and Rackham. See the chart below for the funding arrangement for each RMF.

Funding Arrangements by Rackham Merit Fellowship Variations (cohorts starting in Fall 2015 and beyond)
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
RMF Rackham Program Program Rackham* Rackham*
REA Rackham Program Program Rackham* Program
RSA Rackham Rackham/Program Rackham*/Program Program Program
PIBS Rackham Rackham/Program Rackham*/Program Program Program

* Student must be a Candidate to receive RMF support in Years 4 and 5. If candidacy is not achieved by the beginning of Year 4, the student will forfeit a Rackham-funded candidacy term for each semester the student is not a candidate.

The RMF for master’s students provides tuition, stipend, health and dental coverage during each term of the award. The funding collaboration is typically one semester by Rackham and one semester provided by the program.

Information for all Rackham Merit Fellows

Award Description

To receive Rackham's support during the Fall and Winter terms, fellows must be registered full-time (minimum of 9 hours each term for master's students and pre-candidates, and 8 hours for candidates). The stipend level is currently $10,200 per semester for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Doctoral students may receive stipend support during one Spring/Summer term if they are involved full-time in activities related to the completion of their degree requirements. Spring/Summer RMF support does not include tuition.

Award Acceptance

All RMF awardees must indicate their award acceptance decision. To accept the RMF, the student must complete the Rackham Merit Fellowship Program Decision Form by April 15, 2018.

With graduate program approval, fellowship recipients may defer the RMF award for up to one academic year.

Benefits

Health and dental insurance are provided as a part of all Rackham fellowships. Health and dental coverage may be continued over an intervening summer between two academic terms of benefit-eligible support.

Students awarded Rackham fellowships are eligible to elect vision insurance and/or the legal plan. There is no university contribution for these benefits. For more information, please see the Graduate Student section of the Benefits Office website.

Supplemental Employment

The Rackham Merit Fellowship awardees are expected to be engaged full-time in making academic progress (e.g., coursework, research). Therefore, a fellow may not accept supplemental employment involving more than 10 hours of work each week while receiving RMF fellowship support. In the case of Graduate Student Instructors (GSI), Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRA), or Graduate Student Staff Assistant (GSSA), the supplemental employment would be limited to a 0.25 appointment.

According to University contracts and policies, units appointing students to Graduate Student Assistant (GSA includes GSI, GSRA and GSSA) positions are required to pay the tuition and benefits when an appointment is at least 0.25. When students are on the RMF fellowship and have a 0.25 GSA (the maximum supplemental employment), Rackham continues to pay the tuition and benefits.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Rackham Merit Fellows are expected to meet the satisfactory academic progress standards established by their graduate degree program and the Graduate School throughout the period of fellowship tenure. All graduate students are encouraged to routinely seek direction and counsel from their faculty advisor, graduate program chair, and faculty mentor(s) during every term. Fellows experiencing academic difficulties are strongly advised to obtain early assistance from their graduate program and the Rackham Office of Graduate Student Success.

Program Changes/Dual Degrees

Rackham Merit Fellowships are awarded for study in the Rackham program that nominated the student. Fellows who wish to change fields or add programs must have their eligibility for continued RMF support reviewed and approved by their new graduate program and the Rackham Fellowships Office prior to making the change.

Note to joint or dual degree students: Fellows pursuing joint or dual degrees with non-Rackham degree programs must file their program(s) of study with the Rackham Fellowships Office before the funding can be released. Rackham funds may not be used to pay tuition for University of Michigan courses taken while registered in a non-Rackham degree program.

Information for Faculty and Staff in Doctoral Programs

Graduate students do not apply directly for the RMF, but are nominated by faculty in their graduate program. Nominees are encouraged to provide their graduate program with relevant information regarding their personal background and life experiences, including educational, cultural, familial or other opportunities or challenges in their personal statement in the Rackham application for admission.

Assessing Rackham Merit Fellowship Eligibility

The Guide to Assessing Rackham Merit Fellowship Eligibility (pdf) is intended to help graduate chairs and admissions committees identify newly admitted students who may be nominated for the Rackham Merit Fellowship (RMF) Program. Deciding which students to nominate requires a holistic evaluation process, and information found in different parts of the Rackham Admissions Application can help determine which students are best qualified for an RMF nomination.

RMF Doctoral Competition Nomination Procedures and Evaluation

All Ph.D. programs may nominate eligible entering doctoral students for the RMF doctoral competition through the RMF Nomination website. Instructions for using the RMF Nomination website are available. Within the nomination website, graduate programs will need to:

  • Select nomination type "Doctoral Competition, deadline: specific date"
  • Complete the RMF nomination; and
  • Upload a PDF of the nominee's admissions letter.

Doctoral programs must complete and submit nominations prior to the Thursday, February 1, 2018 and Thursday, March 8, 2018 deadlines. Programs may submit up to ten (10) nominations across both rounds, but may not nominate a student more than once. An e-mail will be sent to the graduate program confirming Rackham's receipt of the nomination.

Nominations for the Rackham Merit Fellowship competition are reviewed by faculty committees on a rolling basis following each submission deadline (February 1, 2018 and March 8, 2018). Individual nominations are evaluated on a competitive basis based on the nominee's academic excellence and contributions to diversity. The Rackham Fellowships Office will notify graduate programs of award decisions within three (3) weeks of the nomination deadline.

Selected Doctoral Programs Receiving an RMF Allocation

Selected Rackham doctoral programs receive an award allocation to administer their own internal Rackham Merit Fellowship award process using the RMF eligibility criteria. Award allocations are considered on an annual basis, based on the graduate program's ability to successfully recruit, retain and graduate a diverse student body. Allocation letters are sent to select graduate programs late in the Fall term, prior to the admission season. Doctoral students newly admitted in these programs are selected for RMF awards by their admitting program and are not entered in the doctoral competition.

RMF allocations are awarded to doctoral students through the RMF Nomination website. Instructions for using the RMF Nomination website are available. Within the nomination website, graduate programs will need to:

  • Select nomination type "Doctoral Allocation, deadline: April 15, 2018"
  • Complete the RMF nomination; and
  • Upload a PDF of the nominee's admissions letter.

All doctoral program allocations that have not been awarded by April 15, 2018 will revert back to Rackham.

After your graduate program fully commits the RMF allocation and has identified additional students who meet the RMF criteria, the graduate program may submit up to ten (10) additional nominations across both rounds of the RMF competition (February 1, 2018 and March 8, 2018 deadline), but may not nominate a student more than once. Fully committing the RMF allocation means that students are admitted into the doctoral program and their RMF allocations have been entered and submitted prior to the competition deadline.

External Fellowship Funding for Doctoral Students

Graduate students are strongly encouraged to seek funding from sources external to the University of Michigan. Rackham Merit Fellows may not hold other competitive fellowships simultaneously with the RMF, with the exception of the GEM fellowship which is used concurrently with the RMF. In the case of awards external to the University for which Rackham provides cost-sharing (e.g., Ford, NSF, DOD, NASA), fellows may be able to use a portion of, or defer the entire, RMF award. Please see the cost-sharing guidelines for more information.

Awards external to the University with a minimum stipend of $20,001 will extend the student's funded period at the University. Graduate programs are required to provide their support of RMF students prior to post-candidacy RMF funding. Fellows and their graduate programs are expected to notify the Rackham Fellowships Office about any supplemental fellowship awards or other funding received by a fellow, or the student's remaining RMF funding may be forfeited. Upon notification, the Rackham Fellowships Office will work with the graduate program to create an individualized funding plan for the student that integrates the RMF, graduate program, and external award funding.

Information for Faculty and Staff in Master's Programs

Rackham Master’s Award Competition

Rackham Master’s Awards (RMAs) are structured as collaborative funding between the Rackham Graduate School and the graduate program to assist eligible master's students with support consisting of tuition, health and dental insurance, and a stipend ($10,200 per semester during the 2017-2018 academic year). Graduate programs are required to provide each RMA recipient with one semester of matching support (equivalent to a 0.5 GSRA or GSSA).

Starting in January 2018, Rackham master's programs may nominate up to four (4) eligible entering master’s students (with a few exceptions) for the Rackham Master’s Award (RMA) through the RMF Nomination website. Instructions for using the RMF Nomination website are available. Within the nomination website, graduate programs will need to:

  • Select nomination type "Master’s Competition, deadline: specific date"
  • Complete the RMF nomination;
  • Commit to one semester of matching funding; and
  • Upload a PDF of the nominee's admissions letter.

Master’s programs must complete and submit nominations prior to the Thursday, February 22, 2018 and Thursday, March 15, 2018 deadlines. Programs may submit up to four (4) nominations (with a few exceptions) across both rounds, but may not nominate a student more than once. An e-mail will be sent to the graduate program confirming Rackham's receipt of the nomination.

Nominations for the RMA competition are reviewed by committees on a rolling basis following each submission deadline (February 22, 2018 and March 15, 2018). Individual nominations are evaluated on a competitive basis based on the nominee's academic excellence and contributions to diversity.

The Rackham Fellowships Office will notify graduate programs of award decisions within two (2) weeks of the nomination deadline. Master's programs are responsible for notifying graduate students of the RMF award. RMAs that have not been awarded or accepted by April 15, 2018 will revert back to Rackham. The Rackham Fellowships Office will process the RMA to the student’s account.

Guide to Assessing Rackham Merit Fellowship Eligibility

Guide to Assessing Rackham Merit Fellowship Eligibility (PDF) is intended to help graduate chairs and admissions committees identify newly admitted students who may be nominated for the Rackham Merit Fellowship (RMF) Program. Deciding which students to nominate requires a holistic evaluation process, and information found in different parts of the Rackham Admissions Application can help determine which students are best qualified for an RMF nomination.

External Fellowship Funding for Master’s Students

Graduate students are strongly encouraged to seek funding from sources external to the University of Michigan. Rackham Merit Fellows may not hold other competitive fellowships simultaneously with the RMF, with the exception of the GEM fellowship which is used concurrently with the RMF.

In the case of awards external to the University for which Rackham provides cost-sharing, fellows may be able to use a portion of, or defer the entire, RMF award. Please see the cost-sharing guidelines for more information. Fellows and their graduate programs are expected to notify the Rackham Fellowships Office about any supplemental fellowship awards or other funding received by a fellow, or the student's remaining RMF funding may be forfeited.