Davidson Fellows - Frequently Asked Questions

Davidson Fellows


Q. Who is eligible to apply for the Davidson Fellows scholarship?
To be eligible for the Davidson Fellows scholarship, an applicant must:

  • Be 18 or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016.
  • Be a U.S. citizen residing in the United States, or a Permanent Resident of the United States residing in the United States, or be stationed overseas due to active U.S. military duty.
  • Have completed a significant piece of work in one of the submission categories.
  • Be able to demonstrate that the work is his or her own creation.
  • Be able to attend, with at least one parent or guardian, the awards reception in Washington, D.C.
    (Note: Travel and lodging expenses will be paid by the Institute.)

Q. Are group or team projects eligible?
No. Submissions must be the work of an individual.

Q. Are projects involving human or animal subjects/tissues eligible?
Applications involving human subjects, live vertebrates, or live invertebrates are not eligible. However, the Davidson Fellows program will consider certain tissue-related projects, if and only if the applicant can demonstrate:

  • The materials were collected for other purposes;
  • AND the student is collaborating with a qualified lead scientist;
  • AND the lead scientist provides to the Institute documented approval from a recognized Institutional Review Board or Scientific Review Committee.

Documentation must be submitted and will be reviewed by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, which, at its sole discretion, will determine eligibility. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development, in its sole discretion, also may require that other conditions be met before tissue-related projects will be considered further.


Q. Is someone older than 18 eligible to apply for a Davidson Fellows scholarship?
No. Individuals are NOT eligible to apply for Davidson Fellows if they have reached their 19th birthday on or before October 1.

Q. Is there a minimum age to apply to be a Davidson Fellow?
No. There is no minimum age for eligibility.

Q. Is the Davidson Fellows scholarship for high school seniors only?
The Davidson Fellows scholarship eligibility is based on age, not grade level. Students at any grade level are welcome to apply provided they meet our Eligibility and Project Criteria requirements.


Q. How can I obtain a Davidson Fellows application?
Category requirements can be downloaded from our website here. If you have questions, please email

Q. What is required to apply for a Davidson Fellows scholarship?
Each category has different requirements. Every applicant must submit the required elements outlined within their category of choice, plus two nominator forms and all of the Attachments. Applicants and their parents also must sign a statement of commitment that, if named a Davidson Fellow, the applicant and a parent or guardian will attend the award reception in Washington, D.C.

Q. What is the deadline for Davidson Fellows scholarship applications? 
Usually in early February. The 2016 application deadline has passed. The 2017 application information and deadline will be posted soon.

Q. How do I submit my complete Davidson Fellows application?
Davidson Fellows application can be accessed through our online application system on the How to Apply page.

Q. May I fax or email my application?

Q. What is a visual model as stated on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and Outside the Box applications?
This model is the visual representation of your research and findings. The visual model can be as individual as your project. It may be photos, a PowerPoint presentation, graphs, diagrams, illustrations, etc.; your project will dictate how you present your work. We also suggest asking your nominators how to best present your research and findings.

Q. Does the application upload have to be typed?
All application materials must be typed.

Q. Does the work submitted as part of a Davidson Fellows application belong to the Davidson Institute?
Any intellectual property contained within the Davidson Fellows applications remains the property of the applicant.

Q. Do I have to follow the exact instructions on the Davidson Fellows application?
Applicants must follow the stated directions. The instructions have been developed by past judges and are designed to allow the applicant the best opportunity to demonstrate his or her work. Failure to follow directions may result in disqualification.

Q. Can I apply in more than one category?
No. Applicants may apply in only one category. The categories are: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), Humanities (Music, Literature, Philosophy) and Outside the Box. The Outside the Box category is defined as a project that is university graduate level work or comparable, and completed with the supervision of an expert or experts

Projects/Significant Piece of Work

Q. What general level of work is the Davidson Institute looking for?
The Davidson Institute is looking for students whose projects are at or close to the college graduate level with a depth of knowledge in their particular area of study. This scholarship is not geared toward students at the novice level.

Q. What is a significant piece of work as defined by the Davidson Fellows scholarship?
To qualify for consideration as a Davidson Fellow, an applicant must contribute a work that is recognized as an outstanding accomplishment by experts in the field and has the potential to benefit society. A qualified work may be an exceptionally creative application of existing knowledge; a new idea with high impact; a unique application; an innovative solution with broad-range implications; an important advancement that can be replicated and built upon; an interdisciplinary discovery with the potential to effect positive change; or other demonstration of extraordinary accomplishment.

Q. Is a community service project acceptable work for a Davidson Fellows scholarship?
No. At this time the Davidson Fellows categories for submission do not include community service projects. You may want to investigate the Presidential Freedom Scholarship or visit the scholarship website, www.FastWeb.com. Another web page you may want to visit is the USA Weekend - Make a Difference website if your project is volunteer work.

Q. What is the Outside the Box category for the Davidson Fellows scholarship?
The Outside the Box category is defined as a project that is university graduate level work or comparable, and completed with the supervision of an expert or experts.

Q. Is an athletic accomplishment acceptable work for a Davidson Fellows scholarship?
No. At this time the Davidson Fellows categories for submission do not include athletic accomplishments.

Q. Are dance, drama/performance art, photography, painting, film, fine arts or visual arts eligible to be considered for a Davidson Fellows scholarship?
No. At this time the Davidson Fellows Program categories for submission do not include dance, drama/performance art, film, photography, fine arts or visual arts. You may want to investigate the New York Foundation for the Arts free national database of funding sources for artists.

Q. If my work has already won national or state recognition in another competition, or has been published, may I still use it to apply for a Davidson Fellows scholarship?
Yes. In fact, you may want to mention previous awards or publications relating to your Davidson Fellows project as part of the Attachments content.


Q. Are two nominators required for 2016 applicants?
Yes, two different nominators are required. Family members may NOT serve as nominators


Q. What is the Davidson Fellows scholarship selection based upon?
The selection of Davidson Fellows is based on the following:

  • The scope and quality of the work submitted;
  • The level of significance of the work submitted, as deemed by experts in the domain area (or a related domain area);
  • The applicant’s depth of knowledge and understanding of the work and the related domain area.

Q. What is the selection process for Davidson Fellows scholarship recipients?
Each application is examined for completeness and accuracy. Qualified entries are sorted and evaluated by category and reviewed by an independent team of judges comprised of professionals with expertise in related domain areas. The judges may, at their sole discretion, consult with additional experts to assist in evaluating the merits of any of the submissions. Based on the criteria specified, the independent team of judges selects the most extraordinary applicants to be named Davidson Fellows and determines the level of scholarship to be awarded: $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000. All applicants are notified on or before July 15 each year.

Q. What is the Honorable Mention recognition?
The Davidson Fellows Honorable Mention is intended to recognize applicants who have displayed notable potential in their field of study and strongly encourage them to continue pursuing their efforts and talents. Not every applicant receives an Honorable Mention; they are featured on the Davidson Institute's website.

Scholarship Restrictions

Q. Are there restrictions on the Davidson Fellows scholarship?
Each scholarship may be used only for qualified tuition and related expenses, as defined in the Internal Revenue Code §117(b) and related regulations. The Davidson Institute shall determine the time and conditions of payment of scholarships at its sole discretion. The Davidson Institute may specify the documentation required to assure the Davidson Institute that the recipient is following an appropriate course of study. If the recipient withdraws from school or the recipient's progress is unsatisfactory, and the recipient makes no alternate arrangements to pursue courses at the same or another educational institution, then, at its sole discretion, the Davidson Institute may terminate the scholarship. Scholarship money will be available for 10 years from the date of the award. After 10 years, unused monies will be forfeited.

Q. Is the Davidson Fellows scholarship applicable at any school, college or university? Is there a list of certain schools that accept this award?
The Davidson Fellows scholarship must be used to further the recipient's education through attendance at an accredited institution of learning. The list of accredited institutions can be found at the Regional Accreditation Board based on the school's geographic area. The six regions are:

  • MSA-Middle States Association
  • NASC-Northwest Association of Schools & Colleges
  • NCA-North Central Association of Colleges & Schools
  • NEASC-New England Association of Schools & Colleges
  • SACS-Southern Association of Colleges & Schools
  • WASC-Western Association of Schools & Colleges

Q. Do scholarship recipients have to major in the same subject category in which they applied for the Davidson Fellows scholarship?
No. Applicants can major in any field of study.


Q. Is the Davidson Fellows scholarship Program offered annually?

Q. Can I apply for the Davidson Fellows scholarship more than once?
Applicants who are not named as Davidson Fellows may reapply, provided they meet the eligibility requirements and submit a different or expanded significant piece of work for judging. Individuals who have been named Davidson Fellows are not eligible to reapply.

Q. Is the Davidson Fellows scholarship part of the Davidson Young Scholars program?
No. The Davidson Young Scholars program and the Davidson Fellows scholarship are independent programs with different purposes and criteria for participation.

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