Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship Guidelines

2020-21 Fellowships

  • Fellowship Applicants: Submission deadlines vary by program. Contact your graduate representative for your internal application deadline.
  • Graduate Program Representatives: Submit your program’s nominations to the Graduate School by 4:30 p.m. (CST) on February 5, 2020.

Description of Award

The Advanced Opportunity Program (AOP) Fellowship is funded by the State of Wisconsin. AOP Fellowships are designed to assist underrepresented racial/ethnic minority and disadvantaged non-minority students in graduate study to enter and complete a graduate degree at UWM. Awards are granted to newly admitted or currently enrolled UWM graduate students.

Approximately 30 academic-year (Fall/Spring) AOP Fellowships are awarded annually to qualified graduate students. Awards are for full-time study only. The current AOP Fellowship stipend is $15,000. In addition, AOP Fellowship recipients benefit from full coverage of resident tuition, a remission of the out-of-state portion of the tuition (if applicable), low-cost comprehensive health benefits, and a $1,000 travel award. Awardees retain full responsibility for segregated fees and additional instructional/course fees (including distance education) above basic graduate tuition levels. These fees are due at the start of each enrollment term and are to be paid by the AOP Fellowship recipient.


Awards should be limited to members of the traditionally underrepresented minority groups. AOP Fellowship applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  1. Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Minority:
    • African-American or Black
    • Hispanic/Latino/a/x
    • American Indian
    • Alaskan Native
    • Statutorily defined Southeast Asian (Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese, or Cambodian)
  2. TRIO Participant and/or Disadvantaged Non-Minority Student:
    • Participant of The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program
    • Participant of a TRIO or TRIO-like Pre-College Program (Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services, GEAR UP, Project 1000)
    • First-generation college student with high financial need as evidence by a current and completed FAFSA*
    • Recipient of public assistance
    • Otherwise disadvantaged (must explain in application)
*Applicants identifying eligibility for the AOP Fellowship as “First-generation college student with high financial need as evidenced by a current and completed FAFSA” must have a current and completed FAFSA on file with the UW-Milwaukee Financial Aid Office. This FAFSA will be reviewed by Financial Aid for AOP Fellowship eligibility. All information will be kept confidential.

AOP Fellowship nominees/awardees must maintain a 3.0 GPA and make reasonable progress toward their degree. AOP Fellowship nominees/awardees cannot be on academic probation and cannot have engaged in academic or non-academic misconduct during their current graduate program, based on transcript notations at the time of nomination/award. If the AOP Fellowship nominee/awardee becomes ineligible, the graduate AOP Fellowship award/offer is forfeited, effective the date that the sanctions are implemented.

Applicants shall be considered in their entirety and reviewed individually, and no applicant shall receive a AOP Fellowship simply because they fulfill one or more of the above-listed classifications.


AOP Fellowships are renewable for up to two years for Master’s students and three years for PhD students and students enrolled in MFA programs. Renewal is contingent on meeting course and program requirements and level of academic progress toward degree as determined by each fellow’s advisor. No student may qualify for more than three years of combined support in their master’s and doctoral studies.

Concurrent Employment

The AOP Fellowship is meant to provide recipients with the opportunity to fund their education without the constraints of working while attending graduate school. Concurrent employment of AOP Fellowship recipients is limited to the following:
  • University TA, PA, or RA of a maximum of 25%.
  • Student hourly or outside employment of up to 10 hours per week.

Selection Criteria

AOP Fellowships are awarded on the basis of the following factors:
  1. Grade point average.
  2. Academic and career goals.
  3. Potential to contribute diversity to field of graduate study.
  4. Scholarly or creative achievement
  5. Departmental assessments of academic strength..
  6. Letters of recommendation.

Graduate Program Nomination Instructions

Because funding is very limited and AOP Fellowships are extremely competitive, graduate programs are asked to be highly selective in nominating no more than three (3) students for an AOP Fellowship. (Programs may nominate an additional student for an R1AOP Fellowship.) Nominees should represent exceptional students in your graduate program.

View rubric for the AOP Fellowship (PDF)
  • Both the students’ applications and your program’s nominations are submitted entirely online.
No more than three (3) nominees from your graduate program may be forwarded for the AOP Fellowship Competition.
  1. Verify all information submitted by each nominee:
    • The application should be filled out completely. To see what information is requested of students, see Required Application Information.
    • Two letters of recommendation.
  2. After the applicant’s information has been verified: Use the online application to submit a summary statement explaining why the nominee is a good candidate for the AOP Fellowship Award.
Only students with all completed answers and documents will be considered nominated.

Program nominations for the 2020-21 award year must be submitted online no later than 4:30PM (CST) February 5, 2020. THIS IS THE DEADLINE DATE AND TIME. No nominations will be accepted after 4:30PM on this date.

Application Status

In most cases, your nominees will be currently enrolled or newly admitted graduate students. If you are nominating a student who has not yet been admitted into your graduate program, please note the following:
  • AOP Fellowship applicants must have a completed application on file in the Graduate School.
  • AOP Fellowship nominees who are not formally admitted into your graduate program at the time of nomination for the 2020-21 award year MUST BE FORMALLY ADMITTED BY mid-February 2020 (specific date forthcoming) in time for the final AOP Fellowship selection committee meeting.
After submitting nomination materials, please notify all of your program’s AOP Fellowship applicants (non-nominated as well as nominated) of the status of their applications. This is your program’s responsibility.

AOP Fellowships are awarded by the AOP Fellowship Selection Committee. All nominated applicants will receive written notification from the Graduate School concerning the decision of their application.

Important Dates

October 17, 2019 Application opens online
February 5, 2020 Graduate program nominations due to the Graduate School by 4:30pm (CST)
March 2020 Announcement of awards
April 15, 2020 Deadline to accept any awarded AOP Fellowship

For questions regarding any of these procedures, please contact the Office of Graduate Diversity & Inclusion (414-229-2768,