Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship Guidelines

Graduate School Fellowship Application Review Timeline

The UWM Graduate School’s Fellowships competition has closed, and applications are no longer being accepted for the 2023-24 AOP Fellowship.

This page will be updated by August 1, 2023, to announce the release of the application for the 2024-25 AOP Fellowship. In the meantime, current and prospective UWM graduate students interested in the AOP Fellowship should note the following anticipated timeline for the next AOP Fellowship competition. All dates noted below are to be confirmed (TBC) until August 1, 2023.

Mid-October 2023 (TBC) The UWM Graduate School Fellowship application system opens and will receive applications for consideration of a 2024-25 AOP Fellowship award. Please see requirements for submission below.
December 2023 (TBC) AOP Fellowship applications are due and must be marked as “complete” within the app system prior to the graduate program’s internal deadline. No exceptions will be made.
Letters of recommendation must be uploaded directly by the recommender prior to the graduate program’s internal deadline.
All applicants must contact their Graduate Program Representative to confirm their graduate program’s internal deadline.
Early January 2024 (TBC) Deadline for graduate programs to complete required evaluations of nominated applicants.
All fellowship nominations must be submitted in the app system by the graduate program representative before the deadline.
Mid-January 2024 (TBC) Graduate programs’ deadline to admit fellowship nominees to the Graduate School for the award year.
Tuesday, February 28, 2024 (TBC) Announcement of the 2024-25 AOP Fellowship and all other UWM Graduate School Fellowship awards.
Monday, April 15, 2024 Deadline for all UWM Graduate School Fellowship recipients to accept any UWM Graduate School fellowship offer, per the Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution.

AOP Fellowship Guidelines

The Advanced Opportunity Program (AOP) Fellowship is funded by the State of Wisconsin. AOP Fellowships are designed to assist underrepresented racial/ethnic minority as well as disadvantaged non-minority students in graduate study to enter and complete a graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). Awards are granted to newly admitted or currently enrolled UWM graduate students. Prospective graduate students may apply for the AOP Fellowship, though each program determines internal eligibility for nomination to committee review. The AOP Fellowship is meant to provide recipients with the opportunity to fund their education without the constraints of working while attending graduate school.

Approximately 30 academic-year (Fall/Spring) AOP Fellowships are awarded annually to qualified graduate students. Awards are for full-time study only. Awards should be limited to members of racial/ethnic minority groups traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and other non-minority disadvantaged graduate students. Nominees for the AOP Fellowship must be United States citizens or Permanent Residents. Applicants shall be considered in their entirety and reviewed individually, and no applicant shall receive an AOP Fellowship simply because they fulfil one or more of the listed eligible classifications.

  1. Underrepresented racial/ethnic minority:
    •   African American
    •   American Indian
    •   Alaskan Native
    •   Black
    •   Hispanic
    •   Latino/a/x
    •   Statutorily defined Southeast Asian (Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese, or Cambodian)
  2. TRIO or TRIO-like pre-college program participant:
    •   Alumni or participant of The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program*
    •   Alumni of a TRIO/TRIO-like Pre-College Program (Upward Bound, Student Support Services, GEAR UP)
  3. Disadvantaged non-minority:
    •   First-generation college student with high financial need as evidenced by a current and completed FAFSA**
    •   Recipient of childhood public assistance (must explain current eligibility for AOP in application)
    •   Otherwise disadvantaged (must explain current eligibility for AOP in application)

*Applicants identifying eligibility for the AOP Fellowship as “Participant of The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program” must have a signed and completed COE McNair Fee Waiver on file with the UWM Graduate School. This fee waiver will be reviewed to confirm AOP Fellowship eligibility.
**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 UWM Financial Aid Office. This FAFSA will be reviewed by Financial Aid for AOP Fellowship eligibility.

The AOP Fellowship 2023-2024 academic-year stipend is $16,000 for recipients in a master’s program and $18,000 for recipients in a doctoral-level program. 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 to be paid by the AOP Fellowship recipient and are due at the start of each enrollment term.

AOP Fellowships are renewable for a maximum of two academic years (or four AOP-funded semesters total) for Master’s students and three academic years (a maximum of six AOP-funded semesters) for PhD and MFA students. 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 (six semesters) of combined support in their master’s and doctoral studies. For questions regarding the AOP Fellowship, please email

AOP Fellowship Application Requirements

  1. Contact information and identification
  2. Residency
  3. Academic history details and transcripts
  4. UWM graduate program information
  5. Eligibility selection
  6. Personal statement prompts:
    1. Statement of academic and career goals
    2. Contribution to diversity in higher education
    3. Scholarly and creative accomplishments
  7. Two letters of recommendation

Submission & Selection Process

The applicant’s complete AOP Fellowship application, including the two letters of recommendation, must be submitted by the graduate program’s internal deadline. Contact your graduate program representative for internal application deadlines.

Following the internal application deadline, each program evaluates all applications received, selects applicants for nomination, completes all nomination procedures, and forwards nominations to the formal competition. The Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship Selection Committee reviews nominations and selects recipients based on application requirements and departmental assessment, through use of the AOP Fellowship Application Rubric.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation assist the AOP Fellowship Selection Committee in evaluating nominated AOP Fellowship applications. A strong letter of recommendation will 1) highlight the strengths and exceptional qualities of the applicant; 2) demonstrate how the applicant stands out from others in their field of study; 3) elaborate on special achievements of the applicant or the potential for such; and 4) evaluate the applicant’s scholarly impact, capacity, potential, and/or productivity in their field of study.

Please make sure to contextualize the applicant’s scholarly impact with their graduate program and field, keeping in mind that reviewers will come from a variety of disciplines and will vary in familiarity with the applicant’s discipline. Letters of recommendation should focus on the following:

  • An understanding of the student’s academic background
  • The applicant’s career goals
  • The applicant’s relevant professional experiences
  • The applicant’s potential to contribute to diversity within their graduate field of study
  • The applicant’s scholarly accomplishments
  • Any pertinent details that distinguish this student from other applicants.

Letters of recommendation should be on letterhead, no more than 2 pages in length, and submitted in a PDF format. All recommenders will receive a link to submit their recommendation letter once the fellowship applicant has completed their portion of the fellowship application. Letter writers will not receive a link to upload the recommendation letter until the applicant submits their portion of the application. Please check with the applicant for the specific letter of recommendation deadline, as all letters must be submitted by that date for the fellowship application to be considered complete and eligible for graduate program nomination review.

Nominations Instructions for Graduate Program Reps

Funding is very limited and AOP Fellowships are extremely competitive. Therefore graduate programs are asked to be highly selective in nominating no more than three (3) students for an AOP Fellowship. Nominees should represent exceptional students in your graduate program. Only students with all completed answers and documents will be considered nominated. Please verify all information in the application submitted by each nominee, confirming application status as complete with two letters of recommendation.

After the applicant’s information has been verified, use the online application to submit a summary statement detailing why the nominee is a strong candidate for the AOP Fellowship.

Program nominations for the 2023-24 award year must be submitted online no later than 4:30 p.m. (CST) January 17, 2023. No nominations will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. on this date. THIS IS THE DEADLINE DATE AND TIME.

After submitting nomination materials, please notify all of your program’s AOP Fellowship applicants (non-nominated as well as nominated) regarding the status of their fellowship application.

In many cases, your nominees will be currently enrolled or newly admitted UWM graduate students. If you are nominating a prospective graduate student who has not yet been admitted into your graduate program, please be aware that all AOP Fellowship nominees must 1) have a completed application on file with the UWM Graduate School and 2) be formally admitted to the graduate program providing nomination no later than Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

UWM Graduate School Fellowship Compliance

All fellowship recipients must be enrolled in a graduate degree program at UWM during the award period. Fellows must meet the Graduate School continuation requirements each semester and comply with the following UWM Graduate Faculty Committee regulations:

  1. Fellowship nominees/awardees must maintain a 3.0 GPA and make reasonable progress toward their UWM graduate degree. 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 fellowship nominees/awardees become ineligible, the graduate fellowship award/offer is forfeited, effective the date that the sanctions are implemented.
  2. Fellowship recipients must carry and complete a full load of 8-12 graduate credits each semester during the academic year and a minimum of 5 graduate credits if the fellowship is held during the summer session.
  3. Doctoral candidates who have attained dissertator status must carry three dissertator credits per semester. Doctoral students who are in preliminary status must carry one research credit during their prelim semester.
  4. Fellowship recipients may not hold any other external or internal fellowship or scholarship concurrently with a Graduate School award, except for small monetary awards under $10,000; the UWM Chancellor’s Graduate Student Award; or a philanthropic award.
  5. Fellowship recipients may not accept full-time employment. University appointments (maximum of 25% TA, PA, or RA), or other student outside employment of up to 15 hours per week, are allowable.

Note: Fellowships are factored in determining eligibility for federal student aid. Please know that a fellowship stipend and tuition waiver may significantly reduce a student’s financial aid loan eligibility.