Graduate School Fellowship Application Review Timeline

Current and prospective UWM graduate students interested in the Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship (AOPF) should note the following timeline for 2024-2025 AOPF awards. Please continue to check this page for any updates or changes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023The UWM Graduate School Fellowship application system opens and will receive applications for consideration of a 2024-25 AOPF award. Please see requirements for submission below.
Friday, December 1, 2023 – Friday, January 5, 2024**PROGRAM APPLICATION SUBMISSION DEADLINES VARY
All applicants must contact their Graduate Program Representative to confirm their graduate program’s internal deadline.
AOPF 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.
Applicants should contact their graduate program for the program’s letters of recommendation deadline.
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.
Graduate programs’ deadline to award UWM Graduate School admission to any external fellowship nominees, for the 2024-2025 academic year.
Late March 2024Announcement of all 2024-25 UWM Graduate School Fellowship awards.
Monday, April 15, 2024Deadline for all UWM Graduate School Fellowship recipients to accept any UWM Graduate School fellowship offer, per the Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution. 

About the Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship

The Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship (AOPF) is provided to the UWM Graduate School by the University of Wisconsin System and funded by the State of Wisconsin. The AOPF 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 UWM. Awards are granted to newly admitted or currently enrolled UWM graduate students. Prospective graduate students may apply for the AOPF, though each program determines internal eligibility for nomination to committee review. The AOPF 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) AOPFs 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 AOPF must be United States citizens or permanent residents. Applicants shall be considered in their entirety and reviewed individually, and no applicant shall receive an AOPF 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. Disadvantaged non-minority:
    •  First-generation college student with high financial need as evidenced by a current FAFSA**
    •  Recipient of childhood public assistance (please explain current eligibility for AOPF in application)
    •  Otherwise disadvantaged (please explain current eligibility for AOP in application)
  3. 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)

*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 AOPF eligibility.
**Applicants identifying eligibility for the AOPF 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 AOPF eligibility.

The 2024-2025 AOPF stipend for recipients in a master’s program is $16,000 and for recipients in a doctoral-level program, the academic year stipend is $18,000. In addition, AOPF 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 AOPF recipient and are due at the start of each enrollment term.

AOPF are renewable for a maximum of two academic years (or four AOPF-funded semesters total) for master’s students and three academic years (a maximum of six AOPF-funded semesters) for PhD and MFA students. AOPF Renewals are contingent on meeting program requirements and level of academic progress toward degree as identified 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 Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship, please email

AOPF 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 AOPF 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 AOPF Selection Committee in evaluating nominated AOPF 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:

  • 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 their graduate field of study and professional workforce.
  • The applicant’s scholarly and professional accomplishments.
  • Any pertinent details that distinguish this student from other applicants.

Letters of recommendation should be on letterhead, no more than two 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.

Instructions for Graduate Programs

Funding is very limited and Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowships are extremely competitive. Therefore, graduate programs are asked to be highly selective in nominating no more than three students for an AOPF. Nominees should represent exceptional and academically excellent 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 AOPF. After submitting nomination materials, please notify all your program’s AOPF 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 AOPF nominees must 1) have a completed application on file with the UWM Graduate School and 2) be formally admitted to your graduate program providing nomination no later than Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

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 five 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 37.5% 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.