Eligibility FAQ

A PDF version of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program FAQ is available here.

1.  I am applying to M.F.A. programs, should I take the GRE even if it is not required for my degree program?

This is tricky.  We would advise M.F.A. applicants to report GRE scores on the application. Many in the arts recommend that students applying for M.F.A. programs take the GREs so that they can compete for fellowships like this one.  Low GREs scores, however, could hurt the applicant.  As a rule, we waive the GRE requirement for applicants to MFA programs, but, in the end, these applicants might not be as competitive if other M.F.A. candidates have stellar GREs.  Another consideration is GPA and recommendations.  Recommenders should be aware if the applicant is not taking the GRE and account for this in the letter.  If the GPA is low, then great GREs would be a big boost.  Needless to say, low GPA (less than 3.6 or 3.7) plus no or low GREs would make acceptance difficult without recommendations that account for these deficiencies.  We do look at Math versus Verbal.  For example, an M.F.A. in creative writing with a high verbal and lower math might still be acceptable.  In the end, good GREs will always help, but low ones (500s) might hurt, and the effect of not taking them will depend on the competition.


2.  How important are GREs for this fellowship?

The GRE is extremely important for entering Graduate School, and therefore, since part of your competitiveness for this fellowship is the prospect that you will get into graduate school, the GRE is a very important consideration for this fellowship.


3.  I am applying for a Ph.D. in sports medicine; can I apply?

No, we only accept applications in humanities and the arts; you can see the list of typical humanities and arts programs we accept on the “Eligibility” web page for the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.


4.  I am applying to Ph.D. programs in sociology, anthropology, and political science; can I apply?

Potentially, yes.  We have taken Fellows in Political Science and these other fields when they have emphases that make them essentially humanities fields.  In the application essay, however, make clear that your interests are in the humanities components of these disciplines.


5.  I am applying to an M.Div., M.M., M.T.S. or M.A.R. program; can I apply for this fellowship?

No; we do not offer fellowships for professional degrees, even though sometimes they are prerequisites for entry into Ph.D. programs. This is because such programs typically do not involve the sort of professionalization that comes with a terminal degree (Ph.D., Th.D., MFA, D.M.A.) that leads to a career in teaching at a college or university. Please do consider applying for the fellowship after obtaining one of these degrees.


6.  I am applying to M.F.A., D.F.A., and D.M.A. programs; can I apply for this fellowship?

Absolutely.  Yes.


With regards to the M.F.A., increasingly, the Ph.D. in creative writing is required to teach at a college or university in creative writing, but because the M.F.A. is typically required for the Ph.D. in creative writing, we will continue to accept applicants to M.F.A. programs in creative writing, but preference will be giving to applicants who, in their application essay, explain their intention to pursue a Ph.D. in creative writing following the M.F.A.  Applicants who already have the M.F.A. and are applying to Ph.D. programs in creative writing are also welcome to apply for this fellowship.  At present, applicants for M.F.A. programs in theater are still accepted as before, though this policy might change next year.


7.  I am applying to a terminal M.A. program; can I apply for the fellowship?

You are eligible for this fellowship only if the terminal M.A. from that particular school is required for advancement to the Ph.D. at that institution.  (A case in which advancing from the M.A. to the Ph.D. is competitive).


8.  I earned an M.A. from a network school, but I received my B.A. from a non-network school.  Can I apply for the fellowship?

No, your Bachelor’s degree must be from a network school.


9.  I am already in an M.A. program; can I apply?

It depends on the particular Master’s program you are in and the Ph.D. program to which you apply.  If you are in a terminal M.A. and will apply to M.A./Ph.D. programs, even at the same school then you are eligible.  If, however, you are already in an M.A./Ph.D. program and would simply advance on to the Ph.D., then you are not eligible.


10.  I am applying to a Th.D. or S.T.D. program; can I apply for this fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet the other criteria.


11.  I plan to do graduate work at Oxford/Cambridge; can I apply?

No, at present, for logistical reasons, we are limiting our fellowships to graduate programs in North America.


12.  The school to which I am applying requires that I earn a Master’s Degree there and then compete for spots on the Ph.D. track; can I apply?



13.  I am already in an M.A. program at which I must compete for spots on the Ph.D. track; can I apply?

Yes, if you would start the Ph.D. program next fall (this is your last year in the Master’s program).


15.  I am also applying for a Fulbright and other similar fellowships, etc.; if selected for a Lilly Graduate Fellowship, may I defer for a year while I do a Fulbright?

There is a possibility we can allow for a one-year deferral, but the LFP decides this on a per case basis.  There is no guarantee we can do this.


16.  I am applying for an M.F.A./D.M.A./D.F.A. and I see that you want an electronic dossier; what should I include in my electronic dossier?

Non-specialists as well as specialists will view your dossier.  Be brief but show your best work on a CD or DVD.  You should also include a “Read Me First” document or cover page on the CD or DVD that provides some orientation and, if appropriate, background information for the material you include.  You should also talk to your academic advisor about what to include.


Noteworthy News

Lilly Network Office Closed

The Lilly Network office will be closed from Thursday, December 21-Wednesday, January 3 for the holiday break. Wishing you a joyous Christmas!

November Lilly Network Update

The Current Lilly Network Update for November 2023 is now available. Click here.

Announcing the winner of the 2023 Lilly Network Book Award

The Lilly Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities is pleased to announce Willie James Jennings' After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging as its 2023 Book Award Winner. For more information and to see a complete list of finalists, click here.

Call for applications for the 2024-2026 Cohort of the Lilly Faculty Fellows Program

Applications for the 2024-2026 Cohort of the Lilly Faculty Fellows Program for mid-career faculty are due November 15. For more information and to apply, click here.

Lilly Network of Church- Related Colleges and Universities

If you are interested in learning more about membership in the Lilly Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities, please contact us here.

New edition of Leading Lives that Matter released

In their second edition of Leading Lives That Matter, editors Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass compile a wide range of texts—from ancient and contemporary literature, social commentary, and philosophy—related to questions of vital interest for those who are trying to decide what to do with their lives and what kind of human beings they hope to become. Leading Lives that Matter has been an important text in many of our fellowship and grant programs, and it contains excellent resources. Click here for more information and an excerpt.