Presidential Fellowships in Data Science

** The 2017-2018 Application Deadline is Monday, March 20, 2017**

With support from the Office of the President, the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and the Data Science Institute is offering fellowships for teams of graduate students to undertake collaborative research projects that leverage large data sets to advance knowledge in areas of high social impact.

Program Description 

The Presidential Fellowships in Data Science are designed to facilitate deep collaborations between students (and their advisors) from diverse areas who have defined a problem, or problem area that is related to Big Data, or Data Science, and that requires the application of their collective, diverse knowledge and expertise.  Projects often address large, complex problems, with significant social impact, while advancing the individual work of each fellow in a significant way.  Current projects supported through this program are exploring areas as diverse as the relationships between language and the acceptance of ideas, to improving the expressive movement of robots through sound, to using machine learning with social media to understand and prevent suicide.
Prospective fellows are ideally students in the research phase, whose dissertation work or final projects will benefit from deep collaboration with a student and faculty advisor from another discipline (e.g. science and humanities; engineering and education; social science and nursing; etc.).   Prospective fellows should work closely with one another in the development of a project proposal that draws upon and enhances the research of each individual student, while also contributing to the larger project. Students interested in seeking collaborators are highly encouraged to post their ideas on the Virtual Big Data Mixer blog.  This year we once again welcome proposals on all topics.  
In addition to the funding provided by the fellowship (details below), each cohort of fellows will be expected to participate in a series of workshops and training experiences related to collaboration, presenting research to diverse audiences, and interdisciplinary publishing.  Learning how to collaborate across broad disciplinary boundaries is a primary goal of the program, and students should expect to engage in activities that support this goal.  

Fellowship Details

Students must be enrolled full time in a graduate or professional program during the 2017-2018 academic year in order to accept the fellowship.  All students may apply, but preference will be given to students who are advanced enough in their programs to focus on a specific research project.
Each fellowship provides the following:
  • 12 month stipend of $28,000 (fellowships may begin over the summer of 2017, or in the fall)
  • Tuition and fees
  • Student health insurance subsidy  

Please note that the tuition and fees provided through the fellowship will likely not be sufficient to fully cover students who are still in the coursework phase.  Students who are still in the coursework phase, and thus whose tuition and fees will be higher than what is offered through the fellowship, are still eligible to apply, but must be aware that the fellowship will not cover the full amount of tuition and fees.  Prospective fellows who fit this description should discuss/prepare with their advisor and/or DGS, and plan accordingly.  Please also note that the figures provided here may be adjusted to cover any pending increases in research only tution rates for the 2016-2017 academic year.     

Proposal Submission Process

Proposal submission will occur through our internal proposal system at

Each team of prospective fellows should submit a single project proposal containing the following:

  • A research plan, no longer than three pages, single spaced (Times New Roman 12-point font, standard 1" margins), that includes a description of the project's novelty and how it will enhance each student's research goals
  • A two page C.V. or bio-sketch for each graduate student and for each graduate student's advisor
  • UVA transcripts for each graduate student (transcripts may be unofficial, printed from SIS)
  • A half-page, single-spaced statement (Times New Roman 12-point font, standard 1" margins) from each student on how the project will enhance her/his research and career objectives
  • A one-page (maximum) statement from each student's adviser that addresses her/his student's fit for the project, including the student's research qualifications, and evidence of her/his professionalism, and collaborative spirit
  • A one-page (maximum) statement from each of the student's adviser that details how the advisor will support the project, especially with his/her own time and attention, attendance at student presentations, etc.*


Final proposals must be submitted to the VPR Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs no later than Monday, March 20, and will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty.  Final decisions will be announced by April 1.


Beth Beal, Programs Administrator, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs:  243-4014,
Arlyn Burgess, Executive Coordinator, UVA Data Science Institute.  924-4262,
Phil Trella, Assistant Vice President for Research, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs.  243-2018,

*Experience indicates a strong correlation between the degree of faculty involvement, and the overall success of these collaborative projects.