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Davidson Fellows Scholarship: 7 Reasons Why You Should Apply

If you are looking for a program that offers significant financial support and prestige while enabling you to create a large-scale impact, then the Davidson Fellows Scholarship is absolutely perfect for you!

What is the Davidson Fellows Scholarship (DFS)?

Established by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, the Davidson Fellows Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship program that offers exceptional young individuals the opportunity to receive merit-based scholarships (of up to $50,000) for their extraordinary academic achievements.

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship program recognizes and uplifts gifted students who have made significant contributions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music, philosophy, and “out-of-the-box” for all topics not in these fields. This merit-based scholarship not only lessens the financial burden for these remarkable individuals for their future but also helps garner international recognition for their outstanding accomplishments. The Davidson Fellows Scholarship serves as a launchpad for students to continue pursuing their passions and act on their exceptional talents.

In addition to the financial incentives, the Davidson Fellows Scholarship program provides its recipients with a variety of invaluable networking and mentorship opportunities. By connecting with like-minded peers and accomplished professionals in their fields, these scholars gain access to a wealth of knowledge and resources that foster their growth and development. Many alumni have become talented researchers, musicians, and industry innovators, further solidifying the program's status for excellence, prestige, and talent.

Who is Eligible to Participate in the Davidson Fellows Scholarship?

Compared to many other fellowships that Lumiere has covered, this program is much more limited and exclusive. While anyone 18 years old and younger can participate, the Davidson Fellows Scholarship are looking for projects that are of an extremely high level – “students whose projects are at, or close to, the college graduate level with a depth of knowledge in their particular area of study,” which may not be accessible to all.

However, if you believe that you have completed a piece of work that is of this caliber, you should apply! There is no application fee and only consists of an application that is similar to a college application. For each different field listed, there is a slightly different application – check out this link to see what your topic could fall under.

Lastly, you may participate in teams of up to two people, and both members must be US citizens or US permanent residents, thus international students are not allowed to participate in DFS.

Timeline and Structure of the Davidson Fellows Scholarship

The application process is the same year after year, thus check out the link we listed above to see what your application will look like. Every year, the deadline will fall around early-to-middle February, thus you may begin your application at any time, but remember to submit and prepare all documents by February! The application typically consists of a series of essays that have you explain your project, why you chose your project, and why you are passionate about this topic – a mix between personal and academic. There are no other aspects to the process besides this singular application, so be sure to put your full effort forward to show yourself in the most positive light. Review this link to see their short rubric, and this link to see the list of topics with their different applications.

For example, for a science-based application, you will need to submit the full research paper of your scientific research, a visual representation of your research (such as a poster board that would be presented at a conference), a process essay, a “significance and benefit to society” essay, and a 10-minute video showing off your research. Very extensive application

If you are chosen as a recipient of the Davidson Fellows Scholarship, you also MUST participate in the award ceremony held in Washington D.C. in September, where traveling and lodging is covered by the Davidson Institute.

Why Should You Participate in the Davidson Fellows Scholarship?

1. Significant financial support

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship offers scholarships of up to $50,000. This can be used to cover future tuition fees and other costs for your academic career. This significant financial scholarship can help you to focus on your academics and research, and lessen the financial burden associated with a college degree.

2. Prestigious recognition

Being a Davidson Fellow is an honor that sets recipients apart from their peers, as it signifies exceptional talent and dedication in their respective fields. This distinction can open doors to further college and professional opportunities, and continue setting you on a path towards success.

3. Great networking opportunities

Davidson Fellows gain access to a community of like-minded individuals, as well as established professionals in various disciplines. This network serves as an invaluable resource for personal and professional growth, offering guidance, mentorship, and potential collaboration opportunities. Outside of mentors, you will also meet your fellow peers, who are just as outstanding and passionate as you are, setting forth a bond that could fuel you to work harder and have a group of people around you who understand what you are going through, better than peers who have not devoted so much time and effort towards a passion.

4. Encouragement for passion projects

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship encourages all students to pursue significant projects in their areas of interest, such as the topics we have listed above. By engaging in these in-depth projects, you can develop your skills, knowledge, and passion for your chosen field, fostering a strong foundation for future academic and professional success, with a reward as an incentive.

5. Personal growth and development

The process of applying for the Davidson Fellows Scholarship challenges you to reflect on your passions, goals, and achievements. This introspective exercise helps you gain a deeper understanding of their strengths, aspirations, and areas for improvement. The lengthy application process encourages you to practice your personal expression, communication, and presentation skills. The application for DFS can be an excellent gateway to your future college application, as the same introspection and passion that you show to the Institute, must also be shown to your future college admissions counselors.

6. Increased visibility

Davidson Fellows are often featured in local, regional, and national media, which can increase their visibility within your fields and beyond. This exposure can lead to new opportunities for collaboration, career advancement, and further recognition of your already amazing accomplishments.

7. Giving back to the community

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship emphasizes the importance of using one's talents and achievements for the betterment of society. This instilled sense of belonging with your community and the world around you can encourage you to continue working towards your goals and connect with the people around you – the ones that you are doing this research for, to hopefully improve their lives somehow, someway in the future.

If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!

Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 

The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas.

The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 

The fields include technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism and more.

You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 

Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!

Additionally, you can also work on independent research in AI, through Veritas AI's Fellowship Program!

Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. 

These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 

The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here

Location: Virtual


  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

  • Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here

Application deadline: On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit past experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 


Conducting advanced research is another great way to build new skills, take charge and expose yourself to new perspectives. It can also boost your profile for scholarships and competitions! If you want an opportunity to build your own independent project and research paper, then consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program. Last year over 2100 students applied for about 500 spots in the program. You can find the application form here.

Aaron Zheng is a sophomore at Harvard University, studying Bioengineering. He is passionate about biotechnology, business development, and aiding students to get to college, regardless of background. In his spare time, he looks to read, journal, and explore the world.

Image source: Davidson Fellows Scholarship program



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