Nyswander–Blanchard Pre-Dissertation Fellowship

The Nyswander–Blanchard Pre-Dissertation Fellowships support tribal college and university (TCU) faculty who have been admitted to or are enrolled in a doctoral degree program. This fellowship provides awards of $3,000 to $10,000 over one year. Faculty must be in the coursework phase of their doctoral studies (typically the first three years).

The program was established in 2012 with support and funding from College Fund Board Member Kim Blanchard and the Nyswander–Manson family. The aim of the program is to increase the number of TCU faculty members with a doctorate, thus supporting faculty members’ own educational goals, strengthening TCU academic programs, and cultivating TCU and community leaders.

Fellowship funding must be used to cover expenses associated with degree attainment such as tuition, fees, and books. Other eligible expenses include research support (e.g., data collection and analysis), software, periodicals, and travel required to conduct research.


Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a faculty member at an accredited TCU that is a “regular” member of AIHEC. For fellowships, the definition of faculty member includes full-time faculty members, as well as adjunct instructors (including TCU staff and administrators) who teach at least one course regularly. Please note that priority is given to full-time faculty members and long-time adjunct instructors who regularly teach more than one course.
  • Be admitted to or enrolled in an accredited PhD, EdD, or other doctoral program.
  • Be in the coursework phase of their doctoral studies. This is typically the first three years of a doctoral program. (Faculty who are, or will be “all but dissertation” by the fellowship start date, should apply for a doctoral dissertation fellowship.) The Nyswander-Blanchard Fellowship is also appropriate for faculty members in doctoral programs that integrate the dissertation throughout the curriculum. Contact the Faculty Development Program Officer for more information. 
  • Have demonstrated their commitment to American Indian/Alaska Native students and tribal college education.
  • Agree to continue teaching at a TCU for at least one (1) year following the completion of the fellowship.


Applicants must submit the following documents and information to receive full consideration during the committee review process:

  • Application
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Personal statement
  • Fellowship activity plan that includes a list of courses you will take each semester/quarter and, if applicable, a description of other degree-related activities that will be completed during the one-year fellowship
  • Itemized budget broken down by semester/quarter
  • Unofficial copy of graduate school transcripts (if already taking classes) or letter of admission (if you have not begun doctoral program)
  • Two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a faculty member of your graduate program or an academic mentor, and a second letter must be from a TCU administrator (president, academic dean, or your department chair).


  • Agree to continue teaching at a TCU for at least one (1) year after completion of the fellowship.
  • Agree to allow the College Fund access to your enrollment and degree attainment information through the National Student Clearinghouse database.
  • Maintain regular contact with the College Fund’s Faculty Development Program Officer for the one (1) year during and one (1) year after completion of the fellowship.


Fellowship applications are evaluated and ranked by scholars from a variety of academic disciplines. The reviewers evaluate applications using the following criteria:

  • Strong academic record and competence
  • Capability of applicant to complete a doctoral degree
  • Potential of applicant’s doctoral achievement and their research to strengthen the following at their TCU: instruction, incorporation of tribal culture and language into curriculum, program development, research, and/or leadership
  • Demonstrated commitment of applicant to American Indian/Alaska Native higher education and TCU scholarship, and plans for continued contributions
  • Level of engagement with the TCU (e.g., length of time teaching, number of courses taught, future plans)
  • Level of support from TCU administrator and graduate program faculty member/academic mentor
  • Demonstrated respectful engagement with students and the tribal communities served by the TCU


The spring 2024 application window is now open for fellowships that will begin in the summer or fall of 2024. We are accepting applications through 4:00 pm PT on Friday, March 29, 2024. All application materials must be uploaded by that time, including your recommendation letters. 

If your doctoral program is in a STEM field, you may be able to apply early and receive an early review. Please contact Heidi Normandin for more information. 

Click on the link below to be taken to our application portal. After creating an account (or logging in to your existing account), you will find further information about each required document and instructions for the people writing your recommendation letters. 

If you have any questions or technical difficulties, contact Heidi Normandin, Faculty Development Program Officer, at hnormandin@collegefund.org.