Guidelines for Academic Programs

Last update: July 27, 2016

The Royster Society of Fellows (RSOF) is the flagship interdisciplinary fellowship program of The Graduate School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A small group of new doctoral students is offered membership each year. Graduate faculty selects them from among top applicants nominated by all doctoral programs across the University. Designated fellows join a long tradition of highly achieving graduate students who attain excellence in their academic graduate programs and success in their professional careers.

The five-year fellowships constitute a partnership among each individual fellow, the fellow's graduate program and the RSOF. There are also named, one-academic-year dissertation fellowships within the RSOF for which currently enrolled doctoral students are nominated and selected each year.

Fellows are expected to engage in monthly research seminars, professional development meetings and special Graduate School events. These are opportunities for fellows to learn from colleagues, become acquainted with faculty from many disciplines and build professional and social networks that can last a lifetime. Fellows have the opportunity to learn about and participate in activities that will broaden their perspectives and develop their leadership and career skills.

Nomination of Prospective Royster Fellows

  1. Information about the nomination of prospective Royster Fellows can be found in the Fellowship and Funding Handbook. The Handbook includes tips for writing a successful nomination statement. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the Fellowship and Funding Manager or Associate Dean Hoeflich.
  2. Quantitative Indicators: The review committee does look at quantitative indicators (GRE, GPA, etc.). It is up to the program to provide context for interpreting these indicators.
  3. Qualitative Indicators: Be sure to provide substantial, detailed qualitative information for candidates, including fit within the program, personal history/qualities and diversity. Please remember that diversity is broadly defined, and it is the responsibility of the program to justify how the nominee qualifies. The review committee will not automatically accept every explanation of diversity.

Current Royster Fellows

  1. Programs should be familiar with the Royster Calendar and support attendance by fellows. This includes minimizing schedule conflicts for Roysters where possible (i.e. Royster Orientation and Graduation).
  2. Programs should support the mission of the Royster Society of Fellows where possible and encourage fellows in their efforts to build and nurture an interdisciplinary community. This includes encouraging and supporting their participation in activities such as the Interdisciplinary First Year Seminar Teaching Fellowship, StigmaFreeCarolina, mentoring programs, etc.

Financial Planning and Fellowship Funding

  1. Remember that the Royster Fellowship is a commitment to each Fellow to provide the appropriate funding each semester of the fellowship. Fellowship details will vary from student to student, but the program must abide by this commitment to support the Fellow during the five-year period.
  2. Please be sure to review the funding plans for your Royster fellows at least annually. Understand that changes are often made throughout the year and will require coordination and approval.
  3. A sample funding planpdf icon is as follows:
    1. During two nonservice years (4 semesters) – normally, the first and last years – The Graduate School provides full support (stipend, tuition, health insurance and fees). Fellows may also receive supplemental nonservice stipends and/or summer supplemental funding from the program or external sources, as long as their total funding does not exceed certain limits.
    2. During three service years (6 semesters) – normally, the second through fourth years – the program provides a base TA/RA/ Fellow/Trainee stipend (at the currently required minimum level) and The Graduate School provides an additional stipend set at the time the Fellow entered the program. The base during these years may also come from external fellowships in certain cases. In-state tuition and health insurance are prorated by stipend source, and The Graduate School provides out-of-state tuition and fees every year.
  4. When circumstances warrant, this pattern can be altered to better meet the Fellow's individual academic needs. It is expected that furtherance of the Fellow's educational objectives, and not service to the program, will govern these funding plan changes. Funding plan changes require the agreement of the Fellow's advisor, DGS, and Associate Dean Hoeflich, and must be approved at least 30 days prior to the start of the semester.
  5. The program is permitted to increase a Fellow's base stipend at any time so that the total does not exceed the maximum permitted (currently $34,000).
  6. Royster Society/Graduate School support is limited to 10 semesters or five years based on the funding plan at the time the Fellow entered the program. Royster Five-Year Fellows are not permitted to apply for the Dissertation Completion Fellowship.
  7. Please remember to encourage your Fellows to apply for in-state residency for tuition purposes if they are eligible. This helps our limited funding support more graduate fellows.

Annual Assessment / Expectations

  1. At the end of each academic year, the Fellow, his/her advisor (if applicable), and the DGS will be asked to report on the Fellow's academic performance and progress, including grades and incompletes, courses and degree program benchmarks, papers written and/or published, presentations, courses taught, service to the discipline/university/community, etc. Our expectation is that Fellows achieve at the highest academic level and are among the most successful graduate students within the University.
  2. Each situation will be reviewed individually by the associate dean with you and your graduate program director of graduate studies and advisor, the graduate dean, and Royster professor, as needed. Following a successful assessment, the Fellow will receive a continuation letter and an updated funding plan, if necessary.
  3. A "low pass" grade or similar low performance may be cause for discontinuation of the fellowship, unless there are mitigating circumstances. One or more grades of "incomplete" or failure to pass an expected milestone examination in the program may be cause for discontinuation, depending upon the circumstances. If the fellowship is discontinued due to performance problems, there is a process for possible reinstatement of the fellowship that allows the Fellow to demonstrate evidence of subsequent high academic performance
  4. Ethics violations and similar are cause for discontinuation of your fellowship, depending upon circumstances involved.

Interdisciplinary First Year Seminar Teaching Fellowship

  1. Fellows who participate in the "Interdisciplinary First Year Teaching Fellowship" will receive that semester's TA support from The Graduate School, rather than the program. This WILL count as one of the 10-semesters of support from the Graduate School in lieu of one of your service semesters otherwise funded by your program.
  2. Each fellow may only teach one interdisciplinary course (current limit, may change over time).
  3. Fellows must obtain support from the program and the Royster Professor prior to participating the in the Interdisciplinary FYS Teaching Fellowship by completing the Approval Form. It is understood by both the fellow and the program that a signed Approval Form commits the Fellow to the program for the designated semester.