Guidelines for Academic Programs

Last update: January 12, 2022

The Royster Society of Fellows is the premier doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Membership to this interdisciplinary fellowship program is selective. Each year, doctoral programs nominate a limited number of students. An interdisciplinary committee of faculty from across campus reviews the competitive nominations.

The Royster Society of Fellows recruits talented prospective students from throughout the world for its five-year fellowships. A partnership between the fellow's graduate program and The Graduate School makes these fellowships possible. Additionally, doctoral students entering their final year of study are eligible to apply for a Royster Society of Fellows Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Consistent engagement in Royster activities is expected of its fellows. Activities include research seminars, professional development workshops, and social events. The intention of these activities is to allow fellows to learn from their colleagues. They also offer the opportunity for fellows to become acquainted with faculty from across disciplines. This professional and social networking is a benefit to fellows during their time at UNC-Chapel Hill and after graduation.

Nomination of Prospective Royster Fellows

  1. Programs may nominate applicants annually for the Royster SOF Fellowship through the Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship Process. Information can be found in the Recruitment Fellowships Guide. The Guide includes a summary of available funding opportunities, the nomination timeline, the scoring rubric used for selection, and a list of relevant resources for the program to consider when selecting their nominees and crafting their nomination statements.
  2. The review committee considers the following categories in their selection:
    1. Academic Success: The nominee has the potential to perform at the highest academic level as demonstrated by, but not limited to, their: 1) previous academic record at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate levels; 2) awards and honors achieved; 3) previous research experience, scholarship, or creative work and engagement in cross-disciplinary endeavors; 4) participation in experiential learning opportunities; and 5) other non-academic experiences that illustrate resiliency and creativity.
    2. Diversity: The nominee embodies attributes that expand and enhance the overall diversity (broadly defined) of the proposed academic program and the greater UNC-Chapel Hill community including, but not limited to, their: 1) background; 2) experience; and 3) viewpoints.
    3. Interdisciplinarity: The applicant has the potential to be a successful, contributing member of the Royster Society of Fellows as demonstrated through previous academic, professional, and/or personal experiences, including, but not limited to, their: 1) cross-disciplinary research endeavors; 2) leadership experience; 3) community- and service-based engagement; 4) participation on collaborative teams; and 5) mentoring experience.
    4. Program Support: The applicant's experience and research goals align with the research interests of the proposed academic program. The program has identified activities, programs, and structures to support the applicant's success in the program including, but not limited to: 1) professional development; 2) experiential learning; 3) community-building; and 4) mentors.

Supporting Current Royster Fellows

Programs should be familiar with Royster programming and support frequent attendance by fellows. Please make every effort to minimize scheduling conflicts when possible.

Programs should be supportive of the interdisciplinary mission of the Royster Society. Please encourage Royster fellows to build and nurture an interdisciplinary community. Fellows can also engage with the community by participating in other interdisciplinary activities. These activities include but are not limited to teaching a First-Year Seminar, volunteering with Stigma Free Carolina, or helping to plan the annual Royster Global conference.

Financial Planning and Fellowship Funding

  1. 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 non-service years (four 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 (six 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 non-service 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, health insurance, and fees are prorated by stipend source. The Graduate School provides tuition remission each year as necessary. Fellows are highly encouraged to apply for North Carolina residency as soon as possible.
    3. Summer support is provided through year four. Typically, the fifth and final year of the fellowship includes a higher fall/spring stipend rather than summer support in anticipation of the fellow’s graduation.
  4. When circumstances warrant, the typical pattern can be altered to better meet the fellow's individual 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 Graduate School as well as the fellow's advisor and director of graduate study (DGS). Changes 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, provided the total does not exceed the maximum permitted (currently $34,000).
  6. Royster SOF/support from The Graduate School 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 Graduate School’s Dissertation Completion Fellowship, and are encouraged to apply for external fellowships to support their dissertation research and writing.

Progress Assessment and Expectations

  1. The Royster SOF includes a comprehensive assessment process that is outlined in Fellows Benefits and Expectations.
  2. Following the end of each semester (August, December, May), the Royster SOF team will review each fellow’s grades. Fellows who earn a Low Pass or Incomplete on their record will be placed on conditional status and will work with the associate dean for professional development and funding, their advisor, and DGS to develop an action plan outlining how the fellow will address the grade(s). Fellows who successfully complete their action plan will return to active status.
  3. Fellows and their advisors will also complete an annual survey that will identify completed and pending milestones as well as provide a holistic view of the fellow’s progress. If needed, the fellow will meet with the Royster team to address any issues identified by the survey. Following a successful assessment, fellows will receive a continuation letter and an updated funding plan. The fellow's DGS, student service manager (SSM), and advisor will be copied.
  4. If the fellow has an F on their record and is academically ineligible to continue in their program, the Royster SOF Fellowship will be discontinued.
    1. See The Graduate School Handbook for information on program reinstatement.
    2. See the associate dean for professional development and funding for information on fellowship reinstatement.
  5. If the fellow has an Incomplete on their record, the Fellowship will be placed on conditional status, and an Action Plan to address the grade(s) will be developed in collaboration with the associate dean, the advisor and DGS.
    1. If the fellow meets the requirements of the action plan and has a Pass or High Pass grade entered within by the deadline, then they will proceed to next stage of comprehensive review process.
    2. See The Graduate School Handbook for more information regarding Incompletes.
  6. If the fellow received a Low Pass, the associate dean will set up a meeting to discuss the fellow’s semester and their plan for continued academic progress.
    1. Review The Graduate School Handbook for more information on the impact of Low Passes. Subsequent Low Passes will be addressed based on each individual situation.
  7. Inadequate academic progress or failure to meet the requirements of the action plan may be cause for discontinuation of the fellowship. A failing grade is also cause for discontinuation. Please be aware of the policies regarding grades and academic progress in The Graduate School Handbook.
  8. Ethics violations may also be cause for discontinuation of the fellowship, depending upon circumstances involved. Each situation will be reviewed individually with the fellow, the DGS, and advisor by the associate dean and The Graduate School dean and Royster professor, as appropriate.
  9. If the fellowship is discontinued due to inadequate progress or a failing grade, there is a process for possible reinstatement that allows the fellow to demonstrate evidence of subsequent high academic performance. Please consult with the associate dean on this process.
  10. Fellows should not hesitate to speak with their advisor, DGS, the associate dean for professional development and funding, or Royster professor if they experience any issues. Often, resources can be identified to work through and resolve various types of issues, and the Royster SOF team is here to support all fellows.

Interdisciplinary First Year Seminar Teaching Fellowship

Royster fellows have the unique opportunity to teach a First-Year Seminar (FYS). These courses are designed for incoming undergraduate students with no prior college experience.

  1. Fellows who are selected to teach a FYS will receive that semester's TA support from The Graduate School, rather than the program. The semester will count as one of the 10 semesters of support from The Graduate School.
  2. Each fellow may only teach one FYS course.
  3. Fellows must receive approval from their advisor, DGS and the Royster professor at least one academic year prior to semester the course will be taught.
  4. Additional details can be found on the FYS Policies and Procedures form.