In academia, a fellow is a member of a group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of mutual knowledge or practice. Fellows may include visiting professors, postdoctoral researchers and doctoral researchers. It may also indicate an individual recipient of a graduate-level merit-based form of funding akin to a scholarship.
The title of (senior) research fellow is used to denote an academic research position at a university or a similar institution and is roughly equivalent to the title of (senior) lecturer in the teaching career pathway. Research fellow is also used to refer to the holder of a research fellowship. These are often shortened to the name of the programme or organisation, e.g. Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow rather than Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow, except where this might cause confusion with another fellowship, e.g. Royal Society Research Fellows (not to be confused with Fellows of the Royal Society).
Teaching fellow at a university
The title of (senior) teaching fellow is used to denote an academic teaching position at a university or similar institution and is roughly equivalent to the title of (senior) lecturer. The title (senior) fellow can also be bestowed to an academic member of staff upon retirement who continues to be affiliated to a university in the United Kingdom.
Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin
At colleges of the ancient universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, fellows, sometimes referred to as 'dons', form the governing body of the college. They may elect a council to handle day-to-day management. All fellows are entitled to certain privileges within their colleges, which may include dining at High Table (free of charge) and possibly the right to a room in college (free of charge).
At Cambridge, retired academics may remain fellows. At Oxford, however, a Governing Body fellow would normally be elected a fellow emeritus and would leave the Governing Body upon his or her retirement. Distinguished old members of the college, or its benefactors and friends, might also be elected 'Honorary Fellow', normally for life; but beyond limited dining rights this is merely an honour. Most Oxford colleges have 'Fellows by Special Election' or 'Supernumerary Fellows', who may be members of the teaching staff, but not necessarily members of the Governing Body.
Graduate school fellowships
In the context of graduate school in the United States and Canada, a fellow is a recipient of a fellowship. Examples are the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rosenthal Fellowship and the Presidential Management Fellowship. It is granted to prospective or current students, on the basis of their academic or research achievements.
Fellowship as an honour
Some UK universities (particularly those that, as members of federal universities, did not historically award their own honorary degrees) bestow the title of Fellow or Honorary Fellow, e.g. Fellow of King's College and Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University.
At Harvard and some other universities in the United States, "fellows" are members of the Board of Trustees who hold administrative positions as non-executive trustee rather than academics.
Cambridge and Oxford colleges
Some senior administrators of a college such as bursars are made fellows, and thereby become members of the governing body, because of their importance to the running of a college.
CASI Global is originally from New York and now present across 50 countries. (2016) CASI Global Fellows serve on an honorary basis in their geography to further promote the cause & Knowledge of CSR & Sustainability' They are also addressed as regional directors / regional general secretaries and so on. http://casiglobal.us/certificate.html
CASI also encourages large corporates to nominate senior management professionals as honorary office bearers to help strengthen the CASI Global mission. Sometimes these nominees are awarded an honorary fellow. http://casiglobal.us/country.html
Teaching fellows in the US
Learned and professional societies
Fellows are the highest grade of membership of most professional or learned societies (for example, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators or Royal College of Surgeons). Lower grades are referred to as members (who typically share voting rights with the fellows), or associates (who may or may not, depending on whether "associate" status is a form of full membership).
How a fellowship is acquired varies for each society, but may typically involve some or all of these:
- A qualifying period in a lower grade
- Passing a series of examinations
- Nomination by two existing fellows who know the applicant professionally
- Evidence of continued formal training post-qualification
- Evidence of substantial achievement in the subject area
- Submission of a thesis or portfolio of works which will be examined
Exclusive learned societies such as the Royal Society have Fellow as the only grade of membership, others like the Faculty of Young Musicians (now defunct) have members holding the post of Associate and posts Honoris Causa. The Management and Strategy Institute has two membership grades titled Fellow and Senior Fellow.
Appointment as an honorary fellow in a learned or professional society can be either to honour exceptional achievement and/or service within the professional domain of the awarding body or to honour contributions related to the domain from someone who is professionally outside of it. Membership of the awarding body may or may not be a requirement.
US medical training
In US medical institutions, a fellow refers to someone who has completed residency training (e.g. in internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, etc.) and is currently in a 1 to 3 year subspecialty training program (e.g. cardiology, pediatric nephrology, transplant surgery, etc.).
Industry and corporate
Large corporations in research and development-intensive industries (IBM, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Google or Apple in information technology, Bell Labs, Northrop Grumman or L3 Communications in telecommunications, and Boston Scientific in Medical Devices for example) appoint a small number of senior engineers and scientists as Technical Fellows. Technical Fellow is the most senior rank or title one can achieve in a technical career, though some fellows also hold business titles such as vice president or chief technology officer.
Nonprofit organizations and government
The title fellow can be used for participants in a professional development program run by a nonprofit or governmental organization. This type of fellowship is a short term work opportunity (1–2 years) for professionals who already possess some level of academic or professional expertise that will serve the nonprofit mission. Fellows are given a stipend as well as professional experience and leadership training.
Notes and references
- "Research Fellows Directory". Royal Society. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- "Research Fellows". Imperial College London. Retrieved 19 June 2016. Contains examples (as of 19 June 2016) of staff titled "Research Fellow", "Junior Research Fellow", "Royal Society – EPSRC Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow" and "Royal College of Surgeons Research Fellow".
- "Fellows of King's". King's College London. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- "Honorary Fellows". Cardiff University. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- "Home". Teaching Fellows. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- UVM Career Services. "Find Non-Profit Fellowships". University of Vermont. Retrieved 19 July 2011.