John W. White Graduate Fellowship

Each year, the Senate Committee on Student Life recognizes outstanding undergraduate students who are graduating Summa cum Laude, and who plan to enroll in graduate study.


Name: John W. White Graduate Fellowship.

Purpose: The purpose of this fellowship will be to recognize and support outstanding graduate students enrolled or planning to enroll in any graduate degree program of The Pennsylvania State University or any other university.

Amount of Fund: The initial principal of this fund is a portion of the John W. White Memorial Fund, which had been contributed to The Pennsylvania State University for the above-stated purpose from James G. White, Class of 1882, in memory of his father, John W. White.

Eligibility: Consideration for this fellowship will be given to all full-time senior students exhibiting academic excellence and graduating Summa cum Laude who have been admitted to The Pennsylvania State University or another university as candidates for a graduate degree no later than the beginning of the next academic year.

Selection Procedure: Recipients of this fellowship will be selected by the Senate Committee on Student Life.

Amount of Graduate Fellowship: The number of fellowships awarded and the amount of each will be determined by the selection committee. Fellowships will be awarded annually in accordance with the University endowment spending policy.

Term of Graduate Fellowship: Each fellowship is awarded for one year.

Endowment Management: This endowment will be subject to general guidelines and policies adopted by the Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University for the management of endowed funds. Stability of endowment support and preservation of purchasing power against inflationary pressures will be achieved by limiting spending to a specified percentage of the annually-determined market value of the fund. As authorized by the Board of Trustees, the University’s Investment Committee monitors and administers annual endowment spending. Any investment returns in excess of the designated spending rate are retained in the principal of the fund.

Amendment: The Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University will have the authority to make changes in these guidelines which are necessary to ensure the fulfillment of the above-stated objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the history of the John W. White Graduate Fellowship?

A. The John White Fellowship is one of the oldest and most enduring fellowships at Penn State. The award was established in 1902 by James Gilbert White to honor his father, Rev. John W. White of Milroy, Pennsylvania.

Q. How many students will be awarded a John W. White Graduate Fellowship, and in what amount?

A. The Senate Committee on Student Life makes these decisions based on their candidate selections and the amount of funds available to award. Click here to view awarding history.

Q. Do I have to attend Penn State for my graduate studies in order to be eligible for a John White Graduate Fellowship?

A. No. If you will be attending another college/university, you are eligible to apply. You only need to have completed your undergraduate degree at Penn State.

Q. What is Summa cum Laude?

A. Summa cum Laude means graduating with the highest distinction. Graduation with distinction GPA’s are calculated annually by the Office of the University Registrar. See the distinction GPA’s for the current academic year.

Q. Am I eligible for this award if I am graduating with an Associate Degree?

A. No, only students who are graduating from a four-year program and are going on to graduate school are eligible for this award.

Q. I am planning on pursuing graduate study, but not right away. Would I still be eligible to receive a John White Graduate Fellowship?

A. No, the eligibility requirements mandate the start of graduate study to be in the beginning of the upcoming academic year.

Q. After graduation, I will be enrolled in courses leading to certification. Would I be eligible for a John White Graduate Fellowship?

A. No. The eligibility criteria state, “…consideration for this fellowship will be given to those graduating seniors who have been admitted as candidates for a graduate degree.”

Q. If I am asked to provide a cover letter and resume, to whom should I address my letter, and what salutation should I use?

A. You may address your letter as follows:

University Faculty Senate
101 Kern Graduate Building
University Park, PA 16802*

And use the Salutation: Dear Senate Committee on Student Life: *

*This is suggested information; if you have already sent your materials with another address or salutation, there is no need to resubmit.

Q. If I am invited to interview what should I wear?

A. Both men and women can wear a suit. However, “dressed-up” casual is also acceptable. Women could consider wearing a pants suit or separates such as a sweater set and slacks or a blazer, blouse, and skirt. Men may want to wear a blazer with dress pants, dress shirt, and tie.

Q. What kinds of questions will I be asked during the interview?

A. The interview committee is interested in hearing about your experiences at Penn State from both an academic and community service perspective. Also, the committee wants to learn about your future plans, including graduate study. There are no trick questions and the interview is usually finished in approximately 20 minutes.

Q. When will the money for this award be disbursed?

A. If chosen to receive a John White Graduate Fellowship, half of the amount awarded will be disbursed for the Fall Semester and the other half for the Spring Semester of the upcoming academic year, unless special arrangements are made with the Office of Student Aid.

Q. What do I need to provide to start receiving funds after being selected for this award?

A. You must provide proof of registration from your graduate school and a current mailing address. This must be an official document from a Registrar. If you are enrolled at Penn State, the proof of registration can be printed from your eLion account or can be acquired from the Registrar. Whether you are attending Penn State or another college/university, send this documentation to:

University Faculty Senate
Senate Committee on Student Life
101 Kern Graduate Building
University Park, PA 16802

Q. If I am enrolled in a graduate program at Penn State, can the money from this award be deposited directly into my Penn State account?

A. Yes, and if you are attending a college/university other than Penn State, the money will be sent to you at the address you have provided.

Q. How long will it take to receive my money after notification of graduate enrollment?

A. If you have direct deposit, the money can be deposited into the account which you have chosen for that purpose. In this case, it will usually take a few days. However, if you do not have direct deposit, it may take several weeks to receive the funds because they will be released as a refund check and sent through the mail.

If you have specific questions concerning the John W. White Graduate Fellowship, please contact Anna Butler at the Faculty Senate Office at 814-863-1203 or by email at