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Hertz Fellowship

Campus Deadline Disciplines Purpose Open To Eligibility Endorsement Required
October 1 STEM Funding for 5 years of graduate study at an accredited U.S. university Seniors and first year graduate students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. U.S. citizen or permanent resident No

The Hertz Graduate Fellowship Awarded is based on merit (not need) and consists of a cost-based education allowance and a personal-support stipend. The cost-of-education allowance is accepted by all of the participating schools in lieu of all fees and tuition. Hertz Fellows therefore have no liability for any ordinary educational costs, regardless of their choice among participating schools.

Successful applicants have the choice of two Fellowship options:

Five Year Hertz

  • $32,000/ 9-month personal stipend*
  • Full tuition equivalent
  • Renewable for up to 5 years

Five Year Coordinated

  • Hertz Period – Two Years
  • $38,000/ 9-month personal stipend*
  • Full tuition equivalent

Other Fellowship Period (Up to Three Years)

  • $6,000/ year supplemental stipend* from Hertz
  • Requires Awardees to accept a 3-year Fellowship from another source

The Five-Year Hertz Fellowship award (Option 1) is renewable annually (upon a showing of satisfactory progress toward receipt of the Ph.D. degree) for a total Fellowship tenure of no more than five years.  Fellows with dependant children receive an additional $5,000/year stipend.

Fellows must attend one of the Foundation’s currently participating schools, or must petition the Foundation to include a school in the United States that he/she desires to attend. Eligible applicants for Hertz Fellowships must be students of the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences or mathematics who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States of America, and who are willing to morally commit to make their skills available to the United States in time of national emergency. College seniors wishing to pursue the PhD degree in any of the fields of particular interest to the Foundation, as well as graduate students already in the process of doing so, may apply. We generally do not award fellowships to students who are already beyond their first year of graduate study except in cases of “exceptional leverage.” Such awards are very rare—only three have been made in the past 10 years.

We screen Fellowship applicants for qualities the Foundation believes are essential ingredients of future professional accomplishment and/or reasonably reliable leading indicators of future professional success.  These include:

Exceptional Intelligence and Creativity
with particular emphasis on those aspects pertinent to technical endeavors.

Excellent Technical Education
evidenced not only by transcripts and reference reports from senior technical professionals, but also by the results of a personal, technical interview.

Orientation and Commitment to the applications of the physical sciences
as is typical of most applicants.

Extraordinary Accomplishment in technical or related professional studies
which may offset slightly lower academic records, or add luster to outstanding ones.

Features of Temperament and Character conducive to high attainment as a technical professional
the assessment of which is difficult, albeit important to the Foundation.

Appropriate moral and ethical values
of considerable interest to the Foundation in the furthering of our basic goals.

what difference the award of the Hertz Fellowship is likely to make in the kind, quality, and/or personal creativity of the student’s graduate research.

We do not support students pursuing advanced professional degrees other than the PhD, such as enrollees in MD, LLD or MBA programs, although we will support the PhD portion of a joint MD/PhD study program.

Hertz Fellowship Commitment

Should an applicant be offered a Graduate Fellowship by the Hertz Foundation, she or he must formally accept it before commencing its tenure. This acceptance includes a statement that the Fellow makes a moral commitment to make his or her “skills available to the United States in times of national emergency.”

What does this mean, and why does the Foundation require it?

John Hertz felt he owed the United States more than he could repay for the opportunities he had been given when he arrived here as a very young immigrant, fleeing ongoing oppression in central Europe. Thus it is not surprising that he wanted any young person who was going to be supported by his wealth through the course of their graduate education to deliberately answer, on at least one occasion, the question “What do I owe my country?”  Hence, the statement on the Foundation’s Fellowship acceptance form. Please note that this is not a legal or contractual obligation, but rather a freely given moral commitment. No one from the Foundation has ever approached a present or former Fellow and told him or her that the United States faces a national emergency and she or he is obligated to address it. No one ever will. The Foundation believes that each individual Fellow must decide for him/herself, at any point in time, whether the country faces a truly serious problem and, if so, whether he or she is capable of employing the technical skills they possess to help address it. The Foundation offers no definition of what constitutes a “national emergency”—these are reasonably well-recognized only in distant hindsight—but one might consider as examples the following historical events in which scientists and engineers have played a major role:

  • The development of radar by British scientists and engineers in the late 1930’s that enabled the RAF to win the Battle of Britain.
  • The Manhattan Project in the United States.
  • The Apollo Program that fulfilled President Kennedy’s declaration: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth”.

In the future, we might reasonably expect our nation to face emergencies in:

  • Fuel shortages and quests for new energy sources
  • Materials supplies
  • Transportation and communication system overloads
  • Deterioration of environmental quality
  • Malevolent utilization of cyberspace
  • Misuse of modern molecular biology

In every case, the Foundation believes that it is up to the individual Fellow to determine for herself or himself whether a serious problem exists and whether or not she or he can help. We believe that any Hertz Fellow answering the Hertz Question in the affirmative in any of these respects has a clear moral obligation to go to work accordingly.

For more information, visit the Hertz fellowship website.


Russel Calfish

Russel Calfish

Hertz Fellowship
Awarded - 1974-1975

Rebecca Carlson

Rebecca Joy Carlson

Hertz Fellowship
Awarded - 2016-2017

Lydia Finney

Lydia Finney

Hertz Fellowship
Awarded - 1989-1990

Charles Hultquist

Charlie Hultquist

Hertz Fellowship
Finalist - 2021-2022

Kevin Karplus

Kevin Karplus

Hertz Fellowship
Awarded - 1977-1978
For a complete list of all awardees, including Honorable Mentions and Finalists, see All Awardees.
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