Friends of the International Center Fellowship

The Friends of the International Center (FIC) was a non-profit, all-volunteer organization founded in 1961 (dissolved September 2021) whose mission statement was to support international education; to foster friendship, understanding, and cooperation within the international community; and to create a meeting place on the UC San Diego campus for people who share these aims. This mission may not seem novel in present times, but, at the time, the concept of global citizenship did not exist and the very word “foreign” often engendered fear rather than igniting curiosity. The FIC operated a variety of programs, building cross-national community while supporting international scholars and their families at UC San Diego, as well as funding an academic student support program for both undergraduate students studying abroad and graduate students whose work had an international component and/or global relevance. 

The FIC student support program began with a single award in 1975 and at its peak, before the pandemic of 2020, awarded 41 scholarships to undergraduate students and 32 fellowships to graduate students. Over the life of the FIC student support program, it has awarded over $1 million to UC San Diego scholars. The FIC generously established a graduate fellowship endowment fund to support their mission in perpetuity at UC San Diego.


  • Up to 10 graduate fellowships of $2,000 each will be awarded for 2024-25.

  • Each graduate academic program may nominate a maximum of two outstanding eligible graduate students for these awards.

  • Ruth Newmark Award: In any year in which there is more than one Friends Fellowship award granted, one award will be noted as the “Ruth Newmark Award” to the student who best exemplifies service to others and/or is the most dynamic. Ruth Newmark is one of the founders of the Friends of the International Center, guiding the Program since its inception in 1975, and serving as its Committee Chair since the 1980s. Ruth is highly committed to UC San Diego, as was her husband, Leonard Newmark, the founding faculty member for the Department of Linguistics (1963). Ruth’s passion stems from her personal history: she was an immigrant, attended a public university, received academic scholarship support, and dedicated her life to promoting international education, cross-cultural understanding, and fostering community and friendship across ages and borders.


  • Nominees must be enrolled full-time in a UC San Diego matriculating graduate degree-conferring program offering the highest terminal academic degree in their discipline, and registered for a full-time program of study and/or research in 2023-24 at UC San Diego or, in the case of international student nominees, must be on campus at UC San Diego in 2023-24.

  • Nominees must have already formulated a clear thesis/final project for their Ph.D., D.M.A., or M.F.A. at UC San Diego by the time of award.

  • Nominees must have a distinguished academic record, and their academic work must advance the understanding of topics with an international component and/or otherwise be of global relevance.

  • Successful nominees must have a demonstrated history of service and/or volunteerism, ideally promoting cross-cultural understanding and/or an internationally inclusive community.

  • All graduate students who meet the above eligibility criteria will be considered regardless of citizenship/nationality.

  • The following degree programs are not eligible:

    • School of Medicine M.D.

    • Skaggs School of Pharmacy Pharm.D. and Masters Degree in Drug Development & Product Management

    • Rady School of Management M.B.A.

    • School of Global Policy and Strategy M.P.I.A.

  • Former recipients of the Friends of the International Center Fellowship are not eligible for re-award.

Each department may nominate ONLY two (2) students. Please rank your nominees with #1 being the strongest candidate.

Please submit the following for each student applicant as one .pdf file:

  1. Letter from a UC San Diego faculty member and endorsed by the graduate program/department chair containing:

    • An evaluation of the nominee's graduate performance to date and potential for future contributions to research or artistic activity in the student's discipline.

    • Other support the student is receiving (including department fellowships and/or extramural funding) and the student's financial need. 

    • Contribution the student has made, if any, to promote international friendship, understanding, and cooperation at UC San Diego.

    • Program ranking, if more than one student is nominated.

  2. Statement from the nominee

    • Two-page maximum

    • In the statement, the nominee should describe their qualifications for the award, graduate study, career plans, financial need, and past and proposed contributions to promoting international friendship and understanding at UC San Diego. The nominee should also explain their intended use of the award. Consider discussing any compelling reasons funding is not or has not been available and is needed to continue course of study, obtain equipment, etc.

      • A willingness to volunteer, mentor and/or pay it forward with their peers is encouraged though not a requirement. 

      • A willingness to meet with one or more of their donors is encouraged though not a requirement. 

  3. Student's vitae with current email and mailing address.

  4. Student's current transcript. (Unofficial is acceptable.)


Only department submissions will be accepted; students and faculty must work with their departments and may not self-nominate.

Department representatives should submit nominations via this Google Form:

Click here to view a preview of all questions asked on the nomination form.

Questions can be directed to the Student Services and Support Portal, write the name of the fellowship in the subject line.

  • Nomination Deadline: Extended to Wednesday, May 15, 2024 (11:59pm)

  • Is this fellowship limited to STEM disciplines?

    • No, this fellowship is open to many difference academic disciplines; please review the eligibility criteria above for more details.

  • Is this fellowship open to international and domestic graduate students?

    • Yes, all interested students (domestic and international) should seek departmental nomination.