When considering the word intern, one assumes a student or a recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training. This is the path pursued by most architecture graduates on their way to acquiring the status of a fully-trained or licensed professional. This period of internship is a long-standing tradition in architecture.

The concept of fellowship, on the other hand, is relatively new in the architectural education process. Architectural fellowships may offer budding professionals increased benefits and career-promoting opportunities aimed at enriching the ongoing personal and professional development process. These benefits may include client interaction, direct mentorship, research opportunities, experiences catered to one’s values and interests, a broadened professional network, legacy, and prestige.

The term fellowship is defined in several ways, including the sharing of common experiences, a group of like-minded people, similarity and membership in a group, or the sharing of characteristics with others. Intellectual communities utilize fellowships in various capacities. For example, academia has research fellows, teaching fellows, and faculty fellows. In medicine, there are medical fellows. Many industries also elevate professionals to fellowship status. What all of these have in common is they recognize and encourage intellectual contribution through friendly association. In addition, the word fellowship can imply financial endowment for support of endeavors or research initiatives.


During these current economic times when the job search is particularly tough, new graduates may experience difficulty in securing a full-time position that is related to their field of study. Being awarded a fellowship can provide an alternative to drafting and construction documents. Fellowships can be privately funded, guaranteeing an opportunity for new grads and young professionals to accelerate their careers, even in a recession. While a traditional intern position at a firm may be hard to find, a fellowship may continue to be available. In addition, the sponsoring organization may also offer a permanent position after completion of the fellowship. Fellowships are not only awarded to recent graduates, but some are geared towards those who are well into their architectural career.

A fellowship may grant a young professional an edge in a competitive architectural job market. Experience with client exposure and interaction is perhaps more difficult for young people to achieve in the early stages of one's architecture and design career. The “front-end” activities related to project work, which are generally pursued by those in more senior positions, may be some of the opportunities offered to a fellow. These include participating in user group sessions, developing a program for a particular building type, and conducting postoccupancy evaluations.

A benefit of many fellowship programs is that it can “jump-start” one’s career. Client interactions occur from the start and leadership is given to the fellow to take initiative and become an almost equal player within the design team. Experience gained during a fellowship may also be eligible for Intern Development Program (IDP) credit, a mandatory component of the architectural licensing process.

In the continuously changing climate of architecture today, research, such as evidence-based design, has become an essential component of practice, especially prominent in healthcare design. Research initiatives possible to pursue during a fellowship are virtually endless and are generally tailored to a person's particular interests and skills. Research grants and select fellowship programs offer funding for the pursuit of individually developed research projects. Fellowships may allow access to resources that being an employee or intern cannot. Every employment opportunity can provide a means to evaluate strengths and weaknesses; however, fellowship mentors are dedicated to encourage and foster accelerated career development over its duration for carefully selected applicants.


Architectural career development can only grow with a combination of aspiring designers and dedicated mentors. Fellows have had the opportunity to disseminate knowledge through exhibition, mentorship, education, publication, and research. Fellowships can offer the opportunity to create new support networks with other professionals in the field and promote collegiality among professionals within and across institutions. The goal of mentorship is often emphasized within fellowship programs. A mentor, defined as a wise and trusted counselor, teacher, influential senior sponsor, or supporter, promotes a professional relationship that fosters guidance and support during the mentee's development. One's mentor can act as a role model for professional leadership, facilitating the development of increased competencies and stronger interpersonal skills. Mentors may also sponsor publication of the fellow’s work, further expanding his or her exposure in the architectural community.

Fellowships often provide exposure to a variety of local and national professionals and experts in the field, through universities, alumni, clientele, and conferences. These connections can develop into lasting mentorships. Mentorship is also readily available from past fellows, who can provide expertise and guidance on professional milestones during and following the fellowship. Fellowships foster the skills necessary to become a lifelong mentor and teacher, through leading in-house presentations, lectures, having an active role in a team, and attending conferences.

Fellowships offered in healthcare design:

Tradewell Fellowship
WHR Architects
Houston, Texas
Named in honor of the late Gary Tradewell, the Tradewell Fellowship was created to build the careers of aspiring healthcare architects. The Tradewell Fellow is someone who wants to be a lifelong learner and mentor to others. In order to develop particular expertise in an area of (his or her) interest, the Fellow will choose a topic related to the design of healing spaces and create a body of writing that is suitable for publication. The Fellow will also receive a scholarship to attend a national healthcare conference, and the opportunity to attend and lead many in-house educational presentations. Other educational opportunities for the Fellow include: assisting with teaching a graduate-level course on health facility planning, design, and construction; participating in evidence-based design activities; and assisting members of the firm in authoring speeches, articles, or books. After completion of the program, the Tradewell Fellow may be invited to continue employment with WHR.

HKS Healthcare Fellowship
Dallas, Texas
HKS founded the Healthcare Fellowship to recognize and encourage aspiring and talented design professionals committed to improving the built environment for the delivery of health services. Those selected are willing to commit their careers to healthcare architecture, and represent future leaders in the industry. The Fellow will pursue unique learning opportunities to further his/her knowledge of healthcare architecture. These opportunities can include accelerated professional credentialing, special studies in planning and design, educational involvement, research opportunities, international practice exposure, and professional development. The term of the Healthcare Fellowship is one year, but the arrangements put in place during this period may extend longer. In recognition of the recipient’s commitment and achievements, the Fellow will receive a stipend. HKS is a learning organization dedicated to continuing education and professional improvement. The HKS Healthcare Fellowship embodies this philosophy.

The Loeb Fellowship
Harvard University
Boston, Massachusetts
The Loeb Fellowship was established in 1970 through the generosity of the late John L. Loeb, Harvard College, 1924. Based at the Graduate School of Design, the program offers 10 annual postprofessional awards for independent study at Harvard. Through the Fellowship, participants have access to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Design, the Graduate School of Education, Harvard Business School, Harvard College, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Law School, the Kennedy School of Government, and M.I.T.

AIA Arthur N. Tuttle Jr. Graduate Fellowship in Health Facility Planning & Design
American Institute of Architects, American Hospital Association
This fellowship offers various opportunities for students of undergraduate-, graduate-, and doctoral-level study to receive support for a project with a healthcare design focus. Goals are to encourage young architects and students to enter the specialized field of hospital planning, to increase architecture students' awareness of the special requirements and nature of healthcare facilities, to attract talented young architects to this challenging area of professional practice, and to advance the knowledge of planning and design for healthcare environments.

Disclaimer: this list may not be inclusive of all fellowship programs related to hospital facility design.

The opportunity to mentor brings with it numerous benefits, including the prospect for young professionals to strengthen their knowledge base and improve communication skills, and enhance their leadership, teaching, and coaching skills, while also encouraging them to become more reflective practitioners. Benefits extend to both the one mentoring as well as the mentee. A fellow will not only have access to an ongoing network of past fellows, but will also gain the opportunity to provide mentorship to those who are younger and joining the program. This type of working environment promotes professional relationships that foster guidance and support, in addition to promoting self-confidence and intrinsic satisfaction as one becomes familiar with a new role, increased responsibilities, or a new organizational culture.

A fellowship can be an accelerated apprenticeship, nurturing the potential of talented individuals. Holding the title of protégé under those who are highly-achieved and highly-experienced is invaluable. Mentors can help navigate one’s career path by providing a history of successes and failures. Lessons learned, effective client interaction, mastered approaches to presentation, and strategic thinking only begin to tell the story of a fellowship experience. Mentors are dedicated to advancing the career of the fellow, passing on years of experience and wisdom. Value is not only held by the fellow, but also the mentors, and the organization as a whole. Sponsoring a young, talented professional will foster new insights and innovative solutions.


Fellows are often chosen through a careful selection process from a pool of exceptional individuals. Programs will often promote the individual values, interests, and strengths of those selected, allowing unique experiences and end-products to be developed. The value of fellowships to young professionals cannot be underestimated as a way of accelerating one’s professional career, in addition to a way of gaining valuable mentorship and guidance through a network of past fellows.

The notion of legacy—of the passing of an entity or tradition from year to year—holds its strength in both consistency and a growing community of individuals who share a similar path. The prospect of becoming part of a select group of others who have shared a particular experience and title allows for lifelong membership. This title is usually one which remains throughout one’s career, as does the achievement of an academic program and degree.

Advancement benefits from winning a fellowship extend beyond the time parameters of the fellowship itself. Fellows are often challenged to go further, take risks, set new goals, and achieve higher personal and/or professional standards. Knowledge gained from the accelerated apprenticeship can be applied to future endeavors. A fellowship on a résumé demonstrates stature; a positive reputation created from a legacy of past and future fellows is highly regarded by most. Students can be proactive and strategic in their job search, finding opportunities to advance their career without sacrificing their interests and values.


Architectural fellowships are affording emerging professionals very unique experiences in comparison to the standard internship—opportunity, mentorship, and legacy are among the greatest benefits. The duration of fellowships varies, and at the end of a fellow’s tenure, a contributing product (i.e., published material) is often requested, providing the opportunity to advance and give back to the architectural community. A fellowship can offer the prospect of knowledge exchange within the profession, providing the ability to both receive and contribute ideas in an effort to enhance healthcare environments and design.

Diana Anderson, MD, LEED AP received her B.Sc. (Arch) and M.Arch degrees from McGill University and went on to study medicine and earn her M.D. at the University of Toronto. Upon graduation from medical school, Diana was awarded the Tradewell Fellowship at WHR Architects, Houston, providing a unique opportunity to combine her architecture and medicine backgrounds. Diana is now working as an intern medical planner while continuing to be involved in evidence-based design research. Diana can be contacted at danderson@whrarchitects.com.

Kelly Egdorf, LEED AP, Assoc. AIA, graduated from Kansas State in May 2009 an M.Arch. A native of Chaska, Minnesota, Kelly relocated to Houston, Texas, as the 2009-2010 Tradewell Fellow at WHR Architects. Kelly is currently working directly with senior medical planners and past fellows on master-planning efforts. Kelly is also exploring her interest in healing environments in healthcare and the well-being of all building users. Kelly can be contacted at kegdorf@whrarchitects.com.

Ashley Dias, LEED AP, EDAC, received her M.Arch with a Certificate in Health Systems and Design from Texas A&M University. In 2008 Ashley was selected as the 2008-2009 HKS Healthcare Fellow. During her fellowship tenure she studied the architectural evolution of hospitals through a case study of Johns Hopkins Medicine. In addition to fellowship activities, she has participated in conceptual design, schematic design, design development, and construction documentation, as well as research-related initiatives. Ashley can be contacted at adias@hksinc.com.