HRSA LogoSpecialized Training & Academic Retention (STAR) Fellowship Program

The Specialized Training & Academic Retention (STAR) Fellowship aims to diversify the behavioral health workforce by retaining students who are underrepresented in the clinical psychology field, and equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and training to provide culturally responsive services in primary care settings and medically underserved communities (MUCs). The STAR Fellowship is funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration’s Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS).

The SDS is a federal initiative that seeks to increase the (1) number of graduates practicing in primary care settings, (2) retention of full-time students from disadvantaged backgrounds including students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups, and (3) number of graduates working in medically underserved communities. It provides scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have a demonstrated financial need, are enrolled full-time in a health profession program, and have a strong commitment to working with unserved and underserved populations.

Program Objective

The STAR Fellowship Program is housed within the Clinical Psychology Department at William James College. Its primary objectives are to:

  • Provide 20 scholarships annually to eligible students from backgrounds underrepresented in the clinical psychology field (e.g., first-generation college students, students from low-income communities) who are currently enrolled in WJC’s Clinical Psychology Program and have a demonstrated financial need. Each student will be awarded $32,500 annually to cover the costs of tuition and fees.
  • Facilitate access to culturally-focused academic training to promote greater awareness of, and commitment to, careers in medically underserved communities (MUCs) and/or primary care settings.
  • Offer culturally-focused field training opportunities for awardees to work with unserved populations and in underserved communities.
  • Provide mentorship and career counseling to support the successful retention and training of students who are underrepresented in the field of clinical psychology.
  • Foster a sense of community belongingness and peer cohesion through the provision of social-cultural and professional development activities.
  • Facilitate academic and professional development success in graduate school by linking scholarship awardees to academic resources and student support services at WJC.
  • Evaluate the program’s impacts on the career choices of scholarship awardees by tracking the number of graduates who practice in primary care settings and in medically underserved communities.
Scholarship Eligibility Criteria

Based on HRSA’s SDS requirements, an “eligible individual” is a student who (1) is from a disadvantaged background (as defined below), (2) has a demonstrated financial need for a scholarship, and (3) is enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) as a full-time student in an academic program leading to a degree in a health profession (e.g., Clinical Psychology).

The term “disadvantaged background” refers to an individual who comes from either an economically disadvantaged or an educationally/environmentally background:

  • Economically Disadvantaged – means an individual comes from a family with an annual income below a level based on low-income thresholds, according to family size established by the U.S. Census Bureau, adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index and adjusted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Educationally/Environmentally Disadvantaged – means an individual comes from an environment that has inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to enroll in and graduate from a health professions school, or from a program providing education or training in an allied health profession. 

Students receiving financial support from the HRSA-funded SDS program must be a citizen or national of the United States, or a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or a foreign national having in their possession a visa permitting permanent residence in the United States.

The following students are not eligible for the STAR Fellowship:

  • Students who are not currently enrolled or have not been accepted for enrollment at William James College.
  • Students who have been awarded the Serving the Underserved Scholarships.
  • Students who have received a substantial merit award or other scholarships at William James College.
  • Students who receive stipends from the HRSA-funded Graduate Psychology Education Program, the Opioid Workforce Expansion Program or other federal grants.
  • Students who are in their 4th year (or higher) or those who will be completing an internship at the time the scholarship is awarded.
Application Submission, Review and Selection Process
  • Clinical PsyD applicants will be required to submit an application via Qualtrics along with a résumé and an essay, describing their reasons for pursuing a career in the field of clinical psychology, past or current work-related experience serving culturally diverse populations, commitment to working in medically underserved communities, and the financial burden they are currently facing.
  • Applicants must also fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form through the Financial Aid Office.
  • A Scholarships Selection Committee, comprised of the STAR Fellowship Program staff, will conduct a rigorous application review.
  • Applicants for the scholarships will be evaluated based on a combination of factors, including academic achievement and demonstrated financial need, as shown on their FAFSA form.
  • Following the application review process, the Scholarships Selection Committee will identify a core group of finalists and invite them for an interview via Zoom.
  • Awardees will be chosen based on demonstrated financial needs, backgrounds (i.e., first-generation college students, low-income), academic achievement, motivation to work with underserved populations, and career interests in practicing in medically underserved communities and/or primary care settings.
  • To be eligible for future funding, awardees must re-apply on an annual basis and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress, fulfillment of their academic and field placement responsibilities, and continued financial need, per their FAFSA form.
Program Requirements

Scholarship awardees in the Clinical PsyD Program will:

  • Pursue academic training with underserved populations (e.g., Asians, Blacks, Latinos, children, older adults, etc.) through concentrations offered at WJC.
  • Seek field education experiences at training sites that are designated as Federally-Qualified Health Centers and are located in areas that serve low-income families, ethnic/racial minority individuals, linguistic and sexual minority groups, immigrants, and other unserved and underserved populations.
  • Obtain mentorship, career counseling, and academic support throughout their engagement with the STAR Fellowship Program.
  • Participate in professional development and social-cultural activities designed to retain students in the program, enhance their sense of group cohesion, and strengthen their social connections with the WJC community.
  • Engage in volunteer/community service opportunities at WJC and/or with local agencies that serve culturally and socioeconomically diverse communities.

Additionally, awardees must remain in good academic standing throughout their enrollment in the STAR Fellowship Program. They must also submit a FAFSA form annually to determine financial eligibility for the scholarship.

Contact Information

The HRSA-funded STAR Fellowship Program is administered by Dr. Gemima St. Louis, Program Director; and Dr. Natalie Cort, Associate Director. For more information, please email Gemima_Stlouis@williamjames.edu or Natalie_Cort@williamjames.edu.

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