Dissertation Fellowships FAQs

Are students from any institution eligible to apply for these fellowships?

Only Stanford graduate students are eligible to apply for these fellowships.

Are students from outside the humanities eligible to apply?

Applicants from the interpretive social sciences may apply for all three of these fellowships (SHC Dissertation Prize, Mellon Foundation Dissertation, and SHC Career Launch). Applications in the social sciences should employ a research methodology that focuses on historical, philosophical, and/or literary methods of inquiry and should be concerned with questions of culture or value. A project that is largely quantitative or analytical is unlikely to receive support from the selection committee.

Applicants from outside the School of Humanities and Sciences are eligible to apply for SHC Dissertation Prize Fellowships and the Career Launch Fellowships, but not the Mellon.

May I apply for more than one dissertation fellowship?

Applicants who are eligible may apply to both SHC Dissertation Prize and the Mellon Dissertation fellowship, or to just one. The key distinguishing feature between these two fellowships is physical residency at the Humanities Center; applicants who are unable or unwilling to be in residence at the Center for the full academic year should not apply to the SHC Dissertation Prize. Depending on their year in program and dissertation status, they should instead apply to the Mellon or the Career Launch.

Applicants cannot apply to both the SHC Dissertation Prize/Mellon Dissertation and the SHC Career Launch fellowship.

The same selection committee of Stanford faculty evaluates applications for all three fellowships, in two pools: one pool for the SHC Dissertation Prize and Mellon, and another pool for the Career Launch. 

For the SHC Dissertation Prize and Mellon Foundation fellowships: applicants are typically (but not exclusively) in their 5th or 6th year of the doctoral program. From the applicant pool, a top group of approximately 45 potential awardees is identified for the approximately 20 fellowship spots. Only at the very end of the selection process are specific applicants matched up with specific fellowships. Designating both fellowships gives the selection committee more award options, and thus increases the likelihood of receiving a fellowship. However, applicants should only designate both options if they are able to commit to accepting either fellowship if awarded. 

For the SHC Career Launch Fellowships: the selection committee will award fellowships based on eligibility (applicants in year 6+) and demonstration of exceptional scholarly promise.

What are the key differences between these fellowships?

SHC Dissertation Prize Fellowships go to applicants whose work would be of interest to an interdisciplinary group of scholars, and who would benefit from the professional and intellectual resources offered by a year in residence at the Humanities Center.

Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowships are typically given to students who have made timely progress through their early years in graduate school (i.e., those who will be in their 6th year of the graduate program for the tenure of the fellowship). The fellowship is well suited to those who do not want the residency obligations of a Humanities Center fellowship (e.g., daily lunches, weekly seminars, etc.). Please note that Mellon fellows must still fulfill the campus residency requirements set by their dean and departments.

Career Launch Fellowships are given to outstanding students who show strong progress toward completing the dissertation, demonstrate a level of professional acculturation that corresponds to their years in the program, and would benefit from additional professional development in their transition to the academic  job market. Unlike the SHC Dissertation Prize and Mellon Foundation awards, candidates who have held other competitive dissertation fellowships are not at a disadvantage in their applications. Career Launch fellows are not obligated to be in physical residence at the Humanities Center. However, because residency will allow fellows to benefit from and contribute to the SHC fellowship community, Career Launch fellows are encouraged to take active part in the daily life of the Center, including participating in weekday lunches and weekly research seminar. Pending availability, fellows may have access to shared office space at the Center.

May I apply for these fellowships if I need to spend time away from campus?

SHC Dissertation Fellows are are expected to take regular part in the life of the Center for the duration of their fellowship; they should not spend more than a week per academic quarter (plus University holidays and breaks) away.

Mellon Dissertation fellows are obligated to fulfill only those residency requirements set by their dean and departments.

Career Launch Fellows are encouraged to take active part in the daily life of the Center. Travel for the completion of the dissertation is permitted as long as departmental residency requirements are being met.

Are re-applicants disadvantaged in the selection process?

Reapplicants are not at a disadvantage in the selection process. Each year, the selection committee has many more fundable projects than fellowships to grant. Not being awarded a grant in a previous competition will in no way negatively prejudice an application. Additionally, each group of applications is read by a new set of reviewers, as selection committee membership changes each year.

May previous Stanford humanities dissertation fellowship recipients apply for a second fellowship?

Previous Stanford humanities dissertation fellowship recipients (SHC and Mellon) may reapply for a fellowship they have not previously received. They are at a disadvantage in the competition for the SHC Dissertation Prize and Mellon because we try to make those two fellowships available to as broad a group of scholars as our resources will allow, and there are so few fellowship spots to go around. However, previous recipients of a dissertation fellowship (including the SHC DP and Mellon) are not at a disadvantage for the Career Launch fellowship, and are welcomed to apply.

What if my department doesn't require one of the things listed in the degree milestones section?

Please write a brief note explaining this in the “Optional Notes" section of the online application. 

By what date should incompletes be resolved?

Incompletes should be resolved by the beginning of your fellowship term. Please upload an explanation for any exceptional circumstances for an incomplete or degree milestone in the “Optional Notes” section of the online application.

May recipients teach while on fellowship?

No other employment, assistantship, or fellowship (unless specifically intended for travel or research expense) may be held concurrently. Exceptions to this restriction must be approved in advance by the Humanities Center Director (for SHC DP and CL Fellows) or the H&S Dean's Office (for Mellon Fellows).

What should I do if I take another job or fellowship during the competition?

Please notify the fellowship manager at the Humanities Center if you decide to accept another fellowship or a job before the competition results are announced. With so few fellowships and so many deserving applicants, we would like to make offers as soon as possible to students in the position to accept them.