Frequently Asked Questions for Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities

Is the competition open to non-U.S. citizens?


What degree qualifications must I have to be eligible to apply?

You must have received or expect to receive a qualified PhD in a relevant field of the humanities within the timeframe specified for a given year's competition.

My PhD is from a department at Stanford University, may I apply?

No, Stanford University Masters or PhD scholars are not eligible for a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship.

May I apply if I received my PhD from a non-U.S. institution?

Yes, the Fellowship is open to recipients of a PhD regardless of the nationality of the conferring institution.

May I apply if I have received the PhD degree before 31 July 2019 or expect to receive it after 31 July 2023?

Only applications submitted by those whose date of degree falls within this time period will be reviewed. We define the date of completion of the PhD degree as the day you officially fulfill all requirements for the degree as defined by your institution.

Please note that, in response to the COVID shutdown, we have extended the period of eligibility by a year (from 3 to 4 years past the award of the PhD).

I do not have a PhD, but I have a disciplinary equivalent in a related field: am I still eligible?

Doctorates in Arts (DA) and other doctoral degree equivalents may apply, but are unlikely to be selected.

Can I apply for a field outside my PhD field of study?

Applicants are not necessarily required to apply to the fields in which they earned their PhD. An applicant applying outside of her degree field should specify what field she would like to be considered for and demonstrate the applicability of her work to that field. Since successful applicants work and teach in the departments, those applying outside their degree fields are expected to explain the relevance of their research and teaching to the department/field in which they would conduct those activities.

Will my application be considered for more than one field/department if my research applies to more than one?

Yes, we will consider an application for more than one field. If your research and teaching interests would fit within either English or Drama, for example, and both of those fields are open in a given year, you may specify in your cover letter the fields for which you'd like to be considered. We advise that you familiarize yourself with the research and teaching profiles of all Stanford departments for which you may be considered. We also sometimes elect to consider applications for fields outside any specified where this seems appropriate, and where doing so seems of benefit to the application.

Is the competition open to currently employed academics?

Yes, provided you received a qualified PhD within the time frame specified for the year you apply.

Is the competition open to those who are already serving in a postdoctoral position?

Yes, provided you received a qualified PhD within the degree window.

However, those who have previously held a position similar to the Mellon Fellowship are less likely to be competitive for this program

What is the teaching load? What kinds of courses do fellows teach?

Fellows are required to teach two courses during each year of their participation in the program. Stanford is on a quarter system, so every fellow will have at least one term per year without a teaching obligation. Teaching needs and expectations vary by department. A fellow's home department determines his or her teaching requirements. The types of courses taught will also vary according to departmental and curricular needs; fellows should generally expect to teach either large lecture courses or smaller seminar-style classes to undergraduates, but may be given the opportunity to teach graduate level courses.


When is the deadline for applications?

October 15th (11:59 PM Pacific Time).

Will receipt of my application be acknowledged?

Yes, you will receive an automated email indicating that your application has been submitted. Please make sure to provide a working email address with your other contact information, and one that will remain active at least through the spring. You can also confirm that your application is complete by accessing your online application record. This will be your primary method of checking the status of your application.

When do I find out whether or not I've been awarded a fellowship?

Notifications will be sent in the spring. The program office will not answer questions about the status of individual applications before this time. Please note, we will not be able to provide feedback on individual applications due to the number of applicants and volume of inquiries received

Must I include an abstract based on my dissertation, or may I include a proposal for a new project?

Please upload the abstract for your PhD dissertation specifically as indicated. You may address future research you may wish to pursue over the course of a fellowship term in your cover letter.

Can writing samples be in languages other than English?

Yes, but the search committee is interdisciplinary, not from any one department, and the candidate *cannot* be assured that the department from which the reader came is such that it would be a professional expectation to have one or another particular language. The main language of university instruction is English, and any letter submitted in another language takes some risk of not being helpful to the candidate. All other application materials should be in English.

May I submit as my writing sample an excerpt from a longer piece as long as it meets the 40 page limit?

Yes, you may submit an excerpt from a longer piece.

Do graphs/pictures/examples count against the page limit?

No, graphs, pictures and examples (i.e. sections of sheet music) do not count against the page limit. However, please take note of document sizes and upload limits.

Are footnotes/bibliography required? Do they count against page limits?

Please note that footnotes/bibliography are not required, but they do not count against page limits if included.

What citation style or reference system should I use?

Follow disciplinary norms for quoting and citing sources.

Subsequent to submitting my application, I received a scholarly award or had an essay accepted for publication. May I submit an updated CV or replace my previous writing sample with the newly published piece?

If you wish to make changes to your application after it has been submitted, you may email for assistance, up to the application deadline. Once the deadline has passed, all materials are final, and we are unable to forward additional or updated materials to the Committee.

Who evaluates applications?

Applications are considered first by an interdisciplinary selection committee of scholars from around the world and faculty from across the humanities departments at Stanford. From a pool of the most promising candidates, finalists are subsequently selected by faculty sub-committees within the Stanford departments into which applicants will be placed.

Letters of Recommendation

When will my recommender be notified to submit his or her recommendation for my application?

Your recommenders should receive an email within minutes of your entering their information into your application, which includes instructions on how to submit their recommendations through the system. Please be sure to follow up with your recommenders, as spam filters can interfere with the delivery of automated emails.

You may want to fill in the letters of recommendation section before completing the rest of the application in order to give your letter writers ample time to compose and submit their letters

May my recommenders submit their recommendations prior to my having submitted my application?

Yes, recommenders can submit their recommendations as soon as you have created your account and entered their names and emails in the “Letters of Recommendation” section of the application.

Does the deadline for recommendation submissions differ from the deadline for application submissions?

Letters of recommendation are due by the application deadline. However, please note that the online portal for recommenders will remain open for the submission of letters for a few days after that date.

What if my recommendation letters arrive after the application deadline?

We will make every effort to forward letters received after the recommender portal has closed. However, we cannot guarantee that late letters will reach Selection Committee members before the screening of files.

My recommender is having trouble submitting his/her recommendation via the automated system. What should I do?

Recommenders are encouraged to submit letters through our online application system, but those who wish to submit their letters via email should send them to

Can I track whether my recommenders have submitted their recommendations?

Yes, you can track whether your recommendations have been submitted by logging into your application account, and reviewing the “Letters of Recommendation” section.

May I have a dossier service submit pre-written recommendations?

Yes. If using a dossier service, you must still enter distinct contact information for each individual recommender in the “Letters of Recommendation” section of your application - please do not use your own email or an administrator email for multiple recommenders. Check the box indicating that you are using a dossier service, so that your recommenders will not receive the automated instructional email. Then have the dossier service email the letters directly to

May I submit more than two recommendations?

We allow only two recommendations. Additional recommendations will not be reviewed.


If you have a program-related question not answered above, please feel free to email the Program Officer at