Fellowships & Grants

Fellowship Application Guidelines

Through an international competition, the Center offers 9-month residential fellowships. The Wilson Center invites scholars, practitioners, journalists and public intellectuals to take part in its flagship international Fellowship Program. Fellows conduct research and write in their areas of interest, while interacting with policymakers in Washington and Wilson Center staff and other scholars in residence.  The Center accepts policy-relevant, non-advocacy fellowship proposals that address key challenges confronting the United States and the world.  


 

About the Center

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars aims to unite the world of ideas to the world of policy by supporting pre-eminent scholarship and linking that scholarship to issues of concern to officials in Washington.

Congress established the Center in 1968 as the official, national memorial to President Wilson. Unlike the physical monuments in the nation's capital, it is a living memorial whose work and scholarship commemorates "the ideals and concerns of Woodrow Wilson." As both a distinguished scholar and national leader, President Wilson felt strongly that the scholar and the policymaker were "engaged in a common enterprise." Today the Center takes seriously his views on the need to bridge the gap between the world of ideas and public policy, bringing them into creative contact, enriching the work of both, and enabling each to learn from the other. This continuing dialogue between public policy and scholarship makes the Center unique.

In addition to its residential program, the Center conducts research through its programs, organizes conferences and seminars, and disseminates the content of its work and fellows’ research through The Wilson Quarterly, Dialogue (The Center’s radio and television program), and its book publishing venture, the Woodrow Wilson Center Press. The Center invites Fellows to take part in the Center’s conferences, meetings and seminars and to benefit from the wide range of dialogue that takes place at the Center.

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Application Process

The Wilson Center invites scholars, practitioners, journalists and public intellectuals to take part in its flagship International Fellowship Program and to take advantage of the opportunity to engage actively in the Center’s national mission. The Center awards approximately 15-20 residential fellowships each year. Fellows will be affiliated with one or more of the Wilson Center programs/projects/offices and are encouraged to interact with policy makers in Washington, D.C. as well as with Wilson Center staff and other scholars who are working on similar research and topics.

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Eligibility

  • Citizens or permanent residents from any country (applicants from countries outside the United States must hold a valid passport and be able to obtain a J-1 visa even if they are currently in the United States) (Read more information on visas.)
  • Men and women with outstanding capabilities and experience from a wide variety of backgrounds (including academia, business, government, journalism, and other professions)
  • Academic candidates holding a Ph.D. (Ph.D. must be received by the application deadline of October 1)
  • Academic candidates demonstrating scholarly achievement by publications beyond their doctoral dissertations
  • Practitioners or policymakers with an equivalent level of professional achievement
  • English proficiency as the Center is designed to encourage the exchange of ideas among its fellows

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Ineligibility

  • Applicants working on a degree (even if the degree is to be awarded prior to the proposed fellowship year)
  • Proposals of a partisan or advocacy nature
  • Primary research in the natural sciences
  • Projects that create musical composition or dance
  • Projects in the visual arts
  • Projects that are the rewriting of doctoral dissertations
  • The editing of texts, papers, or documents
  • The preparation of textbooks, anthologies, translations, and memoirs

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Notes on Eligibility

You do not need an institutional affiliation to apply. For most academic candidates, a book or monograph is required. Scholars and practitioners who previously held research awards or fellowships at the Wilson Center are not precluded from applying for a fellowship. However, the nature and recency of the prior award may be among the factors considered during the selection process, and by the Fellowships Committee of the Board of Trustees.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility or the suitability of your project, please e-mail the Scholars and Academic Relations Office at fellowships@wilsoncenter.org.

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Selection Process

Applications that satisfy the eligibility requirements are subsequently subjected to a multi-stage review process involving both internal evaluations by Wilson Center experts and external evaluations by a panel of specialists with relevant expertise.  Final decisions about all grant awards are contingent on the approval of the Center’s Board of Trustees and subject to available funding.

The basic criteria for selection are:

a) significance of the proposed research, including the importance and originality of the project;

b) the relevance of the project to contemporary policy issues;

c) the relevance of the project to the programmatic work of the Center;

d) quality of the proposal in definition, organization, clarity, and scope;

e) capabilities and achievements of the applicant and the likelihood that the applicant will accomplish the proposed project;

f) potential of a candidate to actively contribute to the life, priorities and mission of the Center by making expert research accessible to a broader audience.

The Center welcomes in particular those projects that transcend narrow specialties and methodological issues of interest only within a specific academic discipline. Projects should involve fresh research-—in terms of both the overall field and the author’s previous work. It is essential that projects have relevance to public policy, and fellows should want, and be prepared, to interact with policymakers in Washington and with Wilson Center staff and other scholars who are working on similar issues.

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Programs and Priorities

The Center accepts policy-relevant, non-advocacy fellowship proposals that address key challenges confronting the United States and the world. Priority will be given to proposals which align with the programmatic work of the Center and can result in work that reaches a broad audience. Within this framework, the Wilson Center supports projects that intersect with contemporary policy issues and provide the historical and/or cultural context for some of today’s significant public policy debates.

While in residence, Fellows will be affiliated with regional and/or topical programs working on issues that dovetail with the Fellows’ projects. Program and project directors often collaborate with scholars in producing policy reports, op-eds, and other short written products and in designing seminars, conferences, and/or meetings related to scholars’ research. Fellows are required to give a Work-in-Progress presentation, an internal meeting where fellows can speak about their work, share ideas, and receive feedback from their peers.

Learn more about each of the Center's programs.
 

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Fellows' Responsibilities

The Center's "scholars in residence" are so in both name and practice. Fellows are expected to be present at the Center and work from their assigned work space on most business days and to participate in appropriate meetings organized by the Center. Fellows are also expected to present their research at internal Work-in-Progress seminars, and to attend the Work-in-Progress presentations given by their colleagues. In addition, fellows are encouraged to offer a presentation of their work publicly, where possible, and/or participate in other Center programming. The Center expects all fellows to seek ways to share their expertise with the Washington policy community. The form of such interaction could range from a deep background briefing for an executive branch agency to an informal roundtable discussion with members of Congress and their staffs.

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Woodrow Wilson Center Press

Fellows who do not already have contracts for book projects they are pursuing at the Center are encouraged to seek out the Woodrow Wilson Center Press. The Center’s Press publishes books written here for a worldwide English-language readership through collaborative arrangements with the Johns Hopkins University Press, Stanford University Press, and other partners. 

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Facilities and Services

Each fellow is assigned a furnished office available to him or her every day around the clock. The Center is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., and includes conference rooms, a reference library, and a dining room. The building is a smoke-free environment. The Wilson Center Library provides loan privileges with the Library of Congress and access to digital resources, its book and journal collections, and to university and special libraries in the area, and other research facilities. Windows-based personal computers are provided, and each fellow is offered a part-time research assistant. Although fellows are responsible for locating their own housing in the Washington, D.C. area, the Center provides written materials to help facilitate the search process, if desired.

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Stipend

The Center tries to ensure that the fellowship award, when combined with the recipient’s other sources of income (e.g. other grants and sabbatical allowances), approximates an individual’s current level of income.

Awards will also include round trip travel for fellows. If spouses and/or dependent children will reside with the fellow for the entire fellowship period, money for their travel will also be included. In addition to stipends and travel allowances, the Center provides 75 percent of health insurance premiums for fellows who elect Center coverage and for their accompanying family members.

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Length of Appointment

Fellows are expected to be in residence for the entire U.S. academic year (early September through May). Occasionally, fellowships are awarded for shorter periods, with a minimum of four months. Fellowships may not be deferred.

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Conditions of Award

Fellows must devote full time to the fellowship study and may not accept a teaching assignment, another residential fellowship, or undertake any other major activities that require absence from the Center during the tenure of their fellowship. In order to foster a true community of scholars, fellows must devote a proportionate amount of time to the daily life of the Center. Applicants must notify the Center when they receive other sources of support, including other fellowships or foundation grants, which may affect their request for financial support from the Center. Once fellowships are awarded and at the Center’s (or fellow’s) discretion, project titles may be modified to reflect the Center’s mandate to serve as a bridge between the world of learning and public policy.

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Deadline for Applications

The Center holds one round of competitive selection per year. Fellowship applications must be postmarked or submitted online by October 1. Applicants are notified of the results of the selection process in March of the following year.

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Instructions for Applicants

The Application

Applicants may submit their applications online at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/fellowshipapplication or by mail.

If submitted by mail, a complete application must include the following:

  1. the two-page, single-sided Fellowship Application Form; (we strongly recommend typing the application form.
  2. a current CV (not to exceed three pages); The Center will only accept the first three pages; please list your publications separately.
  3. a list of your publications that includes exact titles, names of publishers, dates of publication and status of forthcoming publications (not to exceed three pages);
  4. a Project Proposal (not to exceed five single-spaced typed pages, using 12-point type); The Center reserves the right to omit from review applications that are longer than the requested page length;
  5. a bibliography for the project that includes primary sources and relevant secondary sources (not to exceed three pages);
  6. the one-page Financial Information Form.

All application materials must be submitted in English. Applications submitted via fax machine will not be considered.

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The Project Proposal

It is essential to make your project clear to individuals outside your own field and to explain its broader implications. The following elements should be addressed in the proposal:

  1. a detailed description of the topic and its importance;
  2. the originality of the proposed study (explain what makes the project distinctive);
  3. the basic ideas and hypotheses;
  4. the methodology to be used (including the activities you will undertake to gather the data you need for your project and the techniques that you will use to analyze the data in order to prove your thesis);
  5. the present status of your research, including how much has already been done in relevant collections and archives, and what you would hope to accomplish at the Center;
  6. the materials that will be used, the importance of Washington-area resources, and the need for residency at the Center;
  7. the relevance of the project to contemporary policy issues; and
  8. the relevance of the project to the programmatic goals of the Center.

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Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of reference must be submitted online by October 9 or postmarked by October 1. If you are submitting online, please ensure that you submit the correct email address for your referees. It is your responsibility to ensure that we receive your references letters. Applications missing reference letters will be considered incomplete. Your referees should be familiar with you and your work, and you should send them a copy of your project description so that they can comment specifically upon your proposed study, your qualifications for undertaking it, and how you and/or your work would contribute to the Center’s goal of bridging the gap between the world of learning and the world of public affairs. The letters should follow the guidelines for referees outlined in the Reference Letter Form. Reference letters must be written in English. Do not send letters written for another purpose, such as those for a job application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to follow up with their referees to confirm that they have sent their letters to the Center. To expedite the process, applicants are encouraged to include their reference letters with their application.

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Application Checklist

  • The application:
    1. the two-page, single-sided Fellowship Application Form
    2. a current cv (not to exceed three pages)
    3. a list of your publications (not to exceed three pages)
    4. a Project Proposal (not to exceed five single-spaced pages, using 12-point type)
    5. a bibliography for the project that includes primary sources and relevant secondary sources (not to exceed three pages)
  • 6. the one-page Financial Information Form
  • 7. two reference letters, to be submitted directly to the Center by the referees or mailed with the application.

Applicants who would like suggestions on preparing the proposal can read our "Frequently Asked Questions" and/or "Helpful Hints." You may also click on "The Art of Writing Proposals," published by the Social Science Research Council.

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Other Program-Specific Grant Opportunities at the Center

Apart from the Wilson Center Fellowships competition, a number of the Center's regional programs offer grants to eligible scholars. Read about those programs.

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