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2016 Ford Foundation
Fellowship Programs
competition is NOW OPEN and accepting applications.

2016 Predoctoral application deadline:
November 20, 2015
(5:00 PM EST)

2016 Dissertation and Postdoctoral application deadlines:
November 13, 2015

(5:00 PM EST)

Supplementary Materials receipt deadline (all levels):
January 8, 2016
(5:00 PM EST)  




The 2016 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship competition is NOW OPEN and accepting applications. 

This year the program will award approximately 36 dissertation fellowships. The dissertation fellowships provide one year of support for individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree. The Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship is intended to support the final year of writing and defense of the dissertation.

Dissertation fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The awards will be made to individuals who, in the judgment of the review panels, have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. 

Click on the links below to learn more about each aspect of the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship


Dissertation Eligibility

In addition to the other dissertation program level requirements, eligibility to apply for a dissertation fellowship is limited to:

  • All citizens, nationals, and permanent residents (holders of a Permanent Resident Card) of the United States, as well as individuals granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, regardless of race, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation,
  • Individuals with evidence of superior academic achievement (such as grade point average, class rank, honors, or other designations),
  • Individuals committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level,
  • Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree candidates studying in an eligible research-based discipline in a dissertation-required program at a non-proprietary (not for profit) U.S. institution of higher education who will complete the dissertation during the 2016-2017 academic year, but no later than fall 2017, and
  • Individuals who have not earned a doctoral degree at any time, in any field.
Receipt of the fellowship award is conditioned upon each awardee providing satisfactory documentation that he or she meets the eligibility requirements.

Criteria for Selection

The following will be considered as positive factors in choosing successful candidates:
  • Evidence of superior academic achievement
  • Degree of promise of continuing achievement as scholars and teachers
  • Capacity to respond in pedagogically productive ways to the learning needs of students from diverse backgrounds
  • Sustained personal engagement with communities that are underrepresented in the academy and an ability to bring this asset to learning, teaching, and scholarship at the college and university level
  • Likelihood of using the diversity of human experience as an educational resource in teaching and scholarship
  • Membership in one or more of the following groups whose underrepresentation in the American professoriate has been severe and longstanding:
    • Alaska Natives (Aleut, Eskimo, or other Indigenous People of Alaska)
    • Black/African Americans
    • Mexican Americans/Chicanas/Chicanos
    • Native American Indians
    • Native Pacific Islanders (Hawaiian/Polynesian/Micronesian)
    • Puerto Ricans

Applications will be evaluated by panels of distinguished scholars selected by the Academies. The panels will use academic records, essays, letters of recommendation, the application itself, and other appropriate materials as the basis for determining the extent to which candidates meet the eligibility requirements and the selection criteria. Review panels may also look at additional factors such as whether the applicant has advanced to dissertation candidacy and will fully utilize 9 to 12 months of fellowship support prior to receiving the Ph.D. or Sc.D.

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Eligible Fields of Study

Awards will be made for study in research-based Ph.D. or Sc.D. programs that include the following major disciplines and related interdisciplinary fields: American studies, anthropology, archaeology, art and theater history, astronomy, chemistry, communications, computer science, cultural studies, earth sciences, economics, education, engineering, ethnic studies, ethnomusicology, geography, history, international relations, language, life sciences, linguistics, literature, mathematics, performance study, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, sociology, urban planning, and women’s studies. Also eligible are interdisciplinary ethnic studies programs, such as African American studies and Native American studies, and other interdisciplinary programs, such as area studies, peace studies, and social justice. Research-based fields of education are eligible if the major field of study is listed above and is used to describe the Ph.D. or Sc.D. program of the applicant (e.g., sociology of education, anthropology and education).

The complete list of eligible fields of study supported at the dissertation level of the fellowship program is available here: Eligible Fields of Study List.

Individuals enrolled in the following practice-oriented programs will not be supported: administration, audiology, business, consumer studies, curriculum development, education policy, human resource management, exercise physiology, filmmaking, fine arts, guidance, kinesiology, leadership, library and information science, management, nursing, occupational health, performing arts, personnel, physical education, physical therapy, public health, rehabilitation science, social welfare, social work, speech pathology, and teacher education. In addition, awards will not be made for work leading to terminal master’s degrees, the Ed.D. degree, the degrees of Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), or professional degrees in such areas as medicine, law, and public health, or for study in joint degree programs such as the M.D./Ph.D., J.D./Ph.D., and M.F.A./Ph.D. This program does not support the Ph.D. portion of a dual-degree program. Interdisciplinary areas of study that have major content in ineligible fields listed above will not be included in the competition. 

Fellowship Institution

Fellowships are tenable at any fully accredited, non-proprietary (not for profit) U.S. institution of higher education offering a Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree in the eligible fields of study. 

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Verification of Doctoral Degree Status

  • In order to compete, applicants must have successfully achieved doctoral degree candidacy as defined by this program: applicants must have completed all departmental and institutional requirements for their degree, except for writing and defense of the dissertation. These requirements include, for example, required course work, language requirements, admission to doctoral candidacy, and approval of the dissertation proposal. A valid Academies Verification of Doctoral Degree Status Form, signed by the adviser or other authorized official, must be uploaded to the online fellowship application before 5:00 PM ET on January 8, 2016 to confirm that an applicant has advanced to doctoral candidacy. 
  • Applicants should expect to complete the dissertation during the 2016-2017 academic year, but no later than fall 2017.

Stipend and Benefits


The tenure of a dissertation fellowship will be no less than 9 months and no more than 12 months, with tenure beginning no earlier than June 1, 2016 and no later than September 1, 2016.

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Conditions of the Fellowship

Dissertation fellows are expected to be engaged in a full-time program leading to a Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree in an eligible field of study. Those who accept a dissertation fellowship must agree to the stipulations in the Terms of Appointment for Ford Foundation Fellows that accompanies the award notification. In addition, Ford Fellows must agree to participate in regular updates of the Directory of Ford Fellows, as well as periodic surveys designed to demonstrate the impact of this program.

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Continue to Dissertation Application Instructions 

 Back to How to Apply