DISSERTATION FACT SHEET
This competition 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 in the U.S., 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
Eligibility to apply for a dissertation fellowship is limited to:
- All U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. permanent residents (holders of a Permanent Resident Card); individuals granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program;1 Indigenous individuals exercising rights associated with the Jay Treaty of 1794; individuals granted Temporary Protected Status; political asylees; and refugees, 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 in the U.S.;
- 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 in a period of 9-12 months during the 2021-2022 academic year;
- Individuals who, by December 10, 2020, have completed all departmental and institutional requirements for their degree, except for writing and defense of the dissertation; and
- Individuals who have not earned a doctoral degree at any time, in any field.
1Eligibility includes individuals with current status under the DACA Program, as well as individuals whose status may have lapsed but who continue to meet all the USCIS guidelines for DACA.
Receipt of the fellowship award is conditioned upon each awardee providing satisfactory documentation that they meet all the eligibility requirements.
Positive Factors 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 National 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 positive factors for selection. 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. Examples include: 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).
A list of eligible fields of study supported is available here: Eligible Fields of Study List.
Individuals enrolled in the following programs will not be supported unless the applicant can document that the program of study is research-based, requiring a dissertation, and the applicant plans to follow a career in teaching and research in academia: administration, audiology, business, consumer studies, curriculum development, exercise physiology, filmmaking, fine arts, guidance, human resource management, 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 joint/concurrent/articulated program.
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 an eligible field of study.
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Verification of Doctoral Degree Status
- Applicants must have completed all departmental and institutional requirements for their degree, except for writing and defense of the dissertation, by the application deadline. These requirements include, for example, required course work, language requirements, and admission to doctoral candidacy. The National Academies' Verification of Doctoral Degree Status Form, signed by the graduate Adviser or department Chair, must be uploaded to the online fellowship application before 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 7, 2021.
- Applicants should expect to complete the dissertation during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Stipend and Benefits
Each Fellow is expected to begin tenure on June 1 (for 12 months) or September 1 (for 9 or 12 months) of the year in which the award is received. Dissertation fellowships may not be deferred or delayed.
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Conditions of the Fellowship
Dissertation Fellows are expected to be enrolled in a full-time program leading to a Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree in an eligible field of study. Dissertation awards are intended to support Fellows who will be spending the majority of their time writing and defending the dissertation during the fellowship year. Participation in full-time paid or unpaid internships or other paid activities, even if required for degree completion, cannot be undertaken during the fellowship year.
Those who accept a dissertation fellowship must agree to the stipulations in the Terms of Appointment for Ford Foundation Fellows that accompany 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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