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Terms of Appointment - Dissertation Fellowships

The goals of the Ford Foundation Fellowships are to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

The Ford Foundation Fellowships at the dissertation level are intended to identify and facilitate the academic, intellectual, and professional development of individuals who have demonstrated superior scholarship, 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.

Dissertation fellowships are intended for Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree candidates studying in an eligible research-based discipline in the behavioral and social sciences, the humanities, engineering, mathematics, the physical sciences, or the life sciences. Eligibility is limited to Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree candidates who have finished all required course work, have been admitted to degree candidacy, and expect to complete the dissertation during the academic year for which the award is made.

Conditions of Awards

By accepting this award, individuals are affirming that their career goals include teaching and research at the college or university level.

By accepting this award, Fellows are confirming that they are pursuing a Ph.D. or Sc.D. at an accredited nonprofit United States institution of higher learning offering Ph.D.s or Sc.D.s in a field eligible for support in this program.

Prior to starting fellowship tenure, Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellows must submit a letter from the dissertation adviser affirming that the Fellow is in good standing with the institution and that the dissertation work being undertaken with Ford Foundation support will occur with the adviser’s collaboration and oversight. This letter should be uploaded to the Ford Fellows web module or may be sent electronically to

Dissertation Fellows must be enrolled in a full-time program leading to a Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree in an eligible field of study. Funds received are contingent upon the Dissertation Fellow adhering to the Proposed Plan for Completion of the Dissertation. Funds not used for this purpose must be returned to the Fellowships Office.

If enrollment is temporarily suspended, terminated, or if the Fellow is no longer enrolled full-time in the degree program, or if the Fellow graduates prior to the end of their fellowship year, funds received after the date of suspension, termination, or graduation must be returned to the Fellowships Office.

Acceptance of the fellowship affirms that the information contained in the fellowship application and supporting documents is true and accurate to the best of the individual’s knowledge.

Fellows are expected to conform to all institutional and departmental policies and procedures, as well as any student code of conduct.

Major Changes

Major changes in the research or study plans or a change of fellowship institution require prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Fellowships Office. Failure to notify the Fellowships Office of an intended change may result in the forfeiture of the fellowship. Requests for approval regarding major changes must be sent in writing to

Funds received are contingent upon the Dissertation Fellow adhering to the Proposed Plan for Completion of the Dissertation. Funds not used for this purpose must be returned to the Fellowships Office.

Tenure and Stipend

Tenure and stipend information is entered when a Fellow accepts the Ford Foundation Fellowship award. The information entered can be changed up until the 15th day of the month prior to the start date (e.g., August 15 for a September 1 start). To change tenure and stipend information, contact

Tenure: Dissertation Fellows enrolled in a doctoral degree program for the academic year, including the summer, have the option of selecting a 9- or 12-month stipend disbursement with a September 1 start date or a 12-month duration with a June 1 start date. Fellows enrolled in Fall and Spring only should select a 9-month stipend disbursement (September 1 start).

Stipend: Dissertation Fellows receive a stipend of $28,000, to be paid directly to the Fellow in monthly installments by the Fellowships Office. Fellows have the option of selecting a 9- or 12-month stipend disbursement with a September 1 start date or a 12-month duration with a June 1 start date. Fellows enrolled in Fall and Spring only should select a 9-month stipend disbursement (September 1 start). The stipend may be disbursed through the Fellow's institution in special cases when disbursement arrangements by the institution are in the best interest of the Fellow.

In cases where the institution disburses the fellowship funds, stipends must be distributed to the Fellow in full within the Fellow's stated tenure period. Institutions must return to the Fellowships Office any funds that remain after the tenure period has concluded.

There is no dependency allowance, institutional grant, or travel allowance provided as part of the dissertation fellowship award.

Concurrent Fellowships

Fellows receiving support from multiple sources are urged to discuss the terms of the funding with all funding agencies, including the Fellowships Office, and their university. A Ford Foundation Fellow may not accept a stipend from another major fellowship, internship, or similar internal and external awards while on Ford Foundation Fellowship tenure; however, limited supplementation from other sources may be received concurrently with Ford Foundation support. Supplementation of the Ford stipend should be limited to funds that increase the overall stipend to the equivalent of a standard assistantship salary at the department or institution.


Ford Fellows at the dissertation level are expected to spend the majority of their time during their fellowship year working on the writing and defense of their dissertation.

Participation in full-time paid or unpaid internships or other full-time paid activities, even if required for degree completion, cannot be undertaken during the fellowship year. Ford Fellows are permitted to accept part-time/half-time teaching or research assistantships if 1) it is required by the program, 2) if it is necessary to secure stipend supplementation, benefits, or tuition waivers, or 3) if it is beneficial to the Fellow’s career development. However, the compensation associated with the assistantship position must be limited to supplementation of the Ford stipend up to a standard assistantship salary at the department or institution, rather than a separate, full-time stipend in addition to the Ford. If the position carries a full-time stipend, Fellows are not permitted to accept the assistantship.

Leave of Absence

A Ford Fellow may need to request a "leave of absence" from the Fellowship for personal or family medical events that prevent the Fellow from pursuing their program of study. During an approved leave of absence, and at the request of the Fellow, the fellowship stipend may be continued for a period of up to six weeks from the beginning of the medical event. For any additional time required away from the fellowship, stipend payments will be suspended until the Fellow is able to resume their program of study. Fellows requesting a paid or unpaid leave of absence must contact Reinstatement or continuation of stipend payments after the leave period concludes is contingent upon the Fellow providing documentation of enrollment in their Ph.D. or Sc.D. program to the Fellowships Office.

Health Insurance

No health insurance is provided through the fellowship grant.


A Ford Foundation Fellowship award is considered income from a non-compensatory fellowship or scholarship. The Fellowships Office is not required to report payments on IRS Form W-2 or 1099-MISC and will not send Fellows an official tax form. Fellows should contact a tax professional or a local Internal Revenue Service office to determine their individual tax liability.

Reporting Requirements

Fellows are required to submit two progress reports during the tenure year; a mid-year progress report at the end of the fall semester, and a final report at the end of the tenure year. Fellows are encouraged to contact the Fellowships Office before submitting a mid-year report if they encounter any difficulties at the fellowship institution or in receiving fellowship funds. Failure to submit required reports may result in stipend payment suspension until the requirements are fulfilled.

Fellows are required to maintain up-to-date contact information in the online Fellows module during and after the term of their fellowship to allow the Ford Foundation to track progress and facilitate professional interaction, enrichment, and participation among Fellows. In addition, Fellows may be asked to complete periodic surveys that assist the Ford Foundation in evaluating the effectiveness of this program.

Conference of Ford Fellows

The Conference of Ford Fellows brings together newly awarded predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral Fellows, along with a group of past Fellows who plan and lead the Conference. The Conference provides opportunities for an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and opportunities to identify mentors and peers from across the country. The Fellowships Office also invites representatives from a selection of university and commercial publishers as well as from other funding sources.

New Fellows will be invited to attend the Conference of Ford Fellows in the fall of their award year. Pending the availability of funds, support may be provided for a second annual Conference the following year. The Ford Foundation will cover domestic travel, hotel accommodations, and other travel expenses.

Regional Liaisons

Regional Liaisons, who are past Ford Fellows, volunteer to serve as sounding boards and senior mentors to Fellows. For contact information, visit the Regional Liaisons webpage. In particular, new Fellows are encouraged to avail themselves of this valuable resource.


Neither the Fellowships Office nor the Ford Foundation assumes any liability or responsibility whatsoever for the payment of any compensation with regard to a Fellow's possible involvement in any accident or incident causing injury to other persons or damage to property.

Neither the Fellowships Office nor the Ford Foundation assumes any responsibility to the Fellow or their dependents for any compensation for injury, disability, or death of the Fellow during the tenure of the fellowship or travel to and from the fellowship institution.

Program and Award Administration

The Fellowships Office administers the program and follows the progress of Fellows' work. Inquiries concerning all aspects of program and award administration should be directed to:

The Fellowships Office

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street, N.W., Keck 576
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: (202) 334 2860