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    ACLS Fellows Candacy Taylor, Ellen Muehlberger, and Lina Verchery presented their research at the 2017 ACLS Annual Meeting.

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  • Buddha

    The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies is a global competition. 

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies

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Please select from the questions below.

General Questions

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Q: Can I find more information about the application without having to log in?

Q: Do all five competitions use the Online Fellowship Application (OFA) system?

Q: What kind of work gets funded? Are there some types of projects ACLS does not fund?

Q: May I apply for more than one ACLS fellowship in the same competition year?

Q: May I apply at the same time for an ACLS fellowship and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Innovative Buddhist-focused Initiatives Grant?

Q: Does the initiative offer scholarships for MA programs in Buddhist studies?

Q: Does spelling, grammar, and punctuation count?

Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

Q: I will obtain ABD (All But Dissertation) status shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for this fellowship?

Q: I am enrolled at a university outside the United States that does not have the ABD system. I am in my first year of the PhD program. Am I eligible to apply?

Q: If I receive a fellowship, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

Q: I am a master’s student in Buddhist studies. Does the program offer scholarships for MA studies?

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Q: May I use the award for writing up research that I have already done or for a combination of writing and follow-up research during the fellowship tenure?

Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Q: May I apply if I do not hold the PhD degree but have the equivalent in scholarly publications?

Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

Q: Does the host institution proposed for the two-year residency have to be in the United States?

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Q: May the proposed final scholarly product be a journal article (or a series of articles)?

Postdoctoral Fellowships—Host-Institution Questions

Q: What are the responsibilities of the institution hosting a Postdoctoral Fellow?

Q: Who should write the letter of support?

Q: May a university host a scholar whose research focuses on Buddhist contemplation in various applied forms, education, health, law, etc.? May the university host a scholar who does not necessarily know the languages and is not primarily focused on Asia, but who is looking at how contemplative practices derived from Buddhism can impact upon professional training, development, etc.?

Q: May the university host a fellow as part of a group of scholars collaborating on an ongoing project in Buddhist studies?

Q: May a university offer letters of institutional support to several postdoctoral applicants?

Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Research fellowships

Q: A condition of award is leave (release from teaching) for two semesters May I take leave for two non-consecutive semesters?

Q: May I apply for both a Research Fellowship and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies?

Q: If I apply for both the Postdoctoral and Research fellowships may I request reference letters from the same scholars for both competitions?

Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Q: May I use the award for writing up research that I have already done or for a combination of writing and follow-up research during the fellowship tenure?

Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Q: May I apply if I do not hold the PhD degree but have the equivalent in scholarly publications?

Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Q: May the proposed final scholarly product be a journal article (or a series of articles)?

New Professorships

Q: Can The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Grant be combined with a grant from another Foundation to support the three years of the teaching position?

Q: What courses can the new professorship offer?

Q: We are an institution applying for a New Professorship grant and we do not have a tenure-track system. How can we express in our application the required commitment “to maintain the seeded position as a permanent, tenure-track post after the expiration of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation funding?”

The Online Application Process

Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?

Q: I might receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain nor the exact amount. What should I fill in on the application form?

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article (or book) accepted for publication or was invited to a conference. May I send the information to ACLS to have it added to my publications page?

Reference Letters

Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Q: What should I do if one of my referees does not send in the letter s/he agreed to?

Q: May I submit my reference letters through a dossier service such as Interfolio?

The Review Process

Q: Who will evaluate my proposal?

Successful Proposals

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the ACLS fellowship competitions? Do you have examples of successful proposals?


General Questions

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A:The program is multidisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/ Religious Studies.

Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss how your project will have an impact on the field of Buddhist studies.

Q: Can I find more information about the application without having to log in?

A: On the program’s page you can find sample applications.

Q: Do all five competitions use the Online Fellowship Application (OFA) system?

A: Yes. Completed applications must be submitted through the ACLS online fellowship and grant administration system (ofa.acls.org) by the deadline specified for each competition.

Q: What kind of work gets funded? Are there some types of projects ACLS does not fund?

A: ACLS supports academic research in the humanities and related social sciences. The ultimate goal of the project should be a major piece of scholarly work by the applicant.

ACLS does not fund creative work or the performing arts (e.g., novels, films, performance, or musical composition), nor does it fund textbooks or pedagogical projects.

Q: May I apply for more than one ACLS fellowship in the same competition year?

A: Yes, an applicant for this program may also apply to as many fellowship programs as are suitable, with the exception of the ACLS Public Fellows program. However, not more than one ACLS or ACLS-joint award may be accepted in any one competition year.

Q: May I apply at the same time for an ACLS fellowship and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Innovative Buddhist-focused Initiatives Grant?

A: An applicant may apply to several competitions, ACLS fellowships or others.

However, it is only possible to ACCEPT one award during the same period. We presume our awardees will work full time during the award period on the project for which they applied.

There are some minor exceptions. A complementary award (e.g., for travel to a conference) may be accepted if it does not take time away from the project proposed or otherwise interfere with its completion.

All awardees in the four Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation competitions will be required to inform ACLS of any other awards they might be offered.

Q: Does the initiative offer scholarships for MA programs in Buddhist studies?

A: No. The program offers fellowships and grants for dissertation and postdoctoral research. The program does not offer scholarships for MA students.

Q: Does spelling, grammar, and punctuation count?

A: Yes! Please make sure that you use spell check on all your submitted texts and documents. Please review your submission several times for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Ideally, ask a colleague to proofread.

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Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Q: I will obtain ABD (All But Dissertation) status shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for this fellowship?

A: Yes you may apply. An applicant must have completed all requirements for the PhD degree except research and/or writing of the dissertation by April 15, 2018.


Q: I am enrolled at a university outside the United States that does not have the ABD system. I am in my first year of the PhD program. Am I eligible to apply?

A: An applicant for a dissertation fellowship must have finished all courses, passed all required examinations, and have his/her research prospectus approved by April 15, 2018. To be eligible in the first year an applicant must be at the research and/or writing stage of the PhD.


Q: If I receive a fellowship, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. However, we can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. In that case, the institution may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. See Information for Institutional Administrators.


Q: I am a master’s student in Buddhist studies. Does the program offer scholarships for MA studies?

A: No. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies offers fellowships and grants for dissertation and postdoctoral research and writing. The program does not offer scholarships for MA students.

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/ Religious Studies.

Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. You should state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss how your project will have an impact on the field of Buddhist studies.

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Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

A: Yes, you may apply for this year’s competition.  Your PhD degree must be completed by April 15, 2018 (including defense/deposit and revisions) and conferred by May 31, 2018. (If the date of completion or conferral is after the application deadline, the application must include an institutional statement attesting that all requirements for the PhD will be fulfilled by the dates specified).

Q: May I use the award for writing up research that I have already done or for a combination of writing and follow-up research during the fellowship tenure?

A: Yes, the award may be used for writing. Follow-up research during writing is also permitted.

Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

A: You may apply as long as you meet all the program’s eligibility requirements, which include a PhD conferred no earlier than January 1, 2014.

Q: May I apply if I do not hold the PhD degree but have the equivalent in scholarly publications?

A: No, you may not. An equivalent of a PhD does not qualify because this fellowship is limited to recent PhD recipients (no earlier than January 1, 2014).

Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. However, we can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. In that case, the institution may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. See Information for Institutional Administrators.

Q: Does the host institution proposed for the two-year residency have to be in the United States?

A: No. There are no restrictions of the proposed host’s location. The fellowship-in-residence may be proposed at any university except at the institution granting the applicant’s PhD or the institution of current employment.

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is interdisciplinary. It is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/ Religious Studies.

Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss how your project will have an impact on the field of Buddhist studies.

Q: May the proposed final scholarly product be a journal article (or a series of articles)?

A: The ultimate outcome is a written, scholarly product. Whether it is a book or set of articles is less significant than the intrinsic interest of the substance of the project.

The essay should describe the work to be done during the fellowship period – research, thinking, writing. If this work is part of a longer project that will continue after the fellowship, the application essay should explain how the fellowship period will contribute to the completion of the work.

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Postdoctoral Fellowships—Host Institutions Questions


Q: What are the responsibilities of the institution hosting a Postdoctoral Fellow?

Applicants should request a letter of support from the host institution at which they plan to spend the two-year fellowship period. This letter must be included by the applicant along with other application materials.

The host institution should describe in its support letter the resources offered to the fellow: office space, library access, etc. The fellowship provides an annual stipend for the fellow, which includes the fellow’s salary for teaching a course at the host institution (no other compensation is allowed). The fellowship will also cover health insurance, if not provided by the institution. Questions concerning financial details may be addressed to BuddhistStudies@acls.org.

Q: Who should write the letter of support?

A: The letter of support should be written by an institutional representative (chair or dean) who assumes responsibility for hosting the Postdoctoral Fellow and who has the authority to deliver the promised support.

The letter should state the contribution that the applicant's residence at the university will make to its research and/or teaching in Buddhist studies.

Q: May a university host a scholar whose research focuses on Buddhist contemplation in various applied forms, education, health, law, etc.? May the university host a scholar who does not necessarily know the languages and is not primarily focused on Asia, but who is looking at how contemplative practices derived from Buddhism can impact upon professional training, development, etc.?

A: The program supports basic research in Buddhist studies. However, we interpret Buddhist studies broadly. Applicants from Schools of Education, Law, Medicine, etc. are therefore not automatically excluded, but they must make the case that they propose basic research that will make an impact on Buddhist studies. If an applicant does not know the relevant languages and is not interested in Asian traditions of Buddhism, it would be very difficult to make the case that the work proposed is basic research in Buddhist studies.

Applied research in professional schools, clinical practice, etc., is not eligible.

The Robert H. N. Ho Foundation offers grants on its web site that applicants proposing applied research might consider:

Innovative Buddhist-focused Initiatives Grants, supporting new innovative initiatives aimed at removing barriers between scholarly research on Buddhism and its practical application. We seek ambitious, high-impact initiatives that underscore the relevance of Buddhism for a new generation of scholars and educators, artists, and writers—from various fields who are invested in making Buddhism accessible and useful in everyday life. How might Buddhist ideas open up dialogue, bringing fresh insight to individuals and new approaches to disciplines less familiar with this ancient philosophy? The projects we consider for funding do not follow a prescribed form. We seek research-based, highly original projects that can enhance public awareness, understanding and appreciation of Buddhism in everyday life.”

Q: May the university host a fellow as part of a group of scholars collaborating on an ongoing project in Buddhist studies?

A: An applicant for a postdoctoral fellowship who simply wants to participate in a group in which others study Buddhism would not be competitive. However, if the applicant’s role in the group is significant, being part of a larger group is no hindrance.

Q: May a university offer letters of institutional support to several Postdoctoral applicants?

A: Yes. However, institutions may decline to provide letters of support to those applicants who are not a good fit for their curricular and research profiles, or for the university’s capacity to provide office space and other support.

The selection committee will make its decisions based on all the information provided. This will certainly include the preferences and plans of the host institutions. Making preferences and plans clear is an important function of the letter of support.



Research fellowships


Q: A condition of award is leave (release from teaching) for two semesters. May I take leave for two non-consecutive semesters?

A: Yes, the fellowship tenure may be divided in two periods, each of which must last for a minimum of three months. These two periods do not have to be consecutive.


Q: May I apply for both a Research Fellowship and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies?

A: Yes. You may apply to both competitions. However, if awarded both you may accept only one.


Q: If I apply for both the Postdoctoral and Research fellowships may I request reference letters from the same scholars for both competitions?

A: Yes. You may request recommendation letters from the same scholars for both competitions.

However, please note that you will have to enter their names and email addresses separately for each competition.

Furthermore, the two fellowships are different. Each competition asks for specific information in the reference letter. Your referees should write two separate letters following the instruction from ACLS.


Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

A: You may not apply for this year’s competition. To be eligible, you must have completed your PhD degree (including defense and revisions) by the application deadline.


Q: May I use the award for writing up research that I have already done or for a combination of writing and follow-up research during the fellowship tenure?

A: Yes, the award may be used for writing. Follow-up research during writing is also permitted.


Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

A: You may apply as long as you meet all the program’s eligibility requirements.


Q: May I apply if I do not hold the PhD degree but have the equivalent in scholarly publications?

A: Yes, you may. Please make sure that you describe your situation in the application.


Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. However, we can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. In that case, the institution may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. See Information for Institutional Administrators.


Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is interdisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/ Religious Studies. Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss how your project will have an impact on the field of Buddhist studies.


Q: May the proposed final scholarly product be a journal article (or a series of articles)?

A: The ultimate outcome is a written, scholarly product. Whether it is a book or set of articles is less significant than the intrinsic interest of the substance of the project.

The essay should describe the work to be done during the fellowship period – research, thinking, writing. If this work is part of a longer project, that, too, should be addressed in the application essay – how will the fellowship period contribute to the completion of the work.

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Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations


Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is interdisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/ Religious Studies.

Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss the impact of your project on the field of Buddhist studies.

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New Professorships


Q: Can The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Grant be combined with a grant from another Foundation to support the 3 years of the teaching position?

A: No. The funds awarded may not be used to supplement an already existing endowment or teaching position.


Q: What courses can the new professorship offer?

A: The professor hired in this position must teach courses in Buddhist studies. In addition, the professor could teach courses that compare Buddhist traditions to other religions of Asia and/or Christianity. This is not a position for a generalist in Asian religions who would introduce Buddhism. It is for a scholar in Buddhist studies.


Q: We are an institution applying for a New Professorship grant and we do not have a tenure-track system. How can we express in our application the required commitment “to maintain the seeded position as a permanent, tenure-track post after the expiration of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation funding?”

A: At institutions without a tenure-track system, the applicant must commit to continuing the position for a substantial period after the expiration of grant funding and must provide a description of how this commitment fits its contractual practices.


The Online Application Process


Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?

A: No, you will need to start over with a new online application.

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?

A: This will vary, depending on how much work you have prepared before you begin the application process. Simply filling in the form will probably take at least an hour or two. In addition, you will need to submit your proposal and supporting documents. You will also need to secure referees to write letters in support of your application.

You should start the process before the deadline to get a sense of what is required and to start preparing your materials.

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?

A: No, you may work on it in multiple sessions, though you will need to save your work after you finish each section of the application. Once you have submitted the application, you cannot work on it again.

Q: I might receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain nor the exact amount. What should I fill in on the application form?

A: You may estimate the amount you expect to receive, or fill in nothing. You can enter this amount in the section asking you to list other major funding sources to which you ARE APPLYING for your present research proposal. Should you be offered a fellowship, you will need to inform ACLS and state a specific amount for any other funding you receive during the fellowship period.

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article (or book) accepted for publication or was invited to a conference. May I send the information to ACLS to have it added to my publications page?

A: No. Your application will be evaluated as submitted.

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Reference Letters


Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

A: Your main priority should be to secure letters from referees who can write strong, specific letters on your behalf, preferably those who can comment on the proposed project. Reviewers sometimes have concerns about letters from colleagues in their departments, and often prefer "arm's length" letters from scholars who can attest to the significance of their work in the field.

It is good to be able to show that you have made a contribution to the field, not merely in the department or institution at which you are employed or did your graduate work. Think carefully about who can write the best letters.

Applicants at early career stages will rely more on dissertation advisors as advocates. In any case, you will want your referees to be established scholars.

Q: What should I do if one of my referees does not send in the letter s/he agreed to?

A: You can check online to see if your references have been submitted. If one or more of your letters has not been submitted by the deadline, you may wish to contact the letter writers. If one of your designated referees cannot write the letter, you can ask someone else to write for you and submit the appropriate information on your reference form. However, please note that once the required number of letters has been submitted for your application (regardless of which of your referees submits them), no more will be accepted. Think carefully, then, before requesting replacement letters. You would not want to put a referee in the position of writing a letter for you and then not being able to submit it.

Q: May I submit my reference letters through a dossier service such as Interfolio?

A: No, you may not. We do not accept letters from dossier services. Your reference letters must be submitted through the ACLS online fellowship and grant administration system (ofa.acls.org) by your referees.

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The Review Process


Q: Who will evaluate my proposal?

A: Proposals are read by an international panel of experts in Buddhist Studies from a variety of disciplines in the humanities and related social sciences.

Successful Proposals

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the ACLS fellowship competitions? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

A: The projects that are ultimately selected vary widely. There is no one model to follow for a successful application and we do not provide examples of proposals that receive funding. You might benefit from asking an ACLS fellow whom you know to show you her or his proposal and from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis.

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