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Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships FAQ

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Updated July 6, 2018

Eligibility

Q: What kind of projects does this program fund? Are there some types of projects this fellowship program does not fund?

Q: What kinds of curricular and pedagogical projects does this program fund?

Q: Does this program fund collaborative projects?

Q: May I apply to more than one ACLS fellowship or grant program in the same competition year?

Q: May I apply if I have an MS in an eligible social science field?

Q: May I apply if I have an EdD?

Q: May I apply if I have an MFA? Does this program support creative projects?

Q: May I apply if my MA/PhD is not in one of the humanities or social science fields listed, but I teach humanities courses and I am applying for a project in the humanities or social sciences?

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible?

Q: My institution grants both associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees. Am I eligible to apply?

Q: Do I have to have a full-time and/or tenure-track appointment at a community college to be eligible?

Q: What is meant by the eligibility criterion that applicants must “be employed primarily” as community college instructors?

Q: Can the fellowship be deferred to the following year? Can it be postponed if my plans change?

Online fellowship 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. What is the application deadline for the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship program?

Q: After submitting my proposal, I would like to update my application. May new information be added to my application after I have submitted it?

Q: How can I make sure I receive notification about my application or that I receive responses to queries using the “OFA Help” link within the online fellowship and grant administration (OFA) portal? How can I make sure that my letter writers receive ACLS’s email?

Application requirements

Q: What should go in the proposal narrative?

Q: How should I format the budget and what should it include?

Q: How should I format the project timeline and what should it include?

Q: How should I format the bibliography and what should it include?

Reference letters and institutional certification

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

Q: Do all my reference letters have to be in the system before I submit my application?

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

Q: Does ACLS accept reference letters from Interfolio or university-based dossier services?

Q: Whom should I ask to fill out my institutional certification? Can the individual who completes the institutional certification be the same as one of my reference letter writers?

Review process

Q: Who is reading my proposal?

Q: Since my application will be read by peer reviewers in a range of fields, how should I pitch my proposal?

Q: How much of the proposal should be devoted to explaining methodology, the project's significance, theoretical framework, work plan, etc.?

Q: I plan to use the full $40,000 stipend as salary replacement. What should I say in my budget?

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship competition? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

Q: Can I receive reviewer comments on my application?

Stipend

Q: If I receive this fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of my receiving the funds directly?

Q: The fellowship guidelines state, “In some cases, a limited portion of the funds may go to a fellow’s institution to cover administrative costs associated with the project.” What is meant by that?

Eligibility


Q: What kind of projects does this program fund? Are there some types of projects this fellowship program does not fund?
A: The Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships support research projects that address topics in the humanities or social sciences and/or teaching and learning in those disciplines. In order for social science applications to be eligible, they must employ predominantly humanistic approaches and qualitative/interpretive methodologies. The ultimate goal(s) of the project can include scholarly articles, book chapters, or a monograph; course plans; textbooks; exhibitions; community or campus events; online resources; etc. Competitive projects will include substantial original research.

This program does not fund creative work or the performing arts (e.g., novels, films, performance, or musical composition), nor social science research that involves predominantly quantitative and/or experimental methods.

Q: What kinds of curricular and pedagogical projects does this program fund?
A: This program funds both academic research that aims to make original contributions to knowledge within humanities fields and projects that engage in scholarly inquiry into student learning and the practice of teaching. If the project addresses teaching and learning, it must focus on a postsecondary context. Projects that focus on teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms are not eligible. Similarly, if the project outcomes are curricula, course plans, textbooks, or other teaching-related material, these must be for use in a higher education setting and not in K-12 classrooms.

Q: Does this program fund collaborative projects?
A: These fellowships fund an individual scholar, not a project. However, individuals may apply to complete a portion of a collaborative project, as long as the applicant’s role in the project is distinct and clearly laid out in the proposal.

Q: May I apply to more than one ACLS fellowship or grant program in the same competition year?
A: Yes, an applicant for this fellowship may also apply to as many fellowship and grant programs as are suitable. However, not more than one ACLS or ACLS-joint award may normally be accepted in any one competition year.

Q: May I apply if I have an MS in an eligible social science field?
A: Yes, you may apply if you have an MS in an eligible social science field.

Q: May I apply if I have an EdD?
A: A Doctor of Education degree is not on its own an eligible degree for this program. If you hold an EdD, you may still be eligible if you satisfy the following two criteria:

  1. most of the courses you teach are in the humanities or related social sciences, and
  2. your project employs predominantly humanistic approaches and contributes to the humanities or the humanistic social sciences.

If you feel that you satisfy these criteria, please email fellowships@acls.org with your name, institution, department, degree, a list of recent courses you have taught in the humanities and/or social sciences, and a brief description of your project.

Q: May I apply if I have an MFA? Does this program support creative projects?
A: A Master of Fine Arts is not on its own an eligible degree for this program, and this program does not support creative projects. However, if you hold an MFA, you may still be eligible if you satisfy the following two criteria:

  1. most of the courses you teach are in the humanities or related social sciences, and
  2. your project employs predominantly humanistic approaches and contributes to the humanities or the humanistic social sciences.

If you feel that you satisfy these criteria, please email fellowships@acls.org with your name, institution, department, degree, a list of recent courses you have taught in the humanities and/or social sciences, and a brief description of your project.

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Q: May I apply if my MA/PhD is not in one of the humanities or social science fields listed, but I teach humanities courses and I am applying for a project in the humanities or social sciences?
A: If you have an MA or PhD in a field other than those listed as eligible, you may still be eligible if you satisfy the following two criteria:

  1. most of the courses you teach are in the humanities or related social sciences, and
  2. your project employs predominantly humanistic approaches and contributes to the humanities or the humanistic social sciences.

If you feel that you satisfy these criteria, please email fellowships@acls.org with your name, institution, department, MA/PhD degree, a list of recent courses you have taught in the humanities and/or social sciences, and a brief description of your project.

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible?
A: You do not have to be a US citizen or a US permanent resident. However, you must be employed at a two-year associate’s degree-granting college located in the United States.

Q: My institution grants both associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees. Am I eligible to apply?
A: Yes, if your institution is designated as a Baccalaureate/Associate’s College according to the Carnegie Basic Classifications, you are eligible to apply.

Q: Do I have to have a full-time and/or tenure-track appointment at a community college to be eligible?
A: No, you do not have to have a full-time or tenure-track appointment to be eligible.

Q: What is meant by the eligibility criterion that applicants must “be employed primarily” as community college instructors?
A: Being “employed primarily” as a community college instructor means that your primary source of income is from teaching at a community college.

Q: Can the fellowship be deferred to the following year? Can it be postponed if my plans change?
A: A Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship cannot be deferred to the following academic year. Fellowship tenure is for a period of 18 consecutive months, from July 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020. Tenure must conclude by December 31, 2020.

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Online fellowship 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 an hour if not two, plus 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, as well as a senior administrator to complete the institutional statement. We highly recommend that you start the process several weeks before the deadline to get a sense of what is required and 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. What is the application deadline for the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship program?
A. The deadline to submit completed applications for this fellowship is 9 pm, Eastern Daylight Time, September 26, 2018.

Q: After submitting my proposal, I would like to update my application. May new information be added to my application after I have submitted it?
A: No, your application will be judged as it is at the time of submission.

Q: How can I make sure I receive notification about my application or that I receive responses to queries using the “OFA Help” link within the online fellowship and grant administration (OFA) portal? How can I make sure that my letter writers receive ACLS’s email?
A: Notifications and other correspondence are sent via email from “acls.org” addresses. In order to prevent ACLS emails from being blocked, we suggest that applicants and letter writers:

  1. Add the relevant ACLS email addresses (e.g., ofahelp@acls.org, fellowships@acls.org, mgoldfeder@acls.org, and references@acls.org for letter writers) to their address book or safe senders list.
  2. Check spam or junk mail folder for notifications and correspondence, if you are expecting them.
  3. In the event that you continue not to receive ACLS emails in either your inbox or spam/junk folder, it may be that your institution (“.edu”) or internet service provider (“.com” or “.net” email) is blocking these emails before they reach you. Please contact the appropriate personnel, e.g., your IT department, so that they may resolve the issue.

Application requirements


Q: What should go in the proposal narrative?
Your proposal narrative should be a concise statement describing your project. It should explain, briefly but specifically, what you plan to do and why, progress you have already made, the project's background and significance, your methodology and research plan, and the project's outcomes. Please balance the description of specific work plans against an overview of your goals and the project's contributions. Please refer to the sample proposal outline for suggestions about what to include in your proposal and how to organize it. You may also find helpful this essay by a former ACLS program officer about writing successful proposals.

Q: How should I format the budget and what should it include?
A: Your budget may include salary replacement during the summer; course buyouts during the academic year; travel costs and registration fees for research and conferences; costs associated with organizing a conference, workshop, or event; fees related to publication or dissemination; stipends for undergraduate research assistants; costs for course materials (if one of the outcomes of the project is curricular); etc. In some cases, a limited portion of the funds may go to a fellow’s institution to cover administrative costs associated with the project. Applicants are encouraged to propose budgets that use the full $40,000 available.

The budget should be in the form of a simple chart that includes the expense/activity, the approximate time period when it will occur, and the cost. Please refer to the sample budget for a suggested model.

Q: How should I format the project timeline and what should it include?
A: The project timeline should specify the location and approximate duration of each activity related to the project, and may be presented as a chart or narrative description. Please refer to the sample timeline for a suggested model.

Q: How should I format the bibliography and what should it include?
A: Your bibliography should list an overview of essential references for your project, and should balance the various sorts of key materials being used, e.g., primary sources and secondary texts. The bibliography must not exceed one page and should be double-spaced between entries.

Reference letters and institutional certification


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 often prefer “arm’s length” letters from individuals who can attest to the significance of your work and have less personal interest vested in your success. It’s good to be able to show that your work has been recognized outside the department or institution where you are employed or did your graduate work. Think carefully about who can write the best letters and weigh that against personal connections. Applicants at early career stages will tend to rely more on graduate school advisers and colleagues as advocates.

Q: Do all reference letters have to be in the system before I submit the application?
A: No, but note that the deadline for reference letters is the same as the application deadline. The system will continue to accept letters for a few days after the deadline and will add them to your application at the earliest possible time, though we cannot guarantee that they will accompany your application in the first stage of review.

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

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Q: Does ACLS accept reference letters from Interfolio or university-based dossier services?
A: No. ACLS requests that reference letters contain specific elements targeted to this fellowship program. Peer reviewers have expressed strong reservations about letters from dossier services since they are necessarily general and thus less helpful in assessing the merits of the proposed project. This information is particularly crucial for proposals that reach the final round of selection where they are evaluated by multi-disciplinary committees. ACLS understands the demands placed on senior scholars and has sought to moderate that burden by reducing both the required number and the length of reference letters to minimum essential levels.

Q: Whom should I ask to fill out my institutional certification? Can the individual who completes the institutional certification be the same as one of my reference letter writers?
A: The institutional certification should be filled out by your department chair, dean, or other senior administrator. While there is no prohibition against this being the same person as one of your reference letter writers, it would be preferable if it were not.

Review process


Q: Who is reading my proposal?
A: Proposals will be reviewed by peer reviewers who are faculty at community colleges or faculty at four-year colleges and universities who are familiar with the circumstances for research at community colleges and career trajectories of community college faculty. Proposals will be evaluated in two stages. At the first stage, two to three reviewers in your field will judge your proposal. The first stage of review determines which applications will go on to the final stage. At that point, applications are reviewed by a panel of reviewers from disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.

Q: Since my application will be read by peer reviewers in a range of fields, how should I pitch my proposal?
A: To address those familiar with your field, explain why this project offers insight into the issues of your discipline, and make clear what question or problem is being addressed. In addition, though, be sure to explain any terms that might not be familiar to those outside your field or subfield, and discuss the significance of your project within your field and within the humanities more generally.

Q: How much of the proposal should be devoted to explaining methodology, the project's significance, theoretical framework, work plan, etc.?
A: The portion of the proposal that should be devoted to its constituent parts varies according to the proposed project. An important part of the application process is gauging the most central elements of your project and presenting those elements to your best advantage within the specified page limit.

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Q: I plan to use the full $40,000 stipend as salary replacement. What should I say in my budget?
A: If a portion of these funds will be used toward course buyouts, please indicate that in the budget and include the cost per course. If these funds will simply be compensating you for your time (e.g., to replace courses you might usually teach over the summer or to supplement a reduced course load if you are not full-time), please indicate that in the budget.

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship competition? Do you have examples of successful proposals?
A: Since this is a new program, we cannot provide examples of projects or proposals, but we expect that the projects that are ultimately selected will vary widely. As with all of our programs, there is no one model to follow for a successful application, but you may benefit from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis. In addition, to get a sense of the kinds of topics that fellows in other ACLS programs are working on, it may be useful to view previous awardees for the ACLS Fellowships and the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships, which are our two largest programs.

Q: Can I receive reviewer comments on my application?
A: Yes. Comments are released at the discretion of the reviewers. Hence, comments may be available from some, though not necessarily all, of the reviewers who assessed an application. Requests for comments from the 2018-19 competition must be submitted in writing (to fellowships@acls.org) by August 31, 2019.

Stipend


Q: If I receive this fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of my receiving the funds directly?
A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. ACLS can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. However, institutions may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. For more information, review Information for Institutional Administrators.

Q: The fellowship guidelines state, “In some cases, a limited portion of the funds may go to a fellow’s institution to cover administrative costs associated with the project.” What kinds of costs may be covered?
A: ACLS fellowships do not cover overhead or indirect costs. However, a portion of the stipend for this program may cover direct costs of the proposed fellowship activities. One example of this would be the instructor replacement cost to the institution if the applicant proposes being released from teaching responsibilities. Other examples, depending on the activities, may include office expenses, equipment and room rental fees, or staff time. Overall, up to 20 percent of the stipend may be used to defray the costs of the award for the institution. Please email fellowships@acls.org if you have questions about whether any specific direct costs would qualify.

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Related Links

For answers to questions not addressed here, please contact us at fellowships@acls.org.

For questions pertaining to technical support, please consult the FAQ in the online fellowship application (OFA).