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Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships FAQ

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Eligibility

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

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

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

Q: I have a dissertation completion fellowship this year, but I will not finish my dissertation by the end of this year. May I apply for a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, since I hope to finish next year?

Q: May I apply for this fellowship if the current academic year is my seventh in the PhD program?

Q: When calculating how many years I’ve been working towards my PhD for purposes of eligibility for this fellowship, do years spent obtaining a master’s degree in a different program/at a different institution count?

Q: May I apply for a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship if I have previously applied?

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 Dissertation Completion Fellowship program?

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article/book accepted for publication. May new information be added to my publications list?

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?

Reference letters

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

Q: If my advisor is also the chair of my department, whom should I ask to submit the institutional statement of support?

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?

Review process

Q: Who is reading my proposal?

Q: Since my application will be read by both experts in my area and in a range of humanistic 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: Should I include citations in my chapter sample?

Q: Should the project bibliography be annotated?

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the Dissertation Completion Fellowship competition? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

Q: Can I receive reviewer comments on my application?

Award and stipend

Q: Are fellowship stipends paid directly to the fellow or are they paid through the payroll system of his or her home or host institution?

Q: I have been offered another fellowship in addition to a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. May I accept both?


Eligibility


Q: What kind of projects does this program fund? Are there some types of projects this fellowship program does not fund?
A: Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships support research and writing in the humanities and social sciences for graduate students in the last year of PhD dissertation writing. In order for social science applications to be eligible, they must employ humanistic approaches and qualitative/interpretive methodologies. 

The program does not accept applications from students earning professional or applied PhDs, terminal degrees that are not a PhD (such as an EdD or MFA), or PhDs outside of humanities and social science departments, including the following disciplines: business, clinical or counseling psychology, creative or performing arts, education, engineering, filmmaking, law, library and information sciences, life/physical sciences, public administration, public health or medicine, public policy, education, clinical or counseling psychology, law, social work, or social welfare, public health, filmmaking, or creative or performing arts. Students completing master’s degrees are not eligible, even if they are the terminal degree in the field. If you are unsure whether your department or interdisciplinary program qualifies you for this fellowship program, please email fellowships@acls.org with a brief summary of your affiliation.

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

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible?
A: All doctoral students who are completing PhDs at degree-granting institutions in the United States are eligible to apply.

Q: I have a dissertation completion fellowship this year, but I will not finish my dissertation by the end of this year. May I apply for a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, since I hope to finish next year?
A: As a recipient of a dissertation completion fellowship from another funding source, you cannot subsequently apply for a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Completion fellowships are intended for the final year of dissertation work, with the expectation that recipients will finish the dissertation during fellowship tenure.

Q: May I apply for this fellowship if the current academic year is my seventh in the PhD program?
A: Applicants may petition to be considered for a fellowship that they would take up during their eighth year in a PhD program. To do so, they must provide a compelling reason for consideration. This petition must be submitted in the space designated in the Education section of the application. Applicants' dissertation advisors must also explain in their reference letters the circumstances that merit consideration for an eighth-year fellowship.

Q: When calculating how many years I’ve been working towards my PhD for purposes of eligibility for this fellowship, do years spent obtaining a master’s degree in a different program/at a different institution count?
A: No. Only a master’s degree earned at the same institution and en route to the PhD counts toward years in the program.

Q: May I apply for a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship if I have previously applied?
A: Yes, but unsuccessful applicants may reapply to this program only once.

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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 at least 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. We highly recommend that you start the process at least 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 Dissertation Completion Fellowship program?
A. The deadline to submit completed applications for this fellowship is 9 pm, Eastern Daylight Time, October 25, 2017.

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article/book accepted for publication. May new information be added to my publications list?
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.

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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. One of these letters must come from your dissertation advisor.

Q: If my advisor is also the chair of my department, whom should I ask to submit the institutional statement of support?
A: The person submitting the institutional statement should not be one of the two reference letter writers and we require that one reference letter come from an applicant’s dissertation advisor. Thus applicants should ask another appropriate person to submit the statement; those appropriate to complete a statement include the director of graduate studies or a dean, associate dean, or assistant dean responsible for the graduate program.

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 writer(s). 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: 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.

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Review process


Q: Who is reading my proposal?
A: Proposals will be reviewed in two stages. At the first stage, three established scholars in your discipline (and/or regional area of study) will judge your proposal. These reviewers may or may not specialize in the particular sub-field(s) covered in 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 scholars whose collective expertise covers a range of disciplines in the humanities and related social sciences.

Q: Since my application will be read by both experts in my area and in a range of humanistic fields, how should I pitch my proposal?
A: To address experts in 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, 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. In a section of the application separate from the body of the proposal, you are also asked to address the significance of your proposed project for the humanities more broadly.

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 word/page limit.

Q: Should I include citations in my chapter sample?
A: Yes, chapter samples should include citations, but they must be included within the 25 double-spaced page limit. Note that brief, in-text citations are acceptable if the work cited appears in the project bibliography.

Q: Should the project bibliography be annotated?
A: The bibliography should provide an overview of essential references for your project, and should balance the various sorts of key materials being used. Annotation is not required.

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the Dissertation Completion Fellowship competition? Do you have examples of successful proposals?
A: The projects that are ultimately selected vary widely. While there is no one model to follow for a successful application and we do not provide examples of proposals that receive funding, you are encouraged to view previous awardees and brief project descriptions here. You may also benefit from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis.

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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 2017-18 competition must be submitted in writing (to fellowships@acls.org) by August 31, 2018.


Award and stipend


Q: Are fellowship stipends paid directly to the fellow or are they paid through his or her home institution?
A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual graduate student. ACLS can arrange payment through the individual’s institution upon request. However, institutions may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the fellowship. For more information, review Information for Institutional Administrators. Note that the fellowships include funds for university fees (up to $5,000), which must be paid directly to the institution.

Q: I have been offered another fellowship in addition to a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. May I accept both?
A: ACLS policy prohibits Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows from holding concurrent fellowships that provide a stipend of any amount. ACLS allows a university to provide awards subsidizing tuition and university fees, including health insurance (beyond the up-to-$5,000 provided by the fellowship). Fellows may not accept an award that requires work of any kind, for example a teaching or research assistantship.

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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).