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Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows: Information for Potential Host Organizations


The application deadline for the 2016-17 competition has passed. ACLS will issue the next call for proposals in August 2017 for organizations wishing to host a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow starting in summer 2018. The description below is for informational purposes only.

The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program is an innovative, career-launching initiative that allows talented humanities PhDs to gain valuable experience in areas such as arts management, communications, public policy, international relations, and digital media. Please note: This program aims to demonstrate the wide applicability of the PhD outside academia. Semi-academic positions, sometimes referred to as “alt-ac” positions, that are located on university campuses or that combine administrative responsibilities with teaching and/or research, fall outside the purview of the program.

What kind of organization is eligible to host a Public Fellow? ACLS partners with a diverse group of organizations each competition year. Host organizations are selected based on their capacity to offer rewarding, career-building work that will foster the fellow’s professional development. Besides a challenging and substantive portfolio, hosts must provide mentorship, networking opportunities, and other career advancement activities. Hosts also cover modest administrative costs associated with hosting a fellow and pay a modest one-time placement fee, which defrays costs associated with running the fellowship competition.

How are Public Fellows selected? Applications to the Public Fellows program are subject to a multi-stage review process. Applications are reviewed first by a peer review committee of humanities PhDs working in a variety of professional contexts outside of the academy. Finalists identified by this process are forwarded to the host organization for a second round of review and interviews before an offer is made by ACLS.

What types of positions could a Public Fellow fill in my organization? Past and current fellows have undertaken significant roles within their host organizations, such as overseeing major digital initiatives; managing the research and publication of major reports on state, national, and international policy issues; and creating and administering institutional outreach and development campaigns. Please review the listings of our first six cohorts of fellows, whose diverse backgrounds and advanced training have made them integral to their host organization’s operations. A full list of fellows and host organizations can be found here.

How does my organization apply? The deadline for organizations wishing to host a 2017 fellow has passed. ACLS issues a new call for applications for host organizations each August. The most recent application materials are available below at the links below. Questions may be directed at any time to publicfellows@acls.org.

Application for organizations that are new to the Public Fellows program.

Application for organizations that have already hosted a Public Fellow.


Related Links

"What Can You Do With a PhD?" The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation features the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program. 

Quick Facts

  • In 2016-17, the program will place up to 20 recent humanities PhDs in two-year staff positions at partnering organizations in government and the nonprofit sector.
  • The fellowship provides a stipend of $67,500 per year as well as individual health insurance.
  • Hosts fully integrate the fellows into their organizations, and fellows take up substantive assignments in support of the host’s core mission
  • Host organizations incur a modest placement fee as well as costs related to hosting a fellow on-site.
  • Over the first six years of the program, ACLS has partnered with dozens of organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, the Public Theater, the Smithsonian, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 
  • The program is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • For more information, visit Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program.