Buddhist Studies is the academic study of the Buddhist tradition from its origins in ancient India to its present-day manifestations around the world. Scholars of Buddhism work in a number of disciplines, including, but not limited to, history, philology, archaeology, art history, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, sociology, cultural studies, and gender studies. The program is therefore multidisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies or 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 is defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and 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.
You can find sample applications at the bottom of each program’s page.
Yes. Completed applications must be submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship and Grant Administration (OFA) System by the deadline specified for each competition.
ACLS supports academic research in the humanities or interpretive 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.
Proposals in the social sciences are eligible only if they employ predominantly humanistic approaches and qualitative/interpretive methodologies. Mixed methods approaches and proposals in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary humanities and related social sciences are welcome.
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.
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 small, 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 Global competitions for individuals will be required to inform ACLS of any other awards they might be offered.
No. The program offers fellowships and grants for dissertation and postdoctoral research. The program does not offer scholarships for MA students.
Yes. Please make sure that you spell check all your submitted texts and documents. Please review your submission several times for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Ideally, ask a colleague to proofread.
Buddhism Public Scholars
An applicant must hold a PhD conferred no earlier than September 1, 2019. If the PhD is not conferred (officially awarded) before a scholar is offered a position with a host institution, the scholar must submit a letter from the scholar’s graduate school confirming that the dissertation has been submitted and approved by the graduate school for conferral according to the university calendar. The scholar is responsible for submitting the dissertation on time in order to meet this requirement.
No. The Buddhism Public Scholars program is specifically targeted to recent recipients of a PhD in the humanities or interpretive social sciences. Individuals without PhDs, or with terminal degrees other than a PhD, are not eligible.
Applicants must be authorized to work in the US for the entire duration of the fellowship term. This includes Indigenous individuals residing in the United States through rights associated with the Jay Treaty of 1794, and those who hold DACA status, Temporary Protected Status, political asylee or refugee status, and other non-permanent status. Neither ACLS nor the host institution will sponsor scholars for visas.
Yes. Your PhD may come from a non-US institution, as long as you meet the work eligibility requirements described above.
Yes. You may apply to the program more than once, provided that you still meet the eligibility requirements.
No. Applicants must be prepared to begin the fellowship term within the advertised date range in the project description.
The requirement to relocate is based on each host institution’s remote work policies and expectations for the fellow to be onsite. ACLS provides a $10,000 allowance to cover relocation costs as part of this fellowship. These funds may be used for relocation, site visits, or home office expenses depending on the specific needs of the fellow and the expectations of the host institution.
Fellows will have the opportunity to discuss in-person requirements as part of the interview process.
Yes. As long as the Buddhism Public Scholars program’s stated eligibility requirements are met.
It is important to translate the skills and capacities you honed in the course of your doctoral studies and extracurricular activities to make them legible to a new audience and connect them to the responsibilities in the project description. There is a growing body of literature online with advice about applying to jobs outside the academy, which would be useful to consult as you prepare your Buddhism Public Scholars application. A number of ACLS’s member scholarly societies have developed programming and online resources for career exploration, among them the Modern Language Association’s Connected Academics initiative, the American Historical Association’s Career Diversity programming, and the American Philosophical Association’s Beyond Academia report. Other resources include career services websites at your graduate institution, for exampleColumbia University Center for Career Education and University of Michigan Career Center.
The most competitive applicants are able to demonstrate sincere, well-researched interest in the institutions they seek to work with as well as an understanding of how their experience and skillsets can help advance the goals outlined in the posted fellowship project descriptions. There is no one perfect format for a cover letter, or a resume, but they should be tailored to the particular project description for which you are applying and should not resemble traditional academic job letters or CVs. The University of California Humanities Research Institute’s Humanists@Work website features a variety of useful resources, including an interview with an ACLS program officer offering tips for writing a strong application to the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program, closely related to the Buddhism Public Scholars program. ImaginePhD, which is a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences, also has a number of resources for creating job search materials and interviewing. The National Humanities Alliance’s Humanities for All site catalogues public humanities projects as well as bibliography and other resources about the publicly engaged humanities.
When you are contacted by the host institution for an interview, please be communicative and offer as much availability as you can to help the interview process proceed as quickly as possible. Be sure to review your own job materials and the position description once again before the interview. It is also important to demonstrate your sincere interest in and qualifications for the position, and that you have learned everything you can from the institution’s publicly available information. Host institutions will want to know how your knowledge of Buddhism may be relevant to their publications or collections, as well as how the fellowship position, and specifically working with them, will help advance your professional goals.
It is also important to know that some aspects of the fellowship are determined by program policy and not by the host institution itself. The fellowship’s start in September 2024 and the stipend, for example, are not negotiable. The fellowship also cannot be held alongside other significant employment or professional commitments.
However, each institution approaches the interview process somewhat differently, so we also encourage you to approach the process as a learning opportunity in and of itself—ultimately, our partners are seeking intellectually curious and enthusiastic colleagues.
For the purpose of this competition, the humanities or interpretive social sciences include, but are not limited, to:
- Art and architectural history
- Ethnic studies
- Gender studies
- Languages and literatures
- Psychology (excluding clinical or counseling psychology)
- Religious studies
- Rhetoric, communication, and media studies
- Theater, dance, and performance studies
PhDs in social science fields are eligible only if they employ predominantly humanistic approaches (e.g., law and literature, political philosophy, history of psychology). PhDs in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary humanistic studies are welcome.
The Buddhism Public Scholars program does not accept applications from candidates holding PhDs in any field of pre-professional or applied study OR:
- Clinical or counseling psychology
- Creative writing
- Library and/or information sciences
- Performing arts
- Public health
- Public policy or public administration
- Social welfare
- Social work
- Urban planning
While the pursuit of degrees in such fields often involves engagement with the humanities, this program aims to promote the value of humanities disciplines that have not traditionally been recognized as preparatory for careers beyond the academy.
Master’s degrees, even if they are the terminal degree in the field, will not be accepted as substitutes for the PhD.
Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies
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, 2024.
Yes. The structure of your PhD program presumes ABD Status. A university official must provide a statement affirming that your PhD program only requires research and writing to ACLS at [email protected] by April 15, 2024.
An applicant for a dissertation fellowship must have finished all courses, passed all required examinations, and have their research prospectus approved by April 15, 2024. To be eligible in the first year of a PhD program, an applicant must be at the research and/or writing stage of the PhD.
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.
The program is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies or 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 is 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.
Early Career Research Fellowships
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.
If the PhD is not conferred (officially awarded) by the application deadline, the applicant must submit:
- (At the time of application) an institutional statement signed by a university official (dissertation advisor or departmental chair) confirming that the applicant is on schedule to complete the PhD by May 31, 2024.
- (By May 31, 2024) a letter from the applicant’s graduate school confirming that the dissertation has been submitted and approved by the graduate school for conferral according to the university calendar. The applicant is responsible for submitting the dissertation on time in order to meet this requirement. The applicant should request that the graduate school send the letter to ACLS at [email protected].
Yes. The award may be used for writing. Follow-up research during writing is also permitted.
You may apply as long as you meet all the program’s eligibility requirements.
Yes. You are eligible to apply. Please make sure that you describe your situation in the application.
The program is interdisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhist Studies or 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 is 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.
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 statement in your application 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 statement. How will the fellowship period contribute to the completion of the work?
No. The funds awarded may not be used to supplement an already existing endowment or teaching position.
The professor hired in this position must teach courses in Buddhist Studies. In addition, the professor may teach courses that compare Buddhist traditions to other religions and philosophies of Asia and the West. This is a position for a scholar in Buddhist Studies not for a generalist in Asian religions. However, in view of the needs of universities, the new professor, in addition to courses in Buddhist Studies, may also teach courses on Asian religion and philosophy and/or World Religions that include substantial units on Buddhism.
The strength of institutional commitment to establishing a long-term position is an important factor in the committee’s decisions. An institution must commit to maintain the seeded position as a permanent post consistent with its policies for all its similar permanent positions.
Yes. You are eligible. However, at institutions without a tenure-track system, the applicant institution 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 rule of thumb may be stated as “none or one.” If an institution has no professors teaching Buddhist Studies, or only one, that constitutes a prima facie case for “clear and urgent need.” In all other cases, the applicant must make a case for its need for a New Professor.
Translation Grants in Buddhist Studies
The program is interdisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies or 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 is 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 and its benefit to a community of interested readers who do not yet have your proposed text available in their own language.
The purpose of this competition is to encourage and enable the translation of important Buddhist works for the benefit of communities of scholarship and practice who do not have access to them in their own languages. Applicants may propose the translation of works from any genre of Buddhist literature from any period and region.
Applicants are encouraged to review recent awards for guidance on the range of projects that may be supported.
Yes. Priority will be given to the translation of works that have not been translated into English. However, this does not mean that applicants must propose translation into English. Translation can be from any language into any language. For example, in 2023, an award was made for a translation from New Indo-Aryan and Mid Tibeto-Burman languages into Newari and Nepali.
While a critical edition may be necessary to produce a translation, translation should be the focus of the project.
Yes. Multi-author works may be supported, so long as all authors are included in the application as part of the collaborative team. Anthologies or edited volumes are unlikely to be funded.
Translation grants must start between July 1, 2024 and September 30, 2025.
Online Application Process
No. You will need to start over with a new online application.
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. For Buddhism Public Scholars and Translations, you will need to secure referees to write letters in support of your application.
You should start the process well ahead of the deadline to get a sense of what is required and to start preparing your materials.
No. You may work 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.
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.
No. Your application will be evaluated as submitted.
Reference Letters - Buddhism Public Scholars and Translation Competitions Only
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. Members of the selection committee sometimes have concerns about letters from colleagues in an applicant’s department, and often prefer “arm’s length” letters from scholars who can attest to the significance of the applicant’s work.
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 at which you did graduate work. Hence, it might be advisable to request reference letters from outside your home institution. Think carefully about who can write the best letters.
Applicants at early career stages will rely more on dissertation advisors as advocates. In most cases, you will want your referees to be established scholars.
Applicants to the Buddhism Public Scholars program may also wish to request letters from referees who can speak to their relevant non-academic skills and experience outside the academy.
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.
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 received funding. You might benefit from looking at the profiles of recent awardees or from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis.
For Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies, Early Career Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies, and Translation Grants in Buddhist Studies, the fellowship/grant is awarded to an individual scholar. However, we can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. In that case, the institution is not permitted to deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual’s fellowship. See Information for Institutional Administrators.