ACLS Fellowships

The deadline for this program has passed. The description below is for information purposes only. Awardees in the 2019-20 competition will be announced in the spring.

Fellowship Details

  • Maximum award:
    $75,000 for full Professor and scholars of equivalent accomplishment
    $50,000 for Associate Professor and equivalent
    $40,000 for Assistant Professor and equivalent
  • Tenure: six to twelve consecutive months devoted to full-time research and/or writing, to be initiated between July 1, 2020 and February 1, 2021
  • Completed applications must be submitted through the ACLS online fellowship and grant administration system ( no later than 9 pm Eastern Daylight Time, September 25, 2019.
  • Notifications will be sent via email by early March 2020.
  • For information on how to request reviewer feedback, see FAQ.

The ACLS Fellowship program includes a joint fellowship with the New York Public Library (additional information below), as well as named awards made possible by generous donors. The following fellowships will be awarded to selected applicants from within the ACLS Fellowship program:

  • ACLS Barrington Foundation Centennial Fellowships in Classical Studies;
  • ACLS Carl and Betty Pforzheimer Centennial Fellowships in English and American Literature;
  • ACLS Centennial Fellowships in the Dynamics of Place;
  • ACLS Donald J. Munro Centennial Fellowships in Chinese Arts and Letters;
  • ACLS Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr. Fellowships in Chinese History;
  • ACLS H. and T. King Fellowships in Pre-Columbian Art History;
  • ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellowships in American History;
  • ACLS Pauline Yu Fellowships in Chinese or Comparative Literature;
  • ACLS Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellowships in Music Studies; and
  • ACLS Yvette and William Kirby Centennial Fellowships in Chinese Studies.

The information provided here is a summary of the program, and details eligibility, application requirements, and evaluation criteria. Please read carefully through the material and accompanying FAQ.


ACLS invites research applications from scholars in all disciplines of the humanities and related social sciences. Faculty appointments are not required. The ultimate goal of the project should be a major piece of scholarly work by the applicant, which can take the form of a monograph, articles, digital publication(s), critical edition, or other scholarly resources. The ACLS Fellowship program does not fund creative work (e.g., novels or films), textbooks, straightforward translation, or pedagogical projects.

ACLS Fellowships are intended as salary replacement to help scholars devote six to twelve continuous months to full-time research and writing. The awards are portable and are tenable at the fellow's home institution, abroad, or at another appropriate site for research. (1) An ACLS Fellowship may be held concurrently with other fellowships and grants and any sabbatical pay, up to an amount equal to the candidate's current academic year salary. Tenure of the fellowship may begin no earlier than July 1, 2020 and no later than February 1, 2021.

The fellowship stipend is set at three levels based on academic rank (or rank equivalency based on scholarly attainment): up to $40,000 for Assistant Professor and career equivalent, up to $50,000 for Associate Professor and career equivalent; and up to $75,000 for full Professor and career equivalent. ACLS will determine the level based on the candidate's rank or equivalent rank as of the application deadline.

In 2019-20, the program will award up to 81 fellowships. Approximately 28 fellowships will be awarded at the Assistant Professor level, approximately 28 at the Associate Professor level, and approximately 25 at the full Professor level. It is ACLS’s expectation that the growth of the program in the past couple years allows for the fellows selected to be even more broadly representative of the variety of humanistic scholarship across all fields of study. We also believe that demographic diversity enhances scholarship, and aspire to recognize academic excellence from all sectors of higher education and beyond.

ACLS invites applications from scholars pursuing research in any discipline of the humanities and related social science on topics grounded in any time period, world region, or humanistic methodology. ACLS continues to welcome applications from scholars proposing disciplinary or interdisciplinary work in international and area studies, as it has since, in the years after World War II, ACLS worked with the Social Science Research Council to develop and sustain scholarly expertise focused on particular areas or cultural regions of the world.

In addition to these awards, the program offers ACLS Project Development Grants that support projects from faculty at teaching-intensive institutions. Applicants from these institutions who are not selected for fellowships but present particularly promising proposals may be awarded a grant of $5,000 to help advance their projects. (See FAQ for more information.)

Institutions and individuals contribute to the ACLS Fellowship program and its endowment, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Arcadia Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Council's Research University Consortium and college and university Associates, former fellows, and individual friends of ACLS.


Applicants must:

  1. be a US citizen or permanent resident
  2. have a PhD that was conferred at least two years before the application deadline. (An established scholar who can demonstrate the equivalent of a PhD in publications and professional experience may also qualify.)
  3. have had a lapse of at least two years between the last "supported research leave" and September 1, 2020. Please see FAQ about the definition of supported research leaves and how the timing of such leaves affects eligibility.

Application Requirements

Applications must be submitted online and must include:

  • Completed application form
  • Proposal (no more than five pages, double spaced, in Times New Roman 11-point font)
  • Up to two additional pages of images, musical scores, or other similar supporting non-text materials [optional]
  • Bibliography (no more than two pages)
  • Publications list (no more than two pages)
  • Two reference letters

Evaluation Criteria 

Peer reviewers in this program are asked to evaluate all eligible proposals on the following four criteria:

  1. The potential of the project to advance the field of study in which it is proposed and make an original and significant contribution to knowledge.
  2. The quality of the proposal with regard to its methodology, scope, theoretical framework, and grounding in the relevant scholarly literature.
  3. The feasibility of the project and the likelihood that the applicant will execute the work within the proposed time frame.
  4. The scholarly record and career trajectory of the applicant, taking into account relative advantages and constraints on resources for the proposed project and over the course of the applicant's career.

Reviewers are asked to be mindful of ACLS’s commitment to inclusive excellence, and of how equity and diversity are integral components of merit.

ACLS/New York Public Library Fellowships

ACLS may award residential fellowships in conjunction with The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. The Center provides opportunities for up to 15 fellows to explore the rich, diverse collections in the NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The Center also serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas among fellows, invited guests, the wider academic and cultural communities, and the interested public. It provides individual office space and common areas in the Library building. Fellows are required to be in residence from the beginning of September 2020 through the end of May 2021 and to participate in Center activities. These may include lunches, panel discussions, public conversations, symposia, and interviews. More information about The New York Public Library and its collections is available on the website.

The stipend for ACLS/NYPL fellowships will be $75,000, regardless of the applicant’s faculty rank or rank equivalency. ACLS/NYPL fellowships are subfellowships within the overarching ACLS Fellowship program; they have the same eligibility requirements, application form, and schedule. The only additional proviso is that these residential fellowships will be granted to scholars whose projects will benefit from research in the NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Please Note: Because this is a joint fellowship, applicants for ACLS/NYPL residential fellowships must also apply to the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the NYPL. The application for the NYPL competition is available here. The deadline for application and letters of recommendation is 5 pm Eastern Daylight Time, September 27, 2019.

An application for an ACLS/NYPL residential fellowship may have any one of the following outcomes:

  • a fellowship awarded solely by the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the NYPL,
  • an ACLS Fellowship awarded solely by ACLS, or
  • an ACLS/NYPL residential fellowship awarded jointly by the two organizations.
  1. Through a partnership with the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), an international membership organization of interdisciplinary research centers with over 170 members and affiliates in 23 countries, ACLS fellows have the opportunity to spend all or part of their fellowship terms in residence at selected CHCI member organizations. This is an optional enhancement to the award for ACLS fellows. Back to text.