What fields of study are eligible?

NOTE: The Center has revised its eligibility rules for the 2025-2026 and subsequent fellowship cycles.

We welcome work in the following fields: American Studies, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Economics, English and Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Geography, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology.

Our focus is on “engaged scholarship” by which we mean research projects that address pressing social problems or injustices and whose findings can contribute to making the United States a more just, a more equal, and a more environmentally sustainable nation. We seek to support work that is engaged, meets the highest academic standards, and speaks to people beyond a specialized disciplinary audience.

As a rule, we do not support people pursuing Ph.D.’s in professional schools including Public Health, Education, Social Work, Law, Medicine, Urban Planning. However, we make exceptions for people who are housed in such institutions, but whose scholarly work is equivalent to what would be produced in a School of Arts and Sciences. Eligible work has to be readily accessible to readers outside that particular profession.

If you are uncertain about your eligibility, please inquire at info@cescholar.org before filling out an application.

Can I apply if I am a student at a university outside the U.S.?

No. The fellowship is limited to students currently enrolled in U.S. universities.

How will you assess whether I am close to completing the dissertation or not?

We gather information from the timeline narrative you provide in your application. We also ask your recommenders to specifically comment on your writing plans for the upcoming academic year. Your dissertation chair will have to also report on your progress in their recommendation letter.

Can I apply for the CES fellowship even though I received another dissertation-year fellowship?

You can apply only if the other fellowship is $10,000 or less. We want to make sure our funds go to students who need our support.

Can you provide examples of some of the interdisciplinary programs whose enrollees might be eligible for the CES Fellowship?

Examples include Ethnic studies, Gender or Women’s studies, Environmental studies, Urban studies, Religious studies, and American studies.

However, applicants in these fields should not apply unless their dissertation projects have a substantial social science component.

I am getting my Ph.D. through a professional school, but my dissertation project is based in the social sciences. Can I apply?

NOTE: The Center has revised its eligibility rules for the 2025-2026 and subsequent fellowship cycles.

The answer is no unless you are in a joint program with a social science department. CES is focused on encouraging people who are on a traditional academic track to do work that is engaged with real world problems such as racism, gender oppression, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation. We acknowledge that people on professional school tracks, including law, planning, social work, public health, and education routinely do research work that is engaged with real world problems. We commend them for doing this work, but since our resources are limited, we cannot provide funding.

Can I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes, the award is not dependent on citizenship.

Will you consider an application that is broadly theoretical in content?

Yes, but the applicant must have a convincing argument about how this theoretical contribution could facilitate progressive change or meet social justice goals.

Am I eligible if I finish my dissertation by December, at the same time the application is due?

No, this is not a post-doc program. Our fellowship is for people who have finished the majority of their research or data collection and will be in the early stages of writing when the fellowship begins in September. Do not apply if you have already completed much of the writing.

Does my dissertation require an explicit political conclusion or can the political implications remain implicit?

They can remain implicit. We recognize that some dissertation committees will frown on work that is too ‘political’. Your task is to simply persuade our reviewers that your findings might have significant political consequences.

Since the CES fellowship is intended for graduate students in U.S. universities does CES expect to support only research on US specific topics?

No, the research might analyze global dynamics or processes in one or more foreign countries, but the researcher must still make a convincing case that the research findings could contribute to struggles for social, racial, or environmental justice in the United States.

Are only full-time students eligible?

Yes, we want to support students who will be able to make substantial progress on the dissertation in the fellowship year.

Am I eligible if I am close to completing my doctoral dissertation?
No, you are not eligible to apply for the fellowship if you are close to completing your dissertation.

However, you are eligible to apply if you have advanced to candidacy, completed your research, and plan to be writing your dissertation during the fellowship period: September – May.

Can I apply if I plan to reach ABD status after the due date of the application?
You may apply only in the event that you will be ABD by February of the current academic year. We recognize that requirements to be ABD vary by institution, so we are using the definition of your particular institution. The CES fellowship is intended for graduate students who will have finished the majority of their research or data collection by June of the current academic year and will be writing their dissertations during the fellowship period: September – May.

This is a hard deadline and you must provide documentation from your dissertation chair/graduate division that you have advanced to candidacy. If you do not provide documented proof, you will be deemed ineligible for the fellowship.

I received a dissertation fellowship from a different organization for a previous round. Am I still eligible to apply?

If you are still writing up your chapters, you are eligible to apply for the fellowship. We do not take into account any fellowships received in prior years.

However, you may not apply if you have previously received a CES fellowship.

Although I am enrolled in a U.S. university my dissertation research focuses on another country. Am I still eligible for the CES dissertation fellowship competition?

You are eligible for the fellowship competition but you must explain how your findings could contribute to struggles for justice in the U.S.

How do I apply for the CES fellowship?

Our application portal requires you to register (if you do not already have an account).  Once you are registered, you can begin the application process. To access the application portal, click here.

Can I submit two applications for the fellowship competition?

No, you may submit only one application per year.

Can recommendations be submitted through Interfolio?

No, the system we use does not accept Interfolio recommendations. Each recommender must submit their letters individually through the online portal.

Are we expected to abide by the restrictions on word limit and general formatting requirements?

Yes, you are expected to do so as our system will not allow you to upload your application if you do not conform to the requirements specified.

What will happen if I cannot submit my application through the online portal to meet the deadline?

We recommend you plan to submit well ahead of the deadline to avoid any technical glitches at the last minute.

Applications are due December 1st at 11:59 pm PDT.  No exceptions.

How will my application be evaluated?

Your application will go through a multi-step review and it will be read by scholars from different disciplines in the social sciences but working in the same area of research. We advise you to write for a generalist audience and avoid excessive use of disciplinary terminology.

Can I submit drafts and make changes to the application?
Once you have created an account on the portal, you will have the ability to work with various drafts and make changes in the application (like updating the list of recommenders, etc.)  CES will not be able to view the in-process application until it is complete and submitted.  However, we caution you to save any changes you make to the application.

NOTE:  Once the application has been submitted, you will no longer be able to go back to make any changes. We strongly suggest you go over your application carefully as well as download it and review it before hitting “Submit”.

When is the deadline for the CES fellowship application?

The deadline to submit an application is December 1st. The application period will open on October 1st.

Will I be notified when all of my letters of recommendation have been submitted?
You will receive an automated email notification informing you when each recommender has submitted their letter of recommendation. Keeping your notifications on to receive email from application system will keep you informed when letters of recommendation have been submitted to our portal.

Please remember that you will receive individual notifications after each recommendation is filed.

Is there a template or writing guide available to write a proposal for the CES fellowship?
Although we do not have any kind of template, we highly recommend that applicants use The Art of Writing Proposals to develop these proposals.

How should I format the bibliography?

Please use a format that is appropriate in your discipline such as in history, sociology, or economics, etc.

Do you have examples of proposals that have been awarded fellowships?

We do not have examples of proposals to share with applicants. Each proposal is unique and we believe carries its own strength and limitations.

You may find the ‘Exemplary Research’ section on this website helpful to provide you with ideas on how social science research can inform progressive change and social justice.

Can you tell us what the reviewers will expect to see in our application?

In addition to an applicant’s academic background, reviewers will expect to see a strong explanation of how the research could contribute to struggles for justice in the United States. Reviewers will also consider the applicant’s engagement with the community.

Can I submit my application even though my letters of recommendation have not been submitted?
Yes, you may submit your application and we will add your letters of recommendation to the application after they are filed.

Your application is complete only AFTER all three of your recommendations and other supporting documents have been submitted. However, we urge you to provide your recommenders ample time to write their recommendation letters.

What are the requirements for the fellowship?
To download the list of items required for our fellowship application, click here.

Is CES looking for a particular methodological approach?
We do not subscribe to a preferred methodology. All methodological perspectives used in the social sciences are welcomed.

Does CES fellowship have a thematic emphasis for this year’s applications?
At this time, CES has not selected a thematic emphasis. However, that may change in the future and it will be announced in the call for applications.

How long does the fellowship last?
The fellowship is divided into 9 monthly payments.

When does the fellowship begin?
The first fellowship payment will be made on September 1st. The last payment will be on May 1st.

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