Society of Fellows

Eligibility PhD (or equivalent) received within the past four years
Status Application Period Closed
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The Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University brings together exceptional early-career scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to be part of a vibrant cross-disciplinary community. In addition to teaching opportunities in affiliated departments and time for research, Fellows participate in and often organize lecture series, workshops, and other scholarly events that contribute to the intellectual life of the SOF/Heyman and the university more broadly.

Founded in the mid-1970s to encourage interdisciplinary teaching and research and housed in the Heyman Center for the Humanities since the 1980s, the Society offers one-year fellowships, renewable for up to two additional years.

The Society of Fellows is made possible by the generous support of the Mellon Foundation and the William R. Kenan Trust.

Good scholarship needs time for cultivation. This is a truism that has lost its self-evidence in certain academic settings, but not at Columbia’s Society of Fellows. Here one encounters everyday examples of rigorous thinking, richly and carefully developed ideas, and even a casual conversation in a corridor can change the understanding of something one thought one knew well. I have found these aspects of my experience here both humbling and inspiring. -- Ardeta Gjikola, Fellow (2018-2021)



The Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University intends to appoint a number of postdoctoral fellows in the humanities broadly construed for the academic year 2023-2024. Fellows newly appointed for 2023-2024 must have received the PhD between 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2023. The fellowship amount for 2023-2024 is $66,950. Medical benefits are provided, and subsidized housing is available. There is a $7,000 research allowance per annum.

The Society of Fellows is committed to assembling a diverse and inclusive academic community. Toward this end, we especially encourage applications from members of underrepresented groups and those whose interests contribute to realizing this goal.


PhD (or disciplinary equivalent) in the humanities or humanistic social sciences received within the past four years and completed by the fellowship start date. For the current application cycle, the PhD must have been completed between 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2023.

Please note that, in response to the COVID shutdown, we have extended the period of eligibility by a year (from three to four years past the award of the PhD.)

Applicants will select one of the departments, centers, or institutes listed below as their primary affiliation:

Departments, Centers, and Institutes

  • African American and African Diaspora Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Art History & Archaeology
  • Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
  • Classics
  • East Asian Languages & Cultures
  • English & Comparative Literature
  • Film Studies
  • French
  • Germanic Languages
  • History
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender
  • Italian
  • Latin American and Iberian Cultures
  • Middle Eastern, South Asian, & African Studies
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Religion
  • Slavic Languages & Culture
  • Sociology


Applicants are required to submit the following:


Online application

Complete and submit the online application. Please note that the online application must be submitted by the deadline in order for the submission to receive consideration.


Curriculum vitae

Uploaded into the online application as a PDF or Word file. No more than 4 pages.


Research proposal

No more than 1500 words. Uploaded into the online application as a PDF or Word file.


Writing sample

No more than 3500 words (footnotes and bibliography may be appended and don't count towards the word limit.) Uploaded into the online application as a PDF or Word file.


Sample course

Two-page undergraduate syllabus of your own design. Uploaded into the online application as a PDF or Word file.


Two letters of recommendation

In order for your recommenders to be alerted to your request for their recommendations, you must enter their names and emails by clicking the “Add Recommender” button found under “Reference Letters” in the side menu in the Online Application. Recommenders will receive automated notification of your request and instructions for submitting their recommendations once you have added them in the Online Application. Please be sure to follow up with your recommenders, as spam filters can interfere with the delivery of automated emails. You can check the status of recommendation submissions and resend the automated notification to your recommenders by logging into your application account. Please note that we cannot accept letters of recommendation sent via dossier services such as Interfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Materials

Must the research proposal outline a new project or may it be related to my dissertation?

The research proposal may outline a new project or it may be related to a dissertation. Either is acceptable.

Should the research proposal cover one or more years?

The research proposal should describe the work you plan to undertake over the term of the fellowship. Some applicants may choose to focus on a single project, while others may plan on beginning a second. Either is acceptable.

Should I include graphs, charts, footnotes and/or my bibliography in the word count for my writing sample?

Graphs, charts, footnotes and/or a bibliography do not factor into the word count of the writing sample, which is limited to 3,500 words.

Should I base my sample syllabus on a Core Curriculum course or a departmental course?

The sample syllabus should be designed for a course of your choosing to be taught through the department, center, or institute with which you seek to be affiliated.

May I submit as my writing sample an excerpt from a longer piece as long as it meets the 3,500 word limit?

Yes. You may submit an excerpt from a longer piece.

May I submit a writing sample in a language other than English?

All application materials must be submitted in English.

Is it necessary to send a transcript of graduate courses or grades?

No. Please do not send a transcript of graduate courses or grades.

Should I include brief footnotes and bibliography with my research proposal?

No, there is no need to include these in the research proposal.

Can the syllabus be longer than two pages?

No. As with other documents in the application, the Selection Committee observes a strict length requirement. If your syllabi are generally much longer, consider this syllabus an abridged version. The syllabus can be single-spaced.

What information should I include on the syllabus?

Include a title, description of the course, and a list of required texts and the order or groupings by topic in which they will be read. You might also consider describing information--such as course objectives, assignments, and policies--that conveys a sense of your pedagogical goals. This is not meant to be a comprehensive syllabus and should adhere strictly to the two-page requirement.

What citation style or reference system should I use?

Follow disciplinary norms for quoting and citing sources.

Application Submission

May I fill out the application form in stages, and may I revise my application after I have submitted it?

You may fill out your application in stages as long as you make sure to save it as you go along. However, once you submit the application form, you may not make changes to the application form or to uploaded documents. Please be sure that all information you submit is correct, as there are no exceptions to this policy.

How do I access my personal application account?

Upon submission of your application form you will receive an automated email with instructions for accessing your application account. This account will allow you to: 1) Track whether recommendations have been submitted on your behalf. 2) Re-send the automated Society recommendation request to your recommenders. 3) View and print your application form.

May I submit my application or portions thereof after the 3 October 2022 deadline?

We will not review any application materials submitted after 3 October 2022. The application site will not accept applications after 11:45 p.m. EDT on the 3 October 2022 deadline. It will accept recommendations letters for a short period after the deadline; however, you must enter your recommenders’ information by the deadline.

May I email or fax my application, or portions thereof?

No. The application must be sent through the application portal only.

Subsequent to submitting my application, I received a scholarly award or had an essay accepted for publication. May I submit an updated CV or replace my previous writing sample with the newly published piece?

Once submitted, all materials are final. No changes will be made regardless of developments that occur subsequent to submitting your application. Awards and publications received after application submission may be mentioned in the interview, should one be granted.

When will my recommender be notified to submit his or her recommendation for my application?

Your recommenders should receive an email within minutes of your submitting your request for a recommendation through the application portal. As recommendations are due within a few days of the deadline, applicants should notify their recommenders well in advance that they intend to apply to the Columbia Society of Fellows.

How do I determine if I should list the English Department or the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society as my department with which to be affiliated?

The Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia is largely a global English department, though it also fosters work undertaken in European literatures, particularly up to the 20th century. As an example, if your dissertation is about medieval poetry in England, France, and Germany, you should apply to English. But if your dissertation is about medieval poetry in China, France, and Moorish Spain, then you should apply to the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS). A general guideline to follow: if you are getting your degree in Comparative Literature, then you should apply to ICLS; if you are getting your degree from an English (or English and Comp Lit) Department, you should apply to English.

How do I list my PhD date if I have not yet defended the dissertation?

Provide expected date of PhD.

Do I need to mail in a hard copy of my application?

o, we do not accept hard copies of applications. Please submit via the online application only.


May I apply if I have received the PhD degree before 1 July 2019 or expect to receive it after 1 July 2023?

We strictly observe the dates for completion of the PhD degree. Only applications submitted by those whose date of degree falls within this time period will be reviewed. We define the date of completion of the PhD degree as the day you officially fulfill all requirements for the degree as defined by your institution.Please note that, in response to the COVID shutdown, we have extended the period of eligibility by a year (from 3 to 4 years past the award of the PhD)

May I reapply if I wasn’t accepted in a previous competition?

Applicants who were not selected in a previous competition may reapply. Those who do reapply must complete the entire application process again for the current competition.

I do not have a PhD, but I have a disciplinary equivalent in a related field: am I still eligible?

Applicants with an equivalent degree (such as a D.Phil, DMA, or DFA) in a humanities or social science field listed under “Departments, Centers, and Institutes” (see above) are eligible to apply.

My PhD is from a department at Columbia University, may I apply?


May I apply if I received my PhD from a non-U.S. institution?

Yes. The Fellowship is open to recipients of the PhD regardless of the nationality of the conferring institution.

May non-U.S. citizens apply for the fellowship?

Yes. The fellowship is open to non-U.S. citizens.

May I apply if I received another type of terminal degree, such as an MFA or MBA?

Applicants with an equivalent doctoral degree (such as a D.Phil, DMA, or DFA) in a humanities or social science field listed under “Departments, Centers, and Institutes” (see above) are eligible to apply. Holders of other terminal degrees—such as the JD, MBA, or MFA—are not eligible to apply as their degrees are not equivalent to the PhD.

Evaluation Procedure

Who reviews the applications?

Faculty from the academic department, center, or institute with which the applicant would be affiliated as a Fellow undertake the first round of evaluation, nominating 10% of the applications they vet for further consideration. Current Fellows and members of the Society’s Governing Board conduct a second round of vetting. Finalists are interviewed by the Society of Fellows Selection Committee, which comprises several members of the Governing Board and one current Fellow.

What criteria does the selection committee use to evaluate applications?

The selection committee values not only applicants' demonstrated excellence within their scholarly fields but also their ability to convey the importance of their work to readers in other disciplines.

If I am listing two departments, will both departments review my application?

Only one department advances the candidate for a second round of reading. Candidates who reach the interview stage will be interviewed by both department chairs/institute directors.


Will the Society of Fellows confirm receipt of my application materials?

You will receive an automated e-mail from the Society of Fellows indicating that your application has been received.

Will the Society of Fellows contact me regarding acceptance decisions?

We will invite finalists for a personal interview with the Society of Fellows Selection Committee. Invitations to interview will be extended by late December with interviews occurring in late January.


May I have a dossier service submit pre-written recommendations?

We do not accept recommendations from dossier services (e.g. Interfolio).

May I submit more than two recommendations?

We allow only two recommendations. Additional recommendations will not be reviewed.

My recommender is having trouble submitting his/her recommendation via the automated system. What should I do?

Please have your recommender contact the Society of Fellows at [email protected].

Does the deadline for recommendation submissions differ from the deadline for application submissions?

The deadline for recommendation submissions is within a few days of the application submissions: 3 October 2022.

May my recommenders submit their recommendations prior to my having submitted my application?

Recommenders can submit their recommendations once you have created your application account and added their names and emails (see “Reference Letters” in the side menu). Once you have entered this information, they will receive an email with instructions on how to submit their recommendations through the system.

Can I track whether my recommenders have submitted their recommendations?

Yes. Simply login to your application account (login instructions will be emailed to you upon submission of your application form). Once there, you can track whether your recommendations have been submitted.


What is CAPTCHA, and what do I do if I cannot read the numbers or text the system asks me to type for letter of recommendation submission?

CAPTCHA is a widely used security measure taken to ensure that we do not receive automated spam submissions to our Fellowship. If you cannot read the CAPTCHA, another CAPTCHA can be reloaded by clicking the red reload button inside the CAPTCHA box. There is also an option to listen to the CAPTCHA by clicking the audio button in the CAPTCHA box.


Fellows will receive the following:



Fellows are appointed as Postdoctoral Research Scholars (Mellon Fellows) in the Society of Fellows at Columbia University and as Lecturers in appropriate departments at Columbia University (see list of Humanities Departments below). This one-year fellowship is renewable for a second and a third year.



In the first year, Fellows teach one course per semester. At least one of these courses will be in the undergraduate general education program: Contemporary Civilization, Literature Humanities, Music Humanities, Art Humanities, Asian Civilizations, Asian Humanities, or Global Cultures, including those of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. For more information on Columbia’s Core Curriculum please visit: second course may be a departmental course, the design of which will be determined jointly by the Fellow and the Fellow’s academic department. In the second and third years, Fellows teach one course per year, leaving one semester free of teaching responsibilities. The courses taught in the second and third years of the fellowship may be departmental courses or Core courses as described above; however, at least two of the four courses taught over the three Fellowship years must be in the Core.


Thursday Lecture Series

In addition to teaching and research, the duties of Fellows include planning a weekly Thursday Lecture Series, which is open to members of the University community, and participating in the intellectual life of the Society and of the department with which the Fellow is affiliated. The Society also cosponsors conferences and special events planned by Fellows around their special interests.


Research Allowance

To aid in the research process, each Fellow is assigned to a private office with a phone, and access to campus Wi-Fi. The research allowance may be used to pay for research-related expenses such as conferences, professional memberships, and research materials.

Current Fellows View All

Renzo Aroni

Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and Anthropology

Youssef Ben Ismail

Middle Eastern South Asian, and African Studies

A. Véronique Charles

African American and African Diaspora Studies

Emma Shaw Crane

Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and Anthropology

nyle fort

African American and African Diaspora Studies

Atesede Makonnen

English and Comparative Literature

Ege Yumuşak