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
- Art History & Archaeology
- Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
- East Asian Languages & Cultures
- English & Comparative Literature
- Film Studies
- Germanic Languages
- Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
- Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender
- Latin American and Iberian Cultures
- Middle Eastern, South Asian, & African Studies
- Political Science
- Slavic Languages & Culture
Applicants are required to submit the following:
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.
Uploaded into the online application as a PDF or Word file. No more than 4 pages.
No more than 1500 words. Uploaded into the online application as a PDF or Word file.
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.
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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Must the research proposal outline a new project or may it be related to my dissertation?
Should the research proposal cover one or more years?
Should I include graphs, charts, footnotes and/or my bibliography in the word count for my writing sample?
Should I base my sample syllabus on a Core Curriculum course or a departmental course?
May I submit as my writing sample an excerpt from a longer piece as long as it meets the 3,500 word limit?
May I submit a writing sample in a language other than English?
Is it necessary to send a transcript of graduate courses or grades?
Should I include brief footnotes and bibliography with my research proposal?
Can the syllabus be longer than two pages?
What information should I include on the syllabus?
What citation style or reference system should I use?
May I fill out the application form in stages, and may I revise my application after I have submitted it?
How do I access my personal application account?
May I submit my application or portions thereof after the 3 October 2022 deadline?
May I email or fax my application, or portions thereof?
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?
When will my recommender be notified to submit his or her recommendation for my application?
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?
How do I list my PhD date if I have not yet defended the dissertation?
Do I need to mail in a hard copy of my application?
May I apply if I have received the PhD degree before 1 July 2019 or expect to receive it after 1 July 2023?
May I reapply if I wasn’t accepted in a previous competition?
I do not have a PhD, but I have a disciplinary equivalent in a related field: am I still eligible?
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?
May non-U.S. citizens apply for the fellowship?
May I apply if I received another type of terminal degree, such as an MFA or MBA?
Who reviews the applications?
What criteria does the selection committee use to evaluate applications?
If I am listing two departments, will both departments review my application?
Will the Society of Fellows confirm receipt of my application materials?
Will the Society of Fellows contact me regarding acceptance decisions?
May I have a dossier service submit pre-written recommendations?
May I submit more than two recommendations?
My recommender is having trouble submitting his/her recommendation via the automated system. What should I do?
Does the deadline for recommendation submissions differ from the deadline for application submissions?
May my recommenders submit their recommendations prior to my having submitted my application?
Can I track whether my recommenders have submitted their recommendations?
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?
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: www.college.columbia.edu/core/.The 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.
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.