Frequently Asked Questions - National Humanities Center

Frequently Asked Questions

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions below for additional information regarding the residential fellowship program and the competition. Applicants may address additional inquiries to

General Information


What are the eligibility requirements to apply for a residential fellowship at the National Humanities Center?
Applicants must have a doctorate or equivalent scholarly credentials at the time of application. Successful candidates typically earned a PhD in a humanities discipline at least five years prior to applying for a fellowship. Fellowships are awarded to established scholars, meaning that successful candidates usually have published at least one single-author book or a significant body of peer-reviewed scholarship. The Center does not fund post-docs, so the applicant must be working on a second significant project beyond their dissertation. There is no upper age limit, but senior candidates must be actively engaged in scholarly research which will eventuate in significant publication. Fluency in written and spoken English is required.

What areas of research does the National Humanities Center support?
In addition to scholars from all fields of the humanities, the Center also accepts applications from individuals in the natural and social sciences, the arts, the professions, and public life provided those projects are informed by and significantly contribute to humanities scholarship.

I am currently finishing my PhD. Am I eligible for a residential fellowship?
No. Applicants must have a doctorate or equivalent scholarly credentials at the time of the application. Applicants who do not meet this criterion are not eligible for a fellowship at the Center and will not be reviewed as part of the competition. Most successful candidates are mid-career and senior scholars, or emerging scholars with a strong record of peer-reviewed publications beyond the dissertation project.

I am working on a collaborative project with a colleague. Are we able to jointly apply to the residential fellowship program?
While the Center welcomes applications based on collaborative projects, applicants need to apply individually. Application evaluations are based on the merits of the individual as well as the project.

I am an independent or unranked scholar. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes. Independent researchers are eligible and encouraged to apply if they meet the general eligibility requirements as listed above.

Can I apply if I am working on a novel or poetry?
At this time, we are unable to fund creative projects (such as works of fiction or poetry).

What scholars or projects are considered ineligible?
Applicants with an insufficiently developed scholarly record beyond the dissertation project at the time of application are considered ineligible. Additionally, we are unable to fund projects that are collections of primary sources, edited volumes, creative projects (such as works of fiction or poetry), or explicitly pedagogical works (such as syllabi and textbooks). Any projects that are not sufficiently advanced beyond the dissertation project are also deemed ineligible.

I am a former Fellow. Am I am eligible to apply again?
Former Fellows are eligible to reapply when at least five years have elapsed from the end of their previous fellowship and their fellowship project has been published. For example, a 2019–20 Fellow who published their book is eligible to apply again in 2025 for the 2025–26 fellowship year.

Does the NHC have special funding for faculty at HBCUs?
Thanks to the generous support and affirmation of its funders, the Center is pleased to provide dedicated residential fellowship opportunities to scholars from HBCUs. HBCU faculty may be selected for a fellowship at the Center in two ways. First, by applying directly to the Center and being chosen in our general competition for semester- or year-long fellowships. Second, by applying to the UNCF/Mellon Faculty Scholars Program for a one-semester fellowship at the National Humanities Center. Please see this link for more information about both opportunities. The Center welcomes all eligible applicants for our fellowships, including faculty at HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, tribal colleges and universities, liberal arts and teaching colleges, and international institutions, as well as independent scholars.

Fellowship Logistics and Funding

What is the length of a Center residential fellowship?
The Center mostly funds academic year fellowships (September through May). However, fall (September through December) and spring (January through May) fellowships are also available. Applicants should indicate their preference on the online application.

What stipend amount can I expect if I am chosen as a Fellow?
The stipend amounts awarded are individually determined, according to the needs of the Fellow and the Center’s ability to meet them. The Center seeks to provide half salary with the expectation that the Fellow’s home institution covers the remaining salary. Other grants or institutional support that Fellows will receive during their fellowship may also affect the amount of the Center’s stipend.

How will I receive my stipend if selected as a Fellow?
Fellows have the choice to receive their stipend directly or paid through their institution. The Center does not withhold taxes, but stipends are taxable.

Are overhead/indirect costs built into the stipend?
No, the stipend is considered salary replacement only. No indirect costs or fringe benefits are built into the stipend amounts our Fellows are awarded, and our fellowships do not allow for institutional overhead.

Does the Center supply any additional funding to its Fellows?
In addition to the stipend, the Center also pays for round trip travel for the Fellow and any immediate family members joining the Fellow in North Carolina during the fellowship year. The Center does not provide any additional funding for research travel, edited letters or primary source document collections, moving expenses, or living expenses.

The Application

What should I take into account when writing my project proposal?
The project description should not exceed 1,000 words in minimum 12-point font. Successful applications go through two evaluation stages–first, proposals go through external peer-review by scholars working in the field of the proposed project. Second, projects are evaluated by an external committee of scholars from across the humanities. Therefore, project descriptions should be directed not only to specialists in the applicant’s own field, but also to scholars in other fields who serve on the Center’s selection committee. Applicants should avoid using overly specialized language or field-specific jargon. Project descriptions should emphasize the objectives and scholarly significance of the proposed research as well as the sources and methodology to be used. Applicants should distinguish what will be original about the proposed work in contrast to existing publications on the subject. Proposals should convey the importance of the project for advancing knowledge both within a scholar’s own field and for the humanities generally. In the concluding paragraph of the project description, applicants should summarize the present status of their research, including how much has been done in relevant collections and archives, and what they would hope to accomplish at the National Humanities Center.

What should be included in the one-page tentative outline of the structure of the project?
If the proposed project is a book, provide a chapter outline indicating the purpose of each chapter. For major projects other than books, describe the structure of the project and indicate the stage of completion for each section or module proposed.

How long should my curriculum vitae be?
Your curriculum vitae should not exceed four pages. It should include your educational and professional experience and a representative list of publications.

What should I take into consideration when choosing my three references?
Letters of recommendation should be current and address the merits of the project and the scholarly qualifications of the applicant directly. Applicants may consider including letters of recommendation from specialists who hold appointments at institutions other than the candidate’s place of employment to help convey the breadth of the candidate’s scholarly profile. For international applicants, letters of recommendation from scholars with experience at American, British, or European research institutions can help contextualize a candidate’s preparation and suitability for a residency at the National Humanities Center.

Are my references given access to my application materials?
No, references are not provided access to your application materials through the reference portal. Applicants should provide references directly with relevant application materials.

Can I use a dossier service (like Interfolio) to submit a letter/s of recommendation?
Yes, applicants are able to use letters from dossier services to apply for the program, though the Center prefers letters of recommendation that speak directly to an applicant’s project. To submit a letter from a dossier service, fill out the reference invitation as requested, but in place of the reference’s email address, input the Interfolio (or other dossier service) assigned email that corresponds to the letter in question.

When must letters of recommendation be received?
Letters of recommendation must be received by the stated application deadline. Applications are not considered complete until the online application and all three letters of recommendation have been received. Applications that are missing letters will not be eligible for review. The Center does not contact applicants regarding the status of their letters, as applicants are responsible for tracking their letters in their online application. Please note that applicants may complete and submit their online application prior to the submission of the letters of recommendation.

After entering my reference’s contact information in the online application, they still did not receive an email with instructions on how to submit their letter on my behalf. What do they do?
Any reference who does not receive an email prompt with instructions on how to upload or submit their letter of recommendation should contact to retrieve instructions. Automated emails are generated after the Request a Recommendation form is completed, so applicants are encouraged to complete this portion of the application as early in the process as possible.

How can I confirm if I have successfully submitted my application?
Once the online application has been successfully submitted, the applicant will receive an email confirming receipt. (Please contact if you have a question regarding the status of your application or did not receive a confirmation email after submitting the online application.) Applicants must also make sure that three letters of recommendation are submitted by the application deadline for their application to be considered fully complete. Applicants who have fully completed applications and who have met all the eligibility requirements will be reviewed as part of the competition.

I have already submitted my application but would like to make changes to my file. Can I edit my materials after submission?
No, once applications are under review, changes can no longer be made.


My department’s administrative assistant will upload all of my letters of recommendation, but the system isn’t allowing me to enter her/his email for all three of my references. What can I do?
The online application requires that three unique email addresses be entered for the three letters, for security purposes. Applicants will not be able to input the same email address for three references. If one person has been tasked with uploading all three letters, references may forward their reference portal login information to the uploader to give them the appropriate access.

My reference can’t upload their letter. What should they do?
References should try switching browsers first (Google Chrome tends to work well; Microsoft Edge should be avoided if possible). If issues persist, references should contact for assistance.

My document looked fine in MS Word, but after I uploaded it all the formatting changed and made it difficult to read. Why did this happen and how can I fix it? Will this affect the review of my application?
Our system converts uploaded documents to Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Slight variations in formatting are a byproduct of the conversion process. Our reviewers are aware of this and slight irregularities will not affect the review of an application. To avoid problems in the conversion process, applicants may choose to convert their documents to PDF format prior to uploading them. If candidates wish to upload MS Word documents, they should use simple formatting insofar as possible. Applicants can check the original document as follows:

  • Using the “show formatting” function on a computer, applicants can look for formatting that might have created problems, such as hard returns at the end of each line, text included in tables, diacritical marks, footnotes or endnotes, unnecessary page or section breaks, etc.
  • Applicants should delete unnecessary formatting and try uploading their document again. If they continue to have problems and feel that their document is difficult to read, email for assistance.

My document includes non-English language characters. Will the system support these?
The PDF conversion software does not support all non-English language characters. If the applicant’s written supporting materials include such characters, they should view the PDF after uploading to be sure the characters appear properly. Applicants can convert their document to a PDF and upload again if they have access to Adobe Acrobat (the PDF-creation software, not Adobe Acrobat Reader) or any other conversion software which better supports non-English language characters, or if they have Office 2010 or later.

My document was exactly the correct length in my original document, but when I viewed the PDF version of my upload, it exceeded the required page limit. What should I do?
The PDF conversion process can cause formatting changes that affect the length of a document. Applicants should not be concerned; slight variations are common and are not taken into consideration in judging documents.

I uploaded a file yesterday but the website is not showing that it has been successfully converted. I received the following message on the webpage: “File being converted…” Should I try to upload it again?
Applicants should first try refreshing the page. If their document has been converted, the status will change to “File converted” and the applicant will be able to confirm that the file was uploaded successfully by clicking on the “Click here to view file” link. If the file status does not change after a few minutes, applicants should try uploading the document again. If it fails to upload the second time, then there may be a problem with the document. Contact us by sending an email to or clicking the “Help” button inside the online application.

When I click the Print Application link, the PDF document comes up on the screen, but when I try to print it, I get a message saying it cannot print. What should I do?
There may be an issue with the computer the applicant is using. Applicants should try another computer or make sure that they have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader installed (this software is required for viewing PDF files and is available free of charge at

I use a Mac and am having difficulty viewing the converted PDF file and/or the complete PDF application when I click on the Print Application link. What should I do?
Applicants should make sure that they have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader installed (this software is required for viewing PDF files and is available free of charge at Applicants may also want to try a different browser.

I’m trying to format the text within the application form using HTML but the formatting does not appear in the PDF version of the application. What should I do?
The application form does not support HTML markup formatting.

Timeline and Decision

I’ve applied to the residential fellowship program for the upcoming year. When should I expect to hear if I was selected as a Fellow?
All applicants who have successfully submitted their online application by the competition deadline will be emailed about a decision in February. Decisions will be emailed from Applicants who have not received an email by the end of February should email the Center at to inquire about the status of their application.

When is the fellowship class for the upcoming year publicly announced?
The fellowship class is typically announced in late March/early April on our website.

I was notified that I am an alternate. When can I expect to learn whether I will receive a fellowship?
While it is often unpredictable whether and when alternates might be offered a fellowship, Center staff will promptly contact any candidates whose status has changed. All candidates may expect to receive notification of the final outcome of their application by the end of March.

I wasn’t selected as a Fellow. May I reapply?
Yes, we encourage applicants who are not successful in the competition to reapply. Indeed, many Center Fellows report having applied in previous years before being selected.

Upon Selection as a Fellow

How much time do I have to notify the Center of my decision to accept or decline the fellowship?
Applicants selected as Fellows have two weeks from the date of their offer letter to let the Center know of their decision. Usually, this will involve a conversation with the Vice President for Scholarly Programs about the terms of the offer prior to a letter being issued.

Am I provided assistance in relocating to North Carolina for my residential fellowship?
Upon selection and notification, Fellows receive information about housing, transportation, and schools (if applicable) in the area. While Fellows will need to make their own arrangements, the Center provides assistance and resources as Fellows begin to plan for their fellowship.

My partner/spouse is also working on a scholarly project in the humanities. Can he or she join me at the Center during the fellowship year?
The Center does on occasion have the capacity to provide study space, support, and services to spouses/partners of Fellows as non-stipendiary Resident Associates, though the Center cannot accommodate all requests. If an applicant is selected as a Fellow and has interest in this opportunity, they should inform the Vice President for Scholarly Programs as soon as possible. All Resident Associate positions are contingent on final approval by the Center’s Board of Trustees.

Fellowships Supporting International Scholars

I am not a citizen of the United States. Am I eligible to apply for a residential fellowship at the NHC?
Yes, the National Humanities Center welcomes fellowship applications from scholars engaged in advanced humanities research regardless of citizenship or national origin, and the Center is able to sponsor international applicants on a J-1 Research Scholar Exchange Visitor visa who are eligible. In order to be eligible for a J-1 Research Scholar visa, applicants cannot have participated in and completed a J-1 Research Scholar program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of the Center’s fellowship program. Additionally, applicants are not eligible for a J-1 Research Scholar visa if they have participated in any other J-Visa category (Professor, Government Visitor, International Visitor, etc.) for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the start date of the fellowship, unless they are currently in a J-1 Research Scholar program and will transfer in to the National Humanities Center, the applicant’s physical presence in the U.S. on a J-Visa program was less than six months in duration, or any prior participation was as a J-1 Short-Term Scholar. International applicants should consult the U.S. government’s Exchange Visitor website for additional eligibility and requirements.

Are there any other requirements I should be aware of if accepting a residential fellowship at the NHC?
Yes, all exchange visitors sponsored on a J-1 visa must satisfy English language proficiency and insurance requirements. Please see the J-1 visa website for more information on eligibility.

Can the Center also sponsor my family on an Exchange Visitor visa if I am selected as a Fellow?
The Center is only designated to sponsor scholars on a J-1 Research Scholar Exchange Visitor visa and their legal spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 who accompany or later join the Research Scholar Exchange Visitor in North Carolina. Legal spouses and children are sponsored on a J-2 Exchange Visitor visa. The Center can only sponsor dependents of a Fellow on a J-2 Exchange Visitor visa if the Fellow himself/herself is being sponsored on a J-1 Research Scholar Exchange Visitor visa by the Center as well. (In other words, there can be no J-2 Exchanges Visitors if there is not a J-1 Research Scholar Exchange Visitor.)

I am unsure if my institution will provide financial support if I am awarded a residential fellowship at the National Humanities Center. What type of support can I expect to receive from the Center?
The Center may be able to provide more than half salary, but it depends on the individual circumstances. Upon selection as a Fellow, the Vice President for Scholarly Programs will reach out to discuss the candidate’s funding and Center support.