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?

The NHC welcomes applications from faculty at research universities, liberal arts and teaching colleges, Historically Black Colleges Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, tribal colleges and universities, and international institutions, as well as independent scholars.

Successful candidates earned a PhD or an equivalent terminal degree in their discipline, such as the MFA, at least five years prior to applying for the fellowship. The NHC does not fund post-docs; the applicant must be working on a significant project beyond their dissertation and have published at least one single-authored book or a substantial body of peer-reviewed scholarship. All candidates must be engaged in scholarly research that will result in publication.

Fluency in written and spoken English is required. Most successful candidates are mid-career or senior scholars, or emerging scholars with a strong record of peer-reviewed publications beyond the dissertation project.

What areas of research does the National Humanities Center support?

In addition to scholars from all fields of the humanities, the Center 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. Humanities scholarship is interpretive and makes logical arguments from evidence, often texts. It aims to define and understand problems rather than effect immediate policy outcomes.

What kinds of scholarly work are eligible for fellowship support?

Most proposals are for single-authored books, but other forms of written scholarly work are eligible. The National Humanities Center is open to new forms of humanities scholarship.

I am currently finishing my PhD. Am I eligible for a residential fellowship?

No. The NHC does not fund doctoral research or writing projects. Applicants must have a doctorate or equivalent terminal credentials prior to applying. Please read the eligibility question above carefully.

I am working on a collaborative project with a colleague. Are we able to jointly apply to the residential fellowship program?

Yes. The NHC supports collaborative projects, however, the applications will be evaluated on their individual merit. Collaborators must apply individually and focus their application on their individual contribution to the project. If you are considering submitting a collaborative application, we suggest contacting the NHC at

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?

No. The NHC is unable to fund creative writing projects (such as works of fiction or poetry).

What type of application is deemed ineligible?
  • Applicants with an insufficiently developed scholarly record beyond the dissertation project
  • Projects that are collections of primary sources or edited volumes
  • Creative writing projects such as works of fiction or poetry
  • Explicitly pedagogical works such as syllabi and textbooks
  • Non-humanities scholarship such as white papers and reports
  • Projects that are derivative of the applicant’s dissertation

I am a former Fellow. Am I am eligible to apply again?

Once the previous fellowship project has been published and at least five years have passed, former Fellows are eligible to apply for a fellowship for a new project. For example, a 2018–19 Fellow who published that project is eligible to apply again in 2024 for the 2024–25 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.

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. Requests to begin the fellowship prior to the start date or remain at the NHC after the fellowship end date cannot be accommodated.

Do you have a library or service that provides the research materials I will need?

Yes. The NHC Library supports the work of the Fellows in a number of ways, including:

  • Procurement of books, articles, AV materials, archival scans, and all other research materials required by Fellows
  • In-depth reference assistance
  • Training in the use of electronic research tools
  • Hosting roundtables with guest speakers on topics such as scholarly communication and publishing in the humanities

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 reduce 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. NHC staff does not offer advice about stipend payments and taxes. It is strongly recommended that you consult a tax professional when making this decision.

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 (to the NHC at the beginning of the fellowship term and the return trip home at the end of the fellowship term) for the Fellow and any immediate family members traveling and living with 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, shipping expenses, or living expenses.

The Application

What should I take into account when writing my project proposal?

The project description cannot exceed 1,000 words. 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. Applicants should avoid using overly specialized language or field-specific jargon so the project description can be reviewed not only by scholars in the field of the proposed project, but also by scholars from across the humanities.

What should be included in the one-page tentative outline of the structure of the project?

For a book project, provide a chapter outline indicating the purpose of each chapter. For other major projects, 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 cannot exceed four pages. It should include relevant 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 specifically address the merits of the project and the scholarly qualifications of the applicant for a fellowship at the National Humanities Center. It is wise to include references who do not work at the applicant’s place of employment. For international applicants, letters of recommendation from scholars with experience at American, British, or European research institutions can help contextualize a candidate’s preparation 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, enter 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 application deadline. Applicants may complete and submit their online application prior to the submission of the letters of recommendation, however 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 NHC does not contact applicants regarding the status of their letters; applicants are responsible for tracking their letters in the online application software.

I entered my reference’s contact information in the online application, but they have not received an email with instructions on how to submit their letter. What should 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 for assistance. 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 complete.

I have submitted my application but would like to make changes to my file. Can I edit my materials after submission?

No. Once applications are submitted, changes can no longer be made.


Someone else will upload all of my letters of recommendation, but the system isn’t allowing me to enter their email address 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. 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 first try using a different browser (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. We recommend that applicants save their documents as a PDF file prior to uploading them. If applicants choose to upload MS Word documents, it is best to use simple formatting. 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. Review the PDF after uploading to be sure the characters appear correctly. Applicants can save their document as a PDF first, then upload again. Adobe Acrobat should support non-English characters.

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 word 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 do not affect the evaluation of your application.

I uploaded a file, 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?

First, try refreshing the page. If the 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 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 their status 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 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?

Alternates who are offered a fellowship will receive a phone call from the Center’s vice president for scholarly programs. All applicants can 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 offered a fellowship to reapply. Many NHC 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 one week to 10 days from the date of the offer to let the NHC know of their decision.

Am I provided assistance in relocating to North Carolina for my residential fellowship?

Fellows receive information about housing, transportation, and schools (if applicable) in the area. Fellows will make their own housing arrangements, and the NHC provides assistance and resources.

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 NHC is, on occasion, able to provide study space, library support, and other services to spouses/partners of non-local Fellows as non-stipendiary Resident Associates, on a case-by-case basis. Fellows should make this request with the Center’s vice president for scholarly programs prior to the fellowship offer deadline. All Resident Associate positions are contingent upon approval by the NHC board of trustees.

What can a Fellow expect at the NHC?

Upon arrival at the NHC, Fellows each receive a private study overlooking the woods, exceptional library services, weekday breakfasts and lunches in our light-filled Teachers’ Commons, and interesting, relevant programming. The NHC staff provides a warm, inviting environment and Fellows are welcomed into the community. There are ​indoor and outdoor ​sitting areas and a lovely walking path where you can enjoy a change of scenery.

Fellows have the opportunity to submit their project bibliography during the summer and to have the Center’s librarians procure these materials and shelve them in each study prior to the beginning of the fellowship term. Once in residence, Fellows may continue to request library materials.

Fellows will attend two mandatory orientation sessions and go on a guided tour of the building during the first week of the term, and attend several days of project presentations during the first three weeks of the term. Though most programming is optional, Fellows are required to attend the aforementioned as well as lunches with the NHC board of trustees in October and March. Fellows are expected to eat lunch daily with one another in the Commons.

The NHC is staffed from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Fellows will be given a study key and a building key and may work in the building outside of regular hours, on weekends, and on holidays. The NHC is closed on all federal holidays, at Thanksgiving, and for a winter break. The campus and building are smoke-free, and no animals are allowed on campus or in the building. Public transportation is not adequate to travel to the NHC ​or in most areas of the Research Triangle Park. For those who do not drive, ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft are available. A car may be purchased or leased for the fellowship term.

This is a residential writing fellowship. Fellows should plan to limit travel during the fellowship term. At the end of the fellowship term, Fellows are required to fill out a fellowship evaluation and a summary of scholarly work produced during the fellowship.

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. The NHC will sponsor eligible international applicants on a J-1 Research Scholar Exchange Visitor visa. Click here for information about eligibility criteria for exchange visitors. In addition, exchange visitors must satisfy English language proficiency and medical insurance requirements. Click here for details.

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.