FAQ: African Humanities Program

Applicant Eligibility

Q: Can African citizens based in universities outside of Africa apply for an AHP fellowship?

Q: Are permanent residents of one of the five participating countries eligible?

Q: Are fellowships available to scholars completing Master’s degrees?

Project Eligibility

Q: What is a humanistic approach? 

Q: Are projects required to concern the humanities only in Africa, or can they pertain to other regions of the world?

Q: What kinds of final products qualify? 

Q: Is there a preferred framework for research?

Q: What is the appropriate timeframe for project completion?

Q: Should the project bibliography be included in the two-page application essay or should it be placed on additional pages? Is there a citation method that is preferred?

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in AHP fellowship competitions? Does ACLS provide examples of winning proposals to potential applicants?

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Q: What kinds of final products should postdoctoral applications propose?

Q: Are collaborative projects eligible for postdoctoral fellowships?

Q: Can postdoctoral fellowships be used to revise one's dissertation for publication?

Q: How many postdoctoral fellowships are granted each year? Does that number depend on the number of applications submitted in that year?

Application Review Process

Q: Can I send my application via email as an attachment?

Q: If my application is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, can it still be considered?

Q: Who will review the applications?

Q: How long does the review process take?

Q: Will I receive reviewers' comments?

Q: If I was turned down in a prior AHP competition, is it worth my time to apply again?

Q: Is there a quota of recipients per country specified (Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda)?

Q: Does spelling, grammar, and punctuation count?

Award Utilization

Q: If I finish my project sooner than anticipated, may I use the remaining time for another project?

Q: Can fellowships be deferred?

Q: Are applicants who have been offered simultaneous fellowships from other sources eligible to accept ACLS fellowships?

Q: May I work during the fellowship period?

Q: May I travel outside of the African continent during the fellowship period?


The Online Application Process

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article (or book) accepted for publication or was invited to a conference. May I send the information to ACLS to have it added to my publications page?

Reference Letters

Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Q: What should I do if one of my referees does not send in the letter s/he agreed to?

 

Applicant Eligibility

Q: Can African citizens based in universities outside of Africa apply for an AHP fellowship?

A: No. The applicant must reside in and maintain an affiliation in one of the participating countries: Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Affiliation is defined as a scholarly or professional relationship with a university, museum, or other academic institution that can be documented by an official at that institution.

Q: Are permanent residents of one of the five participating countries eligible?

A: If an applicant is a permanent resident of, and affiliated with, an institution in one of the five participating countries, such an applicant would also need to be a citizen of another sub-Saharan country. A citizen of a country outside of Africa with permanent residence in one of the five participating countries is not eligible.

Q: Are fellowships available to scholars completing Master’s degrees?

A: No. ACLS postdoctoral fellowships are intended for scholars who have obtained a PhD degree.

Project Eligibility

Q: What is a humanistic approach?

A: Only projects in the humanities are eligible. The list of humanities disciplines includes anthropology, archaeology, history, studies of the fine and performing arts, musicology, languages and linguistics, literature studies, religious studies, and philosophy. Projects in social sciences such as economics, sociology, or political science, as well as in law or international relations, are not eligible unless they are clearly humanistic in content and focus that is, unless they use qualitative methods and approaches, and are informed by the study of history and culture. Projects whose purpose is advocacy, the improvement of policy, or work for development are not eligible.

Q: Are projects required to concern the humanities only in Africa, or can they pertain to other regions of the world?

A: Projects can explore any aspect of the humanities in any region of the world.

Q: What kinds of final products qualify?

A: Final products must be pieces of scholarly writing. Acceptable examples include book manuscripts or a series of substantial journal articles. Proposals for research must identify the written scholarly product that will result. Creative projects such as novels, artworks, films, and musical compositions are not eligible. Projects for the organization of scholarly materials, such as archiving, collecting, and cataloguing, are not eligible.

Q: Is there a preferred framework for research?

A: No. ACLS does not specify how research must be performed. However, competition guidelines do specify acceptable project types. Applications should state why the proposed research framework is the most appropriate for the research questions posed.

Q: What is the appropriate timeframe for project completion?

A: Applications should propose work that can be completed within a 10-12-month period. If the work is part of a larger, multi-year project, the applicant should state this and should identify the activities that will be supported by with AHP funds during the fellowship period.

Q: Should the project bibliography be included in the two-page application essay or should it be placed on additional pages? Is there a citation method that is preferred?

A: The application essay should mention a few key works that have guided formulation of the research question or the choice of approaches and methods. The essay is not the place for a literature list. The place for such a list is the Project Bibliography and Sources file to be uploaded separately in the Documents Upload section of the online application.

All standard methods of citation are acceptable.

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in AHP fellowship competitions? Does ACLS provide examples of winning proposals to potential applicants?

A: ACLS does not provide examples of winning proposals, and there is no one model to follow for a successful application. However, applicants may view abstracts of winning proposals on the ACLS website.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Q: What kinds of final products should postdoctoral applications propose?

A: Applications should propose scholarly research projects that will lead to the publication of a monograph or other scholarly product. Professional projects such as textbooks and course planning are not eligible. Journalistic accounts and popularizations are also not eligible.

Q: Are collaborative projects eligible for postdoctoral fellowships?

A: No. Postdoctoral fellowships are intended for scholars working alone.

Q: Can postdoctoral fellowships be used to revise one's dissertation for publication?

A: Yes. This is encouraged. However, the applicant must clearly state what sort of work will be involved in revisions e.g., writing only (specify which chapters), additional research, library or archival searches, etc.

Q: How many postdoctoral fellowships are granted each year? Does that number depend on the number of applications submitted in that year?

A: The total number of fellowships awarded ranges from 35 to 50. The number depends on the quality of the applications, not on the total number of submissions received.

Application Review Process

Q: Can I send my application via email as an attachment?

A: No. All applications must be filled out and submitted online through our Online Fellowship Application system. If you have trouble using the online system please contact us at ahp@acls.org.

Q: If my application is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, can it still be considered?

A: No. Late applications are never accepted, regardless of circumstances. It is the applicant's responsibility to begin preparing the application early enough to allow time for proper transmission to ACLS.

Q: Who will review the applications?

A: Each application is reviewed by at least two senior faculty members teaching at African institutions.

Q: How long does the review process take?

A: Applicants are notified of their results approximately six to seven months after the competition deadline.

Q: Will I receive reviewers’ comments?

A: Only applicants who submitted a complete application dossier may request comments after being notified of their competition results. Comments may take several months to reach applicants.

Q: If I was turned down in a prior AHP competition, is it worth my time to apply again?

A: Yes. Individuals may apply many times, but postdoctoral applicants must observe the eight-year-past-PhD limit. Before reapplying, applicants should seek the advice of colleagues and mentors regarding the substantive content as well as the presentation of their applications. Applicants should consider any advice they receive, but the final version of the application's content, as well as its final written form, should be the applicant's own work.

Q: Is there a quota of recipients per country specified (Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda)?

A: No. Awards granted are based on application quality alone.

Q: Does spelling, grammar, and punctuation count?

A: YES! Please make sure that you use spell check on all your submitted texts and documents. Please review your submission several times for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It is worthwhile to ask a colleague to proofread.

Award Utilization

Q: If I finish my project sooner than anticipated, may I use the remaining time for another project?

A: Yes. It is acceptable to use extra time for the preparation of additional material for publication or for conducting further research. However, applications proposing work that can clearly be accomplished in much less than the 10 - 12-month fellowship period will be given a lower priority.

Q: Can fellowships be deferred?

A: No. Fellowships must be completed within the 10 - 12-month period specified in the application. These periods must match the timeframes of the annual competition for which they were submitted.

Q: Are applicants who have been offered simultaneous fellowships from other sources eligible to accept ACLS fellowships?

A: No. ACLS Fellows may hold no other simultaneous scholarships or grants. However, Fellows may accept paid leave or partially paid leave from their home institutions during the AHP fellowship period.

Q: May I work during the fellowship period?

A: No. ACLS Fellows may not accept any form of employment, paid or unpaid, during the period of the AHP fellowship.

Q: May I travel outside of the African continent during the fellowship period?

A: No. ACLS Fellows may not travel outside the African continent during the period of the AHP fellowship. However, short travel to present a paper at a conference directly related to the project will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Fellows should email ahp@acls.org in advance to ask for travel permission.

The Online Application Process

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?

A: This will vary, depending on how much work you have prepared before you begin the application process. Simply filling in the form will probably take at least an hour, if not two. In addition, you will need to submit your application essay and supporting documents. You will also need to secure referees to write letters in support of your application. You should start the process at least several weeks before the deadline to determine what is required and to start preparing your materials.

The best advice is to start early.

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?

A: No, you may work in multiple sessions, though you will need to save your work after you finish each section of the application. Once you have submitted the application, you cannot work on it again.

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article (or book) accepted for publication, or was invited to a conference. May I send the information to ACLS to have it added to my publications page?

A: No. Your application will be evaluated as submitted.

Reference Letters

Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

A: Your main priority should be to secure letters from referees who can write strong, well-informed letters on your behalf, preferably persons who can comment on the proposed project. ACLS reviewers sometimes have concerns about letters from colleagues in the applicants’ departments, and often prefer "arm's length" letters from scholars who can attest to the proposed project's significance to work in the field.

It is good to show that you have made a contribution to the field, not merely in the department or institution at which you are employed or did your graduate work. Think carefully about who can write the best letters.

Applicants at early career stages are more likely to rely on dissertation advisors as advocates. In any case, you will want your referees to be tenured scholars.

Q: What should I do if one of my referees does not send in the letter s/he agreed?

A: You can check online to see if your references have been submitted. If one or more of your letters has not been submitted by the deadline, you should contact the writer of the missing letter. If one of your designated referees cannot write the letter, you may ask someone else to write for you and submit the appropriate information on your reference form. However, please note that once the required number of letters has been submitted for your application (regardless of which of your referees submits a letter), no more will be accepted. Think carefully, then, before requesting replacement letters. You would not want to put a referee in the position of writing a letter for you and which then cannot be submitted.