FAQ: ACLS Leading Edge Fellowships Updated July 7, 2020

Eligibility

Q: By when must I have received my degree to be eligible for this fellowship?

Q: May I apply if I have the equivalent of a PhD?

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen to be eligible?

Q: May I apply with a PhD from an overseas institution?

Q: May I apply to be a Leading Edge Fellow more than once?

Q: If accepted, may I defer the start date of the fellowship?

Q: Must I relocate to take up this fellowship?

Q: Is my PhD field eligible for this program?

Q: May I apply to the Leading Edge Fellowship program if I have held another ACLS fellowship (such as a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship)?

Online fellowship application process

Q: May I apply to more than one of the Leading Edge Fellowship positions?

Q: I am interested in multiple projects available this year. How do I decide which one to apply to?

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

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

Q: To whom should I address my cover letter, ACLS or the project's host organization?

Q: What is the deadline for applications to the Leading Edge Fellowship program to be submitted?

Q: May I add new information to my resume or references after I have submitted my application?

Q: What degree verification will be required and at what point in the selection process?

References

Q: Whom should I ask to serve as one of my references?

Q: What information should I include when listing my references?

Review process

Q: Most of my recent experience has been in the academy. How do I demonstrate the relationship between my academic experience and a Leading Edge Fellowship project?

Q: What makes for a strong application?

Q: Who is reading my application?

Q: Can I receive reviewer comments on my application?

Eligibility

Q: By when must I have received my degree to be eligible for this fellowship?
A: Applicants must have a PhD conferred between September 1, 2016 and August 31, 2020. All applicants should be prepared to verify their dissertation filing/deposit date and the actual or anticipated date of the conferral of their degree with official university documentation during the review and selection process.

Q: May I apply if I have the equivalent of a PhD?
A: No, the Leading Edge Fellowship program is specifically targeted to recent recipients of a PhD in one of several target disciplines in the humanities and humanistic social science. Individuals with terminal degrees other than a PhD are not eligible.

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen to be eligible?
A: An applicant must be authorized to legally work in the United States. Neither host organizations nor the ACLS will sponsor applicants for visas.

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Q: May I apply with a PhD from an overseas institution?
A: Yes, your PhD may come from a non-US institution, as long as you meet the work eligibility requirements described above.

Q: May I apply to be a Leading Edge Fellow more than once?
A: Yes, you may apply to the program more than once, provided that you still meet the eligibility requirements.

Q: If accepted, may I defer the start date of the fellowship?
A: No, applicants must be prepared to begin the fellowship term within the advertised date range in the project description.

Q: Must I relocate to take up this fellowship?
A: ACLS and the participating host organizations will not ask awardees to relocate and will not pay for or arrange relocation for awardees as part of this program. In some instances, Fellows may be placed in a position that offers geographic proximity, in which case, should the host institution be able to accommodate them, they may have the option to work in person. However, geographic proximity is not a factor in the selection process.

Q: Is my PhD field eligible for this program?
A: For the purpose of the summer 2020 competition of the Leading Edge Fellowship competition, PhDs in any field in the humanities or humanistic social sciences may apply, so long as they demonstrate that their scholarly research draws primarily on the materials, methods, and/or findings of art and architectural history or visual culture. The humanities and related social sciences include but are not limited to American studies; anthropology; archaeology; art and architectural history; classics; economics; ethnic studies; film; gender studies; geography; history; languages and literatures; legal studies; linguistics; musicology; philosophy; political science; psychology (excluding clinical or counseling psychology); religious studies; rhetoric, communication, and media studies; sociology; and theater, dance, and performance studies. PhDs in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary humanistic studies are welcome. This program does not accept applications from students receiving a PhD in the fields of business, public policy or public administration, education or arts education, clinical or counseling psychology, creative writing, journalism, library and/or information sciences, law, social work, social welfare, urban planning, public health, filmmaking, performing arts, or any field of pre-professional or applied study. Master’s degrees, even if they are the terminal degree in the field, will not be accepted as substitutes for the PhD. If your degree field is not listed above, and you have questions about your eligibility, please contact fellowships@acls.org.

Q: May I apply to the Leading Edge Fellowship program if I have held another ACLS fellowship (such as a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship)?
A: Yes, as long as the Leading Edge program’s stated eligibility requirements are met.

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Online fellowship application process

Q: May I apply to more than one of the Leading Edge Fellowship positions?
A: Applicants may choose to apply to either one or two of the Leading Edge Fellowship projects offered in the current competition.

Q: I am interested in multiple positions. How do I decide which one to apply to?
A: Each applicant may apply to up to two positions. Applicants have many reasons for selecting the position(s) they apply to, but the two most important factors are 1) interest in/dedication to the organization’s mission; and 2) fit with or aptitude for the particular role within the organization. Applicants sometimes wonder whether it is possible to “game” the application process by applying to what they think might be a less competitive position, but the best strategy is to apply for the position(s) for which you feel you are best suited and would align best with your interests, skills, and career goals.

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 an hour if not two, plus you will need to submit a cover letter and resume for each position to which you choose to apply. We highly recommend that you start the process before the deadline to get a sense of what is required and start preparing your materials.

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?
A: No, you may work on it 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: To whom should I address my cover letter, ACLS or the project's host organization?
A: Applicants should address all materials to their selected host organization, not ACLS. It is very important to review the position description and do some research about the host organization. Read the project description carefully, visit the organization’s website, and familiarize yourself with the work they do. NOTE: Applicants may not contact the host organization with any questions about the fellowship, position, or application process. Questions about the program should be directed to ACLS. 

Q: What is the deadline for applications to the Leading Edge Fellowship program to be submitted?
A. The deadline to submit completed applications for this fellowship is 9 pm, Eastern Daylight Time, July 31, 2020.

Q: May I add new information to my resume or references after I have submitted my application?
A: No, your application will be judged as it is at the time of submission. However, you may be contacted during the review process for further information or clarification about elements in your application.

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Q: What degree verification will be required and at what point in the selection process?
A: If you are selected as a Leading Edge Fellow, you will be asked to submit university documentation of PhD conferral (such as a scanned transcript or diploma).

References

Q: Whom should I ask to serve as one of my references?
A: Your main priority should be to designate references who can speak to the strength of your qualifications for a particular project. A referee may or may not be someone you worked with during your graduate studies and is not required to be an academic.

Q: What information should I include when listing my references?
A: Please include the name, title, and contact information (email address and phone), and a brief description of your relationship to the referee. Should you be designated as a finalist, you should inform your referees that they may be contacted as part of the review process.

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Review process

Q: Most of my recent experience has been in the academy. How do I demonstrate the relationship between my academic experience and a Leading Edge Fellowship project?
A: Successful Leading Edge Fellowship applicants are able to demonstrate the connection between their past academic, extracurricular, and professional experience and the position to which they are applying. It is important to translate the skills and capacities you honed in the course of your doctoral studies and extracurricular activities to make them legible to a new audience and connect them to the responsibilities in the project description. There is a growing body of literature online with advice about applying to jobs outside the academy, which would be useful to consult as you prepare your Leading Edge Fellowship application. A number of ACLS’s member scholarly societies have developed programming and online resources for career exploration, among them the Modern Language Association’s Connected Academics initiative, the American Historical Association’s Career Diversity programming, and the American Philosophical Association’s Beyond Academia report. Other resources include career services websites at your graduate institution, for example: Columbia University Center for Career Education and University of Michigan Career Center.
 

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Q: What makes for a strong application?
A: The most competitive applicants are able to demonstrate sincere, well-researched interest in the organizations they seek to work with as well as an understanding of how their experience and skillsets can help advance the goals outlined in the posted fellowship project descriptions. There is no one perfect format for a cover letter, or a resume, but in any case they should be tailored to the particular project description for which you are applying and should not resemble traditional academic job letters or CVs. The University of California Humanities Research Institute’s Humanists@Work website features a variety of useful resources, including an interview with an ACLS program officer offering tips for writing a strong application to the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program, closely related to the Leading Edge Fellowship program. ImaginePhD, which is a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences, also has a number of resources for creating job search materials and interviewing. The National Humanities Alliance's Humanities for All site catalogues public humanities projects as well as bibliography and other resources about the publicly engaged humanities.

Q: Who is reading my application?
A: Applications go through two separate stages of review: First, all eligible applications are read by peer reviewers whose collective expertise covers a range of disciplines in the humanities as well as a broad spectrum of career experience. The first stage of review determines which applications will go on to the second stage. At that point, applications are reviewed by the host organizations. Review may include interviews at either stage.

Q: Can I receive reviewer comments on my application?
A: No, comments are not available to Leading Edge Fellowship program applicants.

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