FAQ: The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies

General Questions

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Q: Can I find more information about the application without having to log in?

Q: Do all five competitions use the Online Fellowship Application (OFA) system?

Q: What kind of work gets funded? Are there some types of projects ACLS does not fund?

Q: May I apply for more than one ACLS fellowship in the same competition year?

Q: May I apply at the same time for an ACLS fellowship and an outside fellowship?

Q: Does the initiative offer scholarships for MA programs in Buddhist studies?

Q: Does spelling, grammar, and punctuation count?

Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

Q: I will obtain ABD (All But Dissertation) status shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for this fellowship?

Q: I am enrolled at a university outside the United States that does not have the ABD system. I am in my first year of the PhD program. Am I eligible to apply?

Q: If I receive a fellowship, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

Q: I am a master’s student in Buddhist studies. Does the program offer scholarships for MA studies?

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Translation Grants in Buddhist Studies

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Q: What texts are eligible for translation?

Early Career Research Fellowships

Q: A condition of award is leave (release from teaching and all other university responsibilities) for a full academic year (two semesters). May I take leave for two non-consecutive semesters?

Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for the Early Career Research Fellowship?

Q: May I use the award for writing up research that I have already done or for a combination of writing and follow-up research during the fellowship tenure?

Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Early Career Research Fellowship?

Q: Am I eligible to apply if I do not hold the PhD degree but have the equivalent in scholarly publications?

Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

Q: May the proposed final scholarly product be a journal article (or a series of articles)?

New Professorships

Q: Can The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Grant be combined with a grant from another Foundation to support the three years of the teaching position?

Q: What courses can the new professorship offer?

Q: What does “permanent, tenure-track post” mean?

Q: We are an institution applying for a New Professorship grant and we do not have a tenure-track system. How can we express in our application the required commitment “to maintain the seeded position as a permanent, tenure-track post after the expiration of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation funding?”

Q: Our institution has a curriculum in Buddhist Studies. How do we make the case that it is in “clear and urgent need of support.”

The Online Application Process

Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?

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

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

Q: I might receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain nor the exact amount. What should I fill in on the application form?

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?

Q: May I submit my reference letters through a dossier service such as Interfolio?

The Review Process

Q: Who will evaluate my proposal?

Successful Proposals

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the ACLS fellowship competitions? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

General Questions

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is multidisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/Religious Studies.

Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss how your project will have an impact on the field of Buddhist studies.

Q: Can I find more information about the application without having to log in?

A: On the program’s page you can find sample applications.

Q: Do all five competitions use the Online Fellowship Application (OFA) system?

A: Yes. Completed applications must be submitted through the ACLS online fellowship and grant administration system (ofa.acls.org) by the deadline specified for each competition.

Q: What kind of work gets funded? Are there some types of projects ACLS does not fund?

A: ACLS supports academic research in the humanities and related social sciences. The ultimate goal of the project should be a major piece of scholarly work by the applicant.

ACLS does not fund creative work or the performing arts (e.g., novels, films, performance, or musical composition), nor does it fund textbooks or pedagogical projects.

Q: May I apply for more than one ACLS fellowship in the same competition year?

A: Yes, an applicant for this program may also apply to as many fellowship programs as are suitable. However, not more than one ACLS or ACLS-joint award may be accepted in any one competition year.

Q: May I apply at the same time for an ACLS fellowship and an outside fellowship?

A: An applicant may apply to several competitions, ACLS fellowships or others.

However, it is only possible to ACCEPT ONLY ONE award during the same period. We presume our awardees will work full time during the award period on the project for which they applied.

There are some minor exceptions. A complementary award (e.g., for travel to a conference) may be accepted if it does not take time away from the project proposed or otherwise interfere with its completion.

All awardees in the four Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation competitions for individuals will be required to inform ACLS of any other awards they might be offered.

Q: Does the initiative offer scholarships for MA programs in Buddhist studies?

A: No. The program offers fellowships and grants for dissertation and postdoctoral research. The program does not offer scholarships for MA students.

Q: Does spelling, grammar, and punctuation count?

A: Yes. Please make sure that you spell check all your submitted texts and documents. Please review your submission several times for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Ideally, ask a colleague to proofread.

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Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

Q: I will obtain ABD (All But Dissertation) status shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for this fellowship?

A: Yes, you may apply. An applicant must have completed all requirements for the PhD degree except research and/or writing of the dissertation by April 15, 2022.

Q: I am enrolled at a university outside the United States that does not have the ABD system. I am in my first year of the PhD program. Am I eligible to apply?

A: An applicant for a dissertation fellowship must have finished all courses, passed all required examinations, and have his/her research prospectus approved by April 15, 2022. To be eligible in the first year of a PhD program an applicant must be at the research and/or writing stage of the PhD.

Q: If I receive a fellowship, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. However, we can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. In that case, the institution is not permitted to deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. See Information for Institutional Administrators.

Q: I am a master’s student in Buddhist studies. Does the program offer scholarships for MA studies?

A: No. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies offers fellowships and grants for dissertation and postdoctoral research and writing. The program does not offer scholarships for MA students.

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/ Religious Studies.

Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. You should state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss how your project will have an impact on the field of Buddhist studies.

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Early Career Research Fellowships

Q: A condition of award is leave (release from teaching and all other university responsibilities) for a full academic year (two semesters). May I take leave for two non-consecutive semesters?

A: Yes, the fellowship tenure may be divided in two periods, each of which must last for a minimum of three months. These two periods do not have to be consecutive.

Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after the application deadline. May I apply for the Early Career Research Fellowship?

A: If the PhD is not conferred by the application deadline, November 1, 2021, the applicant must submit:

  • (At the time of application) an Institutional Statement signed by a university official (Departmental Chair or Dean) confirming that the applicant is on schedule to complete the PhD by April 15, 2022
  • (By April 15, 2022) a letter from the Graduate School confirming that the dissertation has been submitted and approved by the Graduate School for conferral according to the university calendar

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit the dissertation in time for the Graduate School to issue a certification by April 15, 2022.

Q: May I use the award for writing up research that I have already done or for a combination of writing and follow-up research during the fellowship tenure?

A: Yes, the award may be used for writing. Follow-up research during writing is also permitted.

Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Early Career Research Fellowship?

A: You may apply as long as you meet all the program’s eligibility requirements.

Q: Am I eligible to apply if I do not hold the PhD degree but have the equivalent in scholarly publications?

A: Yes, are eligible to apply. Please make sure that you describe your situation in the application.

Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. However, we can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. In that case, the institution may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. See Information for Institutional Administrators.

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is interdisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhist Studies/ Religious Studies. Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss how your project will have an impact on the field of Buddhist studies and its benefit to a community of interested readers who do not yet have your proposed text available in their own language.

Q: May the proposed final scholarly product be a journal article (or a series of articles)?

A: The ultimate outcome is a written, scholarly product. Whether it is a book or set of articles is less significant than the intrinsic interest of the substance of the project.

The essay should describe the work to be done during the fellowship period – research, thinking, writing. If this work is part of a longer project, that, too, should be addressed in the application essay. How will the fellowship period contribute to the completion of the work?

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Translation Grants in Buddhist Studies

Q: Is eligibility limited to applicants with Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies degrees?

A: The program is interdisciplinary. Eligibility is not restricted to scholars with degrees in Buddhists Studies/ Religious Studies.

Your proposed project will be assessed on its intellectual merits as well as on its impact on the field of Buddhist studies. For the purpose of this competition, Buddhist studies are defined broadly. It is incumbent on the applicant to state the relation of the proposed project to scholarship and to provide a rationale for the disciplinary approach to be employed.

Your application essay should discuss the impact of your project on the field of Buddhist studies.

Q: What texts are eligible for translation?

A: The purpose of this competition is to encourage and enable the translation of important Buddhist works for the benefit of communities of scholarship and practice who do not have access to them in their own languages.

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New Professorships

Q: Can The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Grant be combined with a grant from another Foundation to support the 3 years of the teaching position?

A: No. The funds awarded may not be used to supplement an already existing endowment or teaching position.

Q: What courses may the new professorship support?

A: The professor hired in this position must teach courses in Buddhist studies. In addition, the professor may teach courses that compare Buddhist traditions to other religions and philosophies of Asia and the West. This is a position for a scholar in Buddhist studies not for a generalist in Asian religions. However, in view of the needs of universities, the New Professor, in addition to courses in Buddhist studies, may also teach courses on Asian religion and philosophy and/or World Religions that include substantial units on Buddhism.

Q: What does “permanent, tenure-track post” mean?

A: The strength of institutional commitment to establishing a long-term position is an important factor in the committee’s decisions. An institution must commit to maintain the seeded position as a permanent post consistent with its policies for all its similar permanent positions.

Q: We are an institution applying for a New Professorship grant and we do not have a tenure-track system. How can we express in our application the required commitment “to maintain the seeded position as a permanent, tenure-track post after the expiration of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation funding?”

A: At institutions without a tenure-track system, the applicant institution must commit to continuing the position for a substantial period after the expiration of grant funding and must provide a description of how this commitment fits its contractual practices.

Q: Our institution has a curriculum in Buddhist Studies. How do we make the case that it is in “clear and urgent need of support?”

A: The rule of thumb may be stated as “none or one." If an institution has no professors teaching Buddhist studies, or only one, that constitutes a prima facie case for “clear and urgent need.” In all other cases, the applicant must make a case for its need for a New Professor.

The Online Application Process

Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?

A: No, you will need to start over with a new online application.

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 or two. In addition, you will need to submit your proposal and supporting documents. You will also need to secure referees to write letters in support of your application.

You should start the process well ahead of the deadline to get a sense of what is required and to 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: I might receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain nor the exact amount. What should I fill in on the application form?

A: You may estimate the amount you expect to receive or fill in nothing. You can enter this amount in the section asking you to list other major funding sources to which you ARE APPLYING for your present research proposal. Should you be offered a fellowship, you will need to inform ACLS and state a specific amount for any other funding you receive during the fellowship period.

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.

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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, specific letters on your behalf, preferably those who can comment on the proposed project. Members of the selection committee sometimes have concerns about letters from colleagues in an applicant's department, and often prefer "arm's length" letters from scholars who can attest to the significance of the applicant's work.

It is good to be able to show that you have made a contribution to the field, not merely in the department or institution at which you are employed or at which you did graduate work. Hence, it might be advisable to request letters of recommendation from outside your home institution. Think carefully about who can write the best letters.

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

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

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 may wish to contact the letter writers. If one of your designated referees cannot write the letter, you can 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 them), 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 then not being able to submit it.

Q: May I submit my reference letters through a dossier service such as Interfolio?

A: No, you may not. We do not accept letters from dossier services. Your reference letters must be submitted through the ACLS online fellowship and grant administration system (ofa.acls.org) by your referees.

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The Review Process

Q: Who will evaluate my proposal?

A: Proposals are read by an international panel of experts in Buddhist Studies from a variety of disciplines in the humanities and related social sciences.

Successful Proposals

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the ACLS fellowship competitions? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

A: The projects that are ultimately selected vary widely. There is no one model to follow for a successful application, and we do not provide examples of proposals that receive funding. You might benefit from asking an ACLS fellow whom you know to show you her or his proposal and from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis.

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