Dissertation Fellowship

Deadline: Departmental decision is due by February 28th, 2020

The Charles Phelps Taft Dissertation Fellowship provides financial support to advanced, outstanding graduate students in support of their doctoral research. Nine full-year fellowships of $17,600 are earmarked for superior graduate students that are relatively close to completion of their Ph.D. Each Taft Ph.D.-granting department is provided one allocated dissertation fellowship, and the recipient is decided by the faculty within the department. A University Graduate Scholarship (UGS) accompanies each fellowship, through the home department, which covers the standard student health insurance award and course fees. 

general application procedures

All applications must be submitted to the Graduate Program Director of your department. The procedures below are suggested guidelines for students and departments, but it is up to each department to adopt them entirely, partially or even establish a completely different set of rules for each year’s applications. Taft does not review applications for dissertation fellowships. 

Departments are free to adopt materials requirements they deem appropriate. The following materials list is for reference by Taft Departments and is based upon previous program requirements. 

  • Research abstract (125 words)
  • Project description (5 pages)
  • The applicant's grade record - something that shows your grades for the courses you have taken while at UC.
  • A letter of support from the applicant’s dissertation advisor detailing the following:
    • Progress in the dissertation process by the time of the application, according to the scheduled proposed on the applicant’s dissertation prospectus.
    • The applicant's rank among advanced graduate students and the department's applicants, as well as his or her engagement in extra-curricular activities such as organizing events, taking part in committees, volunteering for departmental activities, etc.
    • The applicant’s productivity, in terms of academic publications, during his or her years as a UC student. This part should also reference in-review publications as well as creative writing produced during the same period.
    • Whether or not all course work and qualifying exams have been completed, and the applicant has advanced to candidacy;
    • Expected completion date of doctoral studies;
    • Whether or not the applicant was previously a dissertation fellow;
  • Two letters of support from faculty members, detailing the student’s work under their tutelage;

The primary prerequisite for serious consideration of all candidates is proof of significant progress toward the degree in the calendar year prior to the submission of the application. For students who are in the second year of dissertation work, this progress is usually established by the letters of recommendation of the student's advisor and other members of the dissertation committee. Such letters should summarize what has been accomplished and what remains to be accomplished before the dissertation is considered completed. For students who are about to begin a dissertation, significant progress toward the degree is established by completion of preliminary examination and by letters of recommendation. In exceptional circumstances, awards may be made contingent on satisfactory completion of Ph.D. examinations by the end of the second (spring) semester. 

guidelines for departmental selection

Following departmental review and selection, the Graduate Program Director must send to Taft, no later than February 28, a letter detailing:

  • The process of selecting the top two or three candidates
  • A final ranking of the candidates, along with any information about other fellowships to which any of the candidates have applied (or will apply)
  • The selected candidate's M-number, the title of their dissertations and an abstract of their project of no more 250 words.

Candidates who have had or currently have a Taft Dissertation award will not be eligible for another dissertation award unless there are no other qualified candidates within the department, assessed by a two-thirds majority vote of the faculty. In the exceptionally rare case that a candidate is being awarded a Dissertation Fellowship for the second time, the Department must explain this exceptional circumstance and the reasons for it on its report.

Departments should be advised that students who will attain 174 (140 with MA in-hand prior to attending UC) graduate hours during the fellowship year are not eligible for UGS awards and, therefore, cannot be considered for a Taft Dissertation Fellowship. 

It is not necessary to register for credit hours during the summer, in order to receive the stipend. 

Departments may carry-over their allocated award for up to one year if there is no student that meets department and Taft selection criteria for the Dissertation Fellowship, but may not provide more than two allocated awards in a given academic year. 

responsibilities of taft dissertation fellows

  • Taft Fellows may not engage in any form of paid employment, including teaching, during the period of their fellowship.
  • The Taft Dissertation Fellowship is classified as a Graduate Assistant Scholarship (GAS), offered through the home department, which covers an entire academic year, including the summer. This does not include ITIE (technology) fees, insurance, or an international fee, if applicable.
  • Taft Dissertation Fellows are required to attend several meetings throughout the year. This includes meeting as a cohort to discuss respective projects and selecting the attendees for the humanitiesNOW graduate conference.
  • Dissertations Fellows must make themselves available for the entirely of the humanitiesNOWgraduate conference in the humanities, as well as the Annual Research Symposium at Taft, which features the work of our Center Fellows.
  • Fellows must maintain residency in close proximity to the university, in order to satisfy the above requirements.
  • Failure to meet the necessary obligations of the award may result in the termination of this award.


Each department must report annually the status of all previous Fellowship recipients that remain in the department. The final reporting for a student should indicate their final degree status and, when known, where they went after leaving. 


The Taft Dissertation Fellowship includes $17,600.00 in pay and is categorized as a Graduate Assistant Scholarship (GAS), which covers the period from the first day of Fall Semester through the last day of spring semester. The GAS covers the cost of the instruction and general fees for each semester. Fellowship payments are distributed student accounts at the beginning of each semester, processed as a refund at the beginning of the 4th week of classes, assuming no outstanding debts.

Monies processed as fellowship payments are not reported to the IRS. As such, you will not receive any tax form (ie.1099-M) from the university. However, fellowship monies are taxable and recipients of such payments should self-report this as income to the IRS and plan to pay the appropriate taxes.