Instructions for 2021–2022

A dissertation completion fellowship (DCF) is assured to all eligible candidates in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) in fields in the humanities and social sciences. Before following these instructions, students must review information on the Dissertation Completion Fellowships page and GSAS dissertation completion fellowships policy.

Purpose and Eligibility

Please see the Dissertation Completion Fellowship Requirements on the GSAS Policies website for complete eligibility requirements. 

Students are not eligible for a GSAS dissertation completion fellowship if they have already received a dissertation completion fellowship, whether from GSAS or an alternative late-stage writing fellowship from any other source, internal or external to Harvard.

Application Instructions for Students

Please note that the instructions for GSAS completion fellowships are also required for Graduate Prize Fellows, Presidential Scholars, and Ashford Fellows. The research centers and GSAS share a single application deadline of February 12, 2021, and a standard CARAT application form; application materials for individual centers and GSAS will vary. For instructions for the participating research centers, be sure to consult the entries for the individual centers to which you are applying on the DCF webpage. All instructions and accompanying forms are available on the Dissertation Completion Fellowships page.

The following application materials must be submitted in CARAT by the GSAS deadline:

  1. Application form (automatically generated by CARAT).
  2. Two faculty confirmation forms noting receipt of two dissertation chapter drafts, or the equivalent; one form to be completed by the principal dissertation advisor and the second by an additional advisor. The form is also to be signed by the student applicant, who will upload the two signed evaluation forms into CARAT. Note that this form replaces the formerly required letters of recommendation. 
  3. Dissertation abstract (one-page double-spaced) along with a Table of Contents indicating progress status for each chapter or article.

Conditions and Terms of the Award

  1. All registered students in GSAS, in fields in the humanities and social sciences, who meet the eligibility requirements will receive dissertation completion funding, with specific funding sources to be named as a final step.
  2. Awards are intended to be held for the entire academic year and to be confined within a single academic year. Students are expected to complete the dissertation during the completion fellowship year; this will be the final year of GSAS funding even for students who do not finish during the fellowship year. In addition, after holding a dissertation completion fellowship, students will be limited to no more than one additional academic year of registration in GSAS.
  3. Since this guaranteed fellowship is intended for students who are truly at the completion stage, students who apply for a research fellowship are expected to withdraw from the completion pool at the time of applying for the research fellowship; otherwise, receipt of a research fellowship may be counted as supporting the completion year, regardless of the stated purpose of the fellowship, and students will be ineligible to re-enter the completion pool the following year.
  4. The dissertation completion fellowships ordinarily may not be combined with grants from other sources, although exceptions are made for smaller grants. Also as noted, they are intended to be held for the entire academic year and must be confined within a single academic year.
  5. During the dissertation year, no concurrent teaching is permitted; other forms of employment are also excluded.

Please Note: Students who enter the GSAS dissertation completion fellowship pool must apply for all other internal and external completion fellowships for which they are eligible, either from a Harvard source such as a research center or departmental fellowship, or an external funding source. Students must accept the alternative non-GSAS award. In the event that the alternative award is less than the standard GSAS stipend and tuition and health fees, GSAS will supplement to make up the difference. Over and above a possible top-up, a possible bonus may be offered for receiving an alternative award. Presidential Scholars, Graduate Prize Fellows, and Ashford Fellows need not take the step of applying for alternative funding.

Instructions for Departments

We ask department administrators to submit to GSAS a list of department applicants in alphabetical order. This is to be compiled within five days after the standard deadline of February 12, 2021, and emailed to The department administrator can log in to CARAT to access their department’s list of applicants and completed applications. The list should also be circulated to the department chair and DGS. This will ensure that GSAS and the departments are all on the same page as to who is applying for the dissertation completion fellowship.

Additional Considerations

Students at times have difficulty deciding on readiness for a completion fellowship. They let the DCF deadline go by, putting off producing the required chapter or article drafts, only to discover at a later date that they would in fact be ready to complete the dissertation during the upcoming academic year. Making an assessment of readiness is something that should entail close consultation between the student and the dissertation advisor. We therefore urge advanced students and their departments to make sure that this consultation takes place, doing so well in advance of the GSAS February deadline, perhaps in December or January. At that time, students and advisors should also plan a strategy for having the required two chapter or article drafts ready by the deadline.