Please consult your department for internal deadline. 

Instructions for Application

These fellowships are for outstanding GSAS students in the humanities, social sciences, and in specifically designated areas of study in the natural sciences and mathematics, with exceptions made on rare occasions. The fellowships are intended to enhance opportunities for research and fieldwork. Applications are due in December, and recipients may take the fellowship in either the fall or spring term of the following academic year. Notification is typically mid-April. 


In the humanities and social sciences and specified fields in the natural sciences, the maximum grant is a single term standard cohort stipend, paid in five monthly installments September 1–January 1 or February 1–June 1. The award is for one term and may be taken in either fall or spring. The Merit fellowship is not location-based. 

Terms and conditions


To be eligible, you must:

  • have passed your Generals or Qualifying Exams
  • have an approved dissertation prospectus at the time of nomination, or no later than the beginning of the semester when the award is taken.
  • be registered in a designated GSAS department and must apply through that department


  • Students in the humanities and social sciences may apply for only one GSAS fellowship each year (for example, you cannot apply for a summer award or Dissertation Completion Fellowship while applying for a term-time/Merit award; you can, however, also apply for a Harvard Travelling Fellowship, since it is a non-GSAS award).
  • Students are not eligible for a Merit if they are receiving a full year of support from another source.  Since the norm in many departments in the natural sciences is guaranteed research support, eligibility is only for students in specified natural science departments (statistics, mathematics, and theoretical physics), with exceptions outside these fields granted on rare occasions.
  • Students who receive a Merit offer must decline the Merit if they receive and accept an offer for a full-year fellowship from another source.  If the alternate offer is for just a single semester from a Harvard research center or other source, the acceptance of both must be approved by both sources and used for separate semesters. Some research centers will not allow multiple awards in the same academic year.
  • During the award term, recipients are expected to spend full time on the dissertation and may not enroll in courses; teaching is restricted to one standard section with no other employment allowed.
  • Acceptance of an award may not be deferred; students must reapply.
  • A given GSAS fellowship can only be held once.

Instructions for Students

  1. Determine your departmental deadline by contacting your department administrator. Applications for the Summer Predissertation Fellowship must be completed in CARAT by the internal departmental deadline.
  2. A completed application includes the following materials:
  • Application form (via CARAT)
  • Current resume/CV; not to exceed two pages
  • Current transcript: When applying for internal Harvard fellowships, students do not need to submit an official transcript from the Registrar’s Office. They may submit a copy of their grade report available online from my.harvard 
  • Statement of purpose: Double-spaced and 2-4 pages in length. The statement should describe your proposed use of the award. For research abroad, please describe the subject and plan of your research including the feasibility and necessity of undertaking it in the proposed country or countries. Similarly, for language study, describe the necessity of the language for your future research.
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty members: The recommenders must upload the letter directly into CARAT.

Criteria Used to Evaluate Candidates


1. Clarity of Statement of Purpose:

In terms of the major question(s) to be examined, sources and methods to be used, feasibility of the project (avoiding a pile-up of too many questions or goals to be accomplished during the grant period), relationship of the project to the literature on the topic and its importance to the concerns of the discipline; attention paid to making the statement accessible for people outside the field.

2. Reference letters that show that writers are well informed about the student’s topic and research plans, indicating close communication between student and recommenders.

3. Overall strength of the applicant’s graduate academic record, including honors and publications, plus extent to which the record demonstrates a strength relevant to the proposed project

Instructions for Departments

  1. Announce an internal deadline when students must submit application in CARAT, choosing a date that will allow the department to complete the required ranking form by the submission deadline of December 10, 2020 at 11:59 p.m
  2. Once the required materials have been submitted by the applicants, the nomination procedure may vary. In some cases, a committee is formed; in others, the determination is made through informal consultation. In general, the determination is based on a combined evaluation of the applicant’s Statement of Purpose, the faculty letter of recommendation, and the overall performance of the student. A nomination form is to be completed by the department chair, and includes a rank order of the candidates. 
  3. Once the department has done its ranking and completed its nomination form, departments upload this nomination form to each student’s application in CARAT by the submission deadline of December 10, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. 
  4. Departments should review the terms and conditions outlined above when advising students on fellowship applications.