Fellowship Applications & Guidelines


The following are informal guidelines to the various fellowship calls that are issued annually, providing both students and faculty with current information about what to include in applications and recommendations. 

For QE and Dissertation fellowships: faculty recommendations are most helpful to the Graduate Program Committee when they provide a substantive assessment of student progress in some descriptive and evaluative detail.  The letters are for our own internal use but, if written with an eye to the future, they may be useful to faculty as preliminary versions of the external recommendations they will be writing.

Research and Travel Awards
(Department call issued twice a year, once in the fall and once, for Summer Research & Travel, in the spring quarter)

For Research & Travel awards, the department gives overall priority to language study and archival or other research-related requests, reflecting our central aim of supporting student progress to completion of degree.  Conference subvention, given lower priority (except for the MLA for job interviews) is generally limited to one conference per year. Applications for travel to collections should be specific, naming the libraries and archives where the research will be conducted.  Students may also apply for reimbursement for already-completed travel.

Award: stipend
Decided by:  GPC
Eligibility: satisfactory progress towards degree, enrolled during quarter of research or presentation.

Submit: a completed application including purpose of travel, the name of institution or conference, travel expenses, itemized budget, supporting materials or documentation for expenses, a list of any previous R&T awards and a list of other sources applied to for the expenses.

General guidelines:
When applying for Research support, such as a Literature Department Research & Travel Grant, GSA Travel Grant, or the IHR Summer Research Fellowship, please follow these guidelines:

  • Address the requirements of the call.
  • State at the outset of your application what the money will be used for. “I am applying for a xxxx award to make a research trip to the xxx library / archive in xxx.”
  • Include brief statement of other support for which you have applied at UCSC or elsewhere.
  • For a research trip to a library or archive, be specific about what you need to consult. “To develop chapter 4 of my dissertation, on xxx, I need to consult xxx’s correspondence with…;” or “issues of the specialized journal xxx (year range), not available online and held only in this library and xxx;” or “archives dealing with xxx held by the xxx library/institution/museum”; or “manuscript BNF fr. 794” in order to ascertain the xxx not evident in published editions.”
  • Provide a clearly legible budget, preferably with all the dollar amounts aligned in a column and a total at the bottom.

QE Fellowships

For QE fellowships, the department gives priority to those students whose portfolio materials are sufficiently well developed to ensure that they will QE in the quarter of or immediately following the fellowship. The application materials are evaluated on the basis of how well prepared they show the student to be for the projected date of the exam.

Award: Stipend and partial payment of fees equivalent to that of a TA position
Decided By: GPC
Eligibility: Ph.D. students making satisfactory academic progress who plan to take the Qualifying Exam in 2018-19.

The application includes the following materials: 

  • A timeline for QE completion, with approximate dates for the submission of the QE portfolio or materials and the oral exam.
  • Draft versions of the QE paper, topic statement and comprehensive bibliography.
  • A letter of support from the QE committee chair confirming progress on the portfolio materials.  Recommendation letters should provide a substantive assessment of student progress in some descriptive and evaluative detail. 

Dissertation/Post-Doctoral Fellowships

For Literature Department dissertation fellowships:

The department gives internal priority to:

  1. Timing in student career: those who will complete the dissertation in that year or the next.
  2. Students who have not received prior support and who provide evidence of applying for other awards.
  3. Merit: student abstract and timeline, especially relationship of the fellowship to completion of specific chapter(s), and faculty letter of support, providing a substantive assessment of student progress in some descriptive and evaluative detail.

Award: Stipend and partial payment of fees equivalent to that of a TA position
Decided by: GPC
Eligibility: Must be registered, advanced-to-candidacy, and making satisfactory academic progress at the time of application

Guidelines for all dissertation fellowships, internal and external:

Carefully familiarize yourself with the description of the fellowship:

  • What is the granting agency: Literature Department? Humanities Division? Graduate Division? a general institution (such as the National Endowment for the Humanities)? a specialized institution (for, e.g., Women’s Studies, Italian Studies, etc.)? This will give you an idea of who will be reviewing your application and, therefore, what degree of technical expertise you can assume. In general, it is better to err on the side of accessibility. Assume an intelligent but non-specialized reader.
  • Contact your letter writers as soon as you know you will be applying for a fellowship. Tell them what the fellowship is (include a copy or url of the call, if available), the deadline for their letter submission, and when you will send them the latest version of the material you want them to consider in drafting their recommendation.
  • Your “timeline” or “plan of completion” should be brief and uncluttered. Describe the progress of your dissertation to date: how many chapters (e.g, “two of five”) and in what state of completion (“polished draft,” “preliminary draft,” etc.). Give timetable for completion of remaining chapters and for revision. Do not include descriptions of the content of your chapters; these belong in the abstract. If no separate timeline is requested, it is a good idea to include one as the last paragraph of your application letter.

Develop your abstract.

As you build the repertoire of fellowships for which you have applied, you will find yourself composing abstracts of varying lengths, from 250-500 words to three or four pages.

  • Use your dissertation title as a header and/or mention it in the first sentence.
  • Whatever the length of the abstract, your prose should be as streamlined as possible. Eschew adverbs of degree and bulky nominal or prepositional phrases where a simple, well-chosen verb will do. Avoid redoubling nearly synonymous nouns, verbs, or adjectives. Avoid overly artful turns of phrase that may be modish in your field but risk seeming mannered to non-specialists.
  • Incorporate contextual guideposts that will help situate the non-specialist reader. On first mention of any person (writer, artist, critic, historical figure), give the conventional form of that person’s full name. Make sure to identify succinctly all but the most celebrated figures: “the twelfth-century Neoplatonist philosopher xxx” or “the post-war Canadian playwright xxx,” etc.
  • On first mention of a text, give the publication date or date of composition in parentheses immediately following.
  • To the extent that your stage of writing permits, summarize not your topic but your thesis. Write in the present tense (“In chapter 2, I argue…” rather than “In chapter 2, I will explore…”).