Massachusetts Historical Society

Research Fellowships FAQ



Do I need to hold a terminal degree to apply for a fellowship? Can independent scholars, students, or other professionals apply?

Our MHS-NEH Long-Term Fellowship Program is the only program that requires applicants to hold a PhD at the time of their application. A PhD is not required for MHS short-term fellowships, NERFC fellowships, and Loring fellowships. However, those without a PhD are asked to submit a letter of recommendation.

I am not a US Citizen - am I eligible for a fellowship?

Non-US citizens may be eligible for Short-Term, Loring, and NERFC funding provided they hold the appropriate paperwork that allows them to receive fellowship income (such as a J-1 visa). The MHS does not sponsor visas. It is the responsibility of the applicant to hold the appropriate paperwork. Long-term applicants must be US citizens or have lived in the United States for at least three years immediately preceding the application deadline.

Can I apply for more than one fellowship program?

Yes. Applicants must submit a separate application to each of the programs for which they wish to be considered. Note that unsuccessful Loring applicants will automatically be considered for an MHS Short-Term fellowship.

Can I be awarded more than one fellowship?

Yes, an applicant can be awarded multiple fellowships within one year.

I’ve won a fellowship from the MHS in the past. Can I receive the same fellowship, or another MHS fellowship, again?

Yes. For long-term applicants, priority will be given to applicants who have not received long-term funding in the past three years. Applicants who re-apply with a project that we have already funded in the past, and who show little evidence of progress, will likely not be considered for additional funding.

Do you fund non-academic projects that make use of archival research at the MHS?

The vast majority of our funding goes toward academic projects. However, we welcome all applicants and on rare occasions we do fund exceptional non-academic projects that make excellent use of our collections. Long-Term applicants must hold a PhD.

Application Requirements

What are you looking for in a cover letter?

Please briefly introduce yourself, your project and its significance, why you are applying for funding to research at the MHS or NERFC institutions.

How specific should I be about the material I want to look at?

The strongest applications are often very specific about at least some of the exact materials they would like to look at. This helps the selection committee determine if your project is a good fit for our collections and if you need the time you are requesting to complete your research. Applications that do not specify any specific materials are difficult for the committees to evaluate and justify funding.

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to search the Society's online catalog ABIGAIL, online collection guides, and/or consult with library reader services staff ( prior to submitting their proposals.

Some of the materials I would like to research are also digitized. Can I receive a fellowship to access your digitized collections? Can I receive a fellowship to come view digitized collections in person?

Priority is given to applicants who propose to use original materials in the Society’s Reading Room and who would otherwise not have access to the collections they seek to consult. Please also note that it is MHS policy that researchers must use digital facsimiles or microfilm editions when available to protect the original documents.

** Please note that during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 cycles, this preference has been waived. The MHS may elect to grant remote fellowships that rely on digitized materials.

I’m applying for an NERFC fellowship, but I’m not sure when I will be able to conduct my research. Can I use approximate dates in my application?

Yes. Please indicate the dates you intend to conduct research, but know that you may change these dates if you are funded.

Does my fellowship residency need to be consecutive? Can I complete two weeks in the summer, and two weeks later in the year?

Short term fellow research dates need not be consecutive. Fellows may break them up as is convenient for their schedules. Note that Long-Term fellows have separate requirements and must complete their residency months in a consecutive period. NERFC fellows must communicate with the relevant institutions as their itineraries change.

How do I submit my recommendation letters? When are they due?

Applicants request recommendation letters through our online application portal. The letters, if required, are due at the application deadline. Please note that you may initiate your recommendation request through our application portal at any time - you do not need to wait until your application is complete.

Deadlines and Announcements

When are the deadlines for the next fellowship cycle?

Long-Term: January 15, 2024
NERFC: February 1, 2024
Loring: February 15, 2024
Short-Term: March 1, 2024

When are decisions announced?

Long-Term: spring of 2024
NERFC: late March 2024
Loring: March 2024
Short-Term: early May 2024


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