Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Competition for Recent PhDs

The deadline for this program has passed. The description below is for information purposes only. Awardees in the 2019 competition will be announced this summer.

Fellowship Details

  • Stipend: $68,000 per year, health insurance coverage for the fellow, a relocation allowance, and up to $3,000 in professional development funds over the course of the fellowship
  • Tenure: Two years; start date on August 1 or September 3, 2019, depending on the fellowship position
  • Applications will be accepted only through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application system ( Please do not contact any of the organizations directly.
  • Application deadline: March 13, 2019, 9pm EDT
  • Notification of application status will occur by email starting late-May 2019.

ACLS invites applications for the ninth competition of the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program. This year, the program will place up to 21 recent PhDs from the humanities and humanistic social sciences in two-year term staff positions at partnering organizations in government and the nonprofit sector. Fellows will participate in the substantive work of these organizations and receive professional mentoring. Fellows receive a stipend of $68,000 per year and have access to individual health insurance, a relocation allowance, and up to $3,000 to be used toward professional development activities over the course of the fellowship term.

This initiative, made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to expand the role of doctoral education in the United States by demonstrating that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy. The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program allows PhDs to gain career-building experience in fields such as public policy, development, conservation, arts and culture, and media.

ACLS seeks applications from recent PhDs who aspire to careers in administration, management, and public service by choice rather than circumstance. Competitive applicants will be able to demonstrate sincere interest in the field of work of their selected fellowship and will have a record of success in both academic and extra-academic endeavors.

Applicants must:

  1. have a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences (see note on eligible fields below) conferred between September 1, 2015 and June 21, 2019
  2. defend and file/deposit their completed dissertations no later than April 5, 2019, and be prepared to verify this with official university documentation during the review and selection process
  3. possess US citizenship or permanent resident status

Prospective applicants should read through all the fellowship positions listed below and choose the one position that best fits their career goals. (Applicants may apply to only one position.)

The deadline for submitted applications is Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 9pm EDT.

Applications must include:

  • Completed application form
  • One to two-page cover letter tailored to a specific position and addressed to the host organization
  • One to two-page résumé
  • Two reference letters

Please note that finalists may be asked to provide institutional documentation of PhD conferral (or, if the degree has not yet been conferred, an institutional statement from the registrar attesting that the dissertation defense and deposit have been completed and confirming the degree conferral date).

Only complete applications, submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application system by the deadline, will be considered.

Selection Criteria

All eligible applications will undergo ACLS’s peer-review process. Applicants who advance to the final round of review may participate in interviews with ACLS staff and staff from the host organization. Reviewers will look for:

  1. Applicant’s academic and extra-academic accomplishments
  2. Demonstrated relationship between past experience and the required qualifications of the position, as well as overall fit for the position
  3. Demonstrated commitment to pursuing a career within the relevant field

Notification of application status will occur by email in late-May 2019.

Participating Agencies and Positions

This year's partnering organizations and positions will be announced soon. Full descriptions of the positions will then be available, including detailed information on the hosting organization and requisite qualifications. Click on the below positions to view the PDF of the full description, which includes detailed information on the hosting organization, the position, and requisite qualifications. Read the description carefully for any application instructions specific to the given position.

  1. Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, GA) – Community Engagement & Audience Development Manager
  2. American Public Media (St. Paul, MN) – Senior Research Analyst
  3. Center for Court Innovation (New York, NY) – Communications Project Manager
  4. Chicago Humanities Festival (Chicago, IL) – Program Manager
  5. Citizens Committee for the Children of New York (New York, NY) – Policy & Budget Analyst
  6. Committee to Protect Journalists (New York, NY) – Research Manager
  7. Community Change (Washington, DC) – Policy Advisor
  8. Data & Society Research Institute (New York, NY) – Editor
  9. The German Marshall Fund of the United States (Washington, DC) – Program Officer
  10. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (Hartford, CT) – Grants Manager
  11. Library of America (New York, NY) – Outreach Programs Manager
  12. National Conference of State Legislatures (Denver, CO) – Legislative Policy Specialist
  13. National Low Income Housing Coalition (Washington, DC) – Research Analyst
  14. Natural Resources Defense Council (Washington, DC) – Campaign Advocate, Latin America Project
  15. PEN America (New York, NY) – Festival Programs Manager
  16. Public Books (New York, NY) – Associate Editor
  17. Rare (Arlington, VA) – Community Engagement Manager
  18. Reinvestment Fund (Philadelphia, PA) – Policy Analyst
  19. Seattle Office for Civil Rights (Seattle, WA) – Senior Researcher
  20. San Francisco Arts Commission (San Francisco, CA) – Community Impact Analyst
  21. World Justice Project (Washington, DC) – Program Manager

Applications for these positions are accepted solely through the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program. Only complete applications, submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application system ( by Wednesday, March 13, 2019 9pm EDT, will be considered.

Do not contact any of the host organizations with questions. Questions about the fellowship program should be directed in writing to (no calls please), though we will not field questions about the particulars of specific positions or the organizations. Please carefully review the program information, the positions, the sample application, and the FAQ before contacting ACLS.

Note: The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program does not accept applications from candidates holding PhDs in the fields of business, public policy or public administration, education, clinical or counseling psychology, journalism, creative writing, library and/or information sciences, law, social work, social welfare, urban planning, public health, filmmaking, performing arts, or any field of pre-professional or applied study. Master’s degrees, even if they are the terminal degree in the field, will not be accepted as substitutes for the PhD. For the purpose of this competition, the humanities and related social sciences include but are not limited to American studies; anthropology; archaeology; art and architectural history; classics; economics; ethnic studies; film; gender studies; geography; history; languages and literatures; legal studies; linguistics; musicology; philosophy; political science; psychology (excluding clinical or counseling psychology); religious studies; rhetoric, communication, and media studies; sociology; and theater, dance, and performance studies. PhDs in the social science fields listed above are eligible only if they employ predominantly humanistic approaches (e.g., economic history, law and literature, political philosophy, history of psychology). PhDs in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary humanistic studies are welcome. If your degree field is not listed above, and you have questions about your eligibility, please contact For more information, visit the FAQ page. Back to text.