Helpful information for fellowship applicants

Helpful information for fellowship applicants

I.  Eligible fields and Selection Criteria

For the Visiting Scholars Program:

II. Writing a Research Proposal

A strong research proposal is a key component of the application.

The proposal should, in a few pages, explain your research plans, including your research approach and methodology. A clear research proposal allows a reviewer to understand what you wish to do, how you will do it, and why it is intellectually valuable.

For helpful general advice on writing a research proposal, please visit:

The Art of Writing Proposals:

III.  Recommendation Letters

A strong letter of recommendation can be a tremendous asset to an application. The best letters serve as advocates for a candidate’s application, highlighting what is original and outstanding about the applicant’s research. Therefore, it is best to ask for recommendation letters from those who are well acquainted with you and your work as well as the Harvard-Yenching Institute and its fellowship programs. A colleague who is familiar with your research and career and well understands the mission of HYI programs can paint a clearer and more substantive picture of why you are a strong candidate.

We strongly suggest that you provide  a description of the fellowship program and a copy of your CV and research proposal (or dissertation description) for your colleagues who will write letters for your application.

IV. Interviews

Select candidates will be invited for an interview. Interviews are held in late December or early/mid-January in the applicant’s country of residence. Each interview lasts for approximately 20-30 minutes and is conducted by a panel of 3 interviewers. Interview panels typically consist of one Harvard faculty member and two HYI alumni, and the interview is conducted entirely in English.

Candidates are evaluated on their ability to think originally and critically about their concerned field and to articulate their research and academic pursuits in English.  This is an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves and their research in greater depth. This type of interview can be intimidating for some candidates, and they may feel that they have no control over the panel. However, it is important for candidates to present themselves confidently in the conversation, including speaking clearly and making eye contact with the panelists. Candidates should feel free to ask questions if they need clarification on an issue.

V. The application review process

The Harvard-Yenching Institute’s application review process lasts from the end of September (when applications are received) to late February (when selection results are announced). During this five month period, each application goes through several stages of review.

In October and November, all applications undergo faculty review. Applicants who pass through this initial screening will be invited for an interview to be conducted in their country of residence.  All candidates will be contacted in late November or early December about the status of their application.  Please feel free to write to us if you have not heard about your application review process by mid-December.

Interviews are typically held in late December or early January in a central location in your country of residence. The interview panel evaluates each candidate, but does not make selection decisions. In February, a HYI Selection Committee (made up of faculty members from multiple disciplines) reviews all application files, including the candidate’s research proposal, recommendation letters, and comments/rankings from the screener and interview panel. Following the final decisions of the Selection Committee, applicants and universities are notified of the results in late February.