The purpose of the Society is to give scholars at an early stage of their scholarly careers an opportunity to pursue their studies in any department of the University, free from formal requirements. They must be persons of exceptional ability, originality, and resourcefulness, and should be of the highest calibre of intellectual achievement, i.e. manifesting extraordinary creativity and shaping the future direction of their chosen field. These Junior Fellows are selected by the Senior Fellows, with whom the President and Provost of the University, and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, ex officio, administer the Society. Those elected receive three year fellowships.
The Society was organized in 1933 under the terms of a gift from A. Lawrence Lowell, then President Emeritus of Harvard. This gift was made in memory of Mr. Lowell's wife and is known as the Anna Parker Lowell Fund. Mr. Lowell was convinced of the value of informal discussions between scholars in different academic fields. Hence, from the time of its foundation, the Senior and Junior Fellows have met for dinner every Monday night during term-time and they are frequently joined by visiting scholars. Junior Fellows also lunch together twice a week.
To be eligible for a Junior Fellowship, a candidate must be at an early stage of their scholarly career. People interested in any field of study are accepted. Most Junior Fellows receive the Ph.D. just prior to the start of the fellowship. If still pursuing the Ph.D., Junior Fellows should be at the dissertation stage of their theses and be prepared to finish their degrees within a year of becoming fellows. If already a recipient of the degree, they should ideally not be much more than a year past the Ph.D. at the time the fellowship commences. Candidates may be renominated.
The number of Junior Fellows at any one time normally is limited to thirty-six, and usually twelve are chosen each year. The term of appointment is three years, and no extensions are granted. During the academic year, Junior Fellows are required to reside in Cambridge or close-by neighboring communities and to regularly attend all of the weekly lunches and dinners. Junior Fellows are expected to work full-time in the office or lab space provided to them by the University during term time. Junior Fellows are not subject to examination, are not required to make reports, receive no credit for courses, and may not be candidates for any degree other than the Ph.D. Those who are still pursuing the Ph.D. should have completed their routine training for advanced work and should be well along in the writing of their theses before becoming Fellows. They may complete the writing of their theses and proceed to such final or special examinations as the universities of their candidacies may require, and may be granted the degree of Ph.D.
Junior Fellows are selected for their resourcefulness, initiative, and intellectual curiosity, and because their work holds exceptional promise. They are free to devote their entire time to productive scholarship. They may undertake sustained projects of research or other original work, or they may devote their time to the acquisition of accessory disciplines, so as to prepare themselves for the investigation of problems lying between conventional fields. Because of this complete freedom of choice and action, it is important that candidates should have demonstrated their capacity for independent work.
During 2022/2023 the stipend for Junior Fellows in their first year will be $94,000. The facilities of most branches of the University, both for instruction and for research, are open to Junior Fellows. Candidates whose research requires substantial laboratory space or extensive equipment should explore arrangements with the appropriate members of the faculty at Harvard for the necessary support. If there is any problem in this regard candidates should inform the Chair.
Candidates are nominated for Junior Fellowships, generally by those under whom they have studied. Applications are not accepted from candidates themselves. A letter of nomination should include an assessment of the candidate's work and promise i.e. a full letter of recommendation as well as the candidate's complete contact information, including current residential mailing address and email address, and the names, mailing addresses, and email addresses of three addtional people who have agreed to write letters of recommendation by late August.
The Society will request that the letters of recommendation be submitted electronically - not by email, but through an upload to a secure portal site. Interfolio letters are not accepted. After receipt of the nomination, the three referees will be contacted on a rolling basis beginning in mid-July by our office by email and asked to submit their letters within 3 weeks of the date of our communication. They will be provided with a link to the submission portal (this is why full and accurate email addresses are necessary to process the nomination). Instructions for uploading letters will be provided to each referee, along with a password to enter the secure site.
On the basis of the materials submitted, the Senior Fellows select a certain number of candidates for interview. It is from this number that the final selection is made. The Society pays the traveling expenses of those candidates interviewed.
In accordance with Harvard University policy, the Society of Fellows does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or handicap in admission to access to, treatment in, or employment in its programs and activities. The following office has been designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies: the Office of the Assistant to the President, Smith Campus Center, Room 935, Cambridge, MA 02138. In addition, inquiries regarding the application of nondiscrimination policies many be referred to the Regional Director, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 5 Post Office Square, 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02109.