ACLS Fellowship Program to Focus On Supporting Early Career, Non-Tenured Scholars

July 20, 2020 Press Release — The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) announced today that it will redirect the funding focus of the ACLS Fellowship Program to support early career, non-tenured scholars exclusively.

The decision comes in the wake of the disproportionate effect the current economic downturn has had on emerging independent scholars and those without tenured positions, as well as on academic programs in the humanities and social sciences more broadly.

Starting with the 2020-2021 competition and continuing through the 2021-2022 round, the ACLS Fellowship will limit eligibility to non-tenured scholars who have earned their PhD within the past eight years (October 2012 onward). This includes faculty on the tenure track and scholars without faculty appointments, as well as scholars serving as adjuncts, contingent faculty, and in other non-tenured roles. 

In the 2020-2021 competition year, the program will award 50 fellowships of up to $60,000 each to support research with strong potential to advance its field of study and make an original and significant contribution to knowledge. Fellows who are independent or adjunct scholars also will receive an additional $3,000 in research support.

Learn more about the new ACLS Fellowship eligibility requirements.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout we expect to see for years to come, early career and non-tenured scholars are facing extraordinary obstacles to conducting research,” said ACLS President Joy Connolly. “ACLS remains steadfast in its mission to support the advancement of humanistic scholarship and advocate for the centrality of the humanities and social sciences in the academy. This mission is especially critical in the current economic and social climate and drives our decision to focus on supporting those who are most vulnerable. By investing in their capacity and ability to advance promising research now, we are investing in a strong future for the academy.”

In addition to the fellowships, this program will continue to award a limited number of ACLS Project Development Grants of $5,000 each to applicants from teaching-intensive institutions not selected for fellowships, but whose proposals show great promise. 

Aligned with our 2020-2024 Strategic Priorities and as part of our ongoing commitment to inclusive excellence, ACLS invites proposals that represent the breadth and diversity of humanistic scholarship across all fields of study, and especially welcomes applications from scholars from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the academy.

ACLS will also continue to support faculty and scholars at all career stages through other competitions in its broad portfolio including the Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowships, the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs, the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, and the ACLS Digital Extension Grants. This coming year, ACLS is consulting with a range of constituents in the development of grant and fellowship programs to support scholars at every career stage.

The ACLS Fellowship program is funded primarily by the ACLS endowment, which has benefited from the generous support of esteemed institutions and individuals including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Arcadia Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the ACLS Research University Consortium and college and university Associates, past fellows, and friends of ACLS.

The ACLS online fellowship and grant applications platform will be open for this and other competitions in late July. For more information about the ACLS Fellowship Program, as well as new and ongoing ACLS grant and fellowship programs, please visit

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