Doctoral Fellowship Program

Fellowship awards overview

Applications have closed for the 2019 Doctoral Fellowship Program.

The Wilson Special Collections Library Doctoral Fellowships support research in Southern studies making significant use of the rich and deep research resources available in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s special collections.

The Doctoral Fellowship Program offers two types of awards to advanced graduate students researching the American South: 

  1. A Pre-Dissertation Prospectus Fellowship will allow doctoral students to explore Wilson Library to develop their dissertation proposals. This exploratory award will be granted for one month, and the research visit must take place during the summer research season, which extends from May 1 to September 1. Pre-Dissertation Prospectus Fellowships will be funded at $2,500 for one month.
  2. A Dissertation  Research Fellowship will support doctoral candidates whose dissertation project draws deeply and substantively on the Wilson Library. This research award will be granted for one, two, or three months depending upon demonstrated need to consult collection materials. The research visit must take place between May 1 and April 30. Dissertation Research Awards will be funded at $3,500 per month  for between one and three months of a research residency.

Fellowship eligibility

  • All citizens and permanent legal residents of the United States who are enrolled in a U.S. doctoral program are eligible to apply.
  • Foreign nationals residing in the U.S. on F-1 student visas in a doctoral program at a university in the U.S. are also eligible to apply.
  • Submit a research proposal and research plan that draws deeply and substantively on the collections of the Wilson Special Collections Library to support your dissertation.
  • Commit to a full-time research residency at Wilson Library for the duration of the award.
  • Agree to participate in the intellectual life of the Library and the fellowship program, which will include a public presentation of research findings and experiences and the submission of a brief research report. Fellows will also be invited to submit papers to a capstone symposium in Southern studies that will take place in 2021-2022.


Applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Merit of the proposal
  • Applicant’s qualifications and letters of recommendations
  • Demonstrated need to access in person the holdings of the Wilson Special Collections Library

Application instructions

All application materials must be received by February 15 and be submitted electronically using the Pre-Dissertation Prospectus Fellowship Application and the Dissertation Research Fellowship Application.

This online process includes an application form and the submission of the following materials:

  1. Research statement: A brief narrative (no more than 1200 words) that describes your proposed research and its intellectual significance.
  2. Research plan: A substantive preliminary list of Wilson Library resources that will be consulted during your residency. Brief annotations concerning the relevancy of a collection should be included.
  3. Curriculum vitae
  4. Two confidential letters of recommendation, one of which must be from your academic advisor.
  5. A letter from the Director of Graduate Studies confirming your current academic status.

Important 2019 fellowship dates

  • February 15, 2019: All application materials must be received by this date.
  • March 22, 2019: Successful applicants are notified by email.
  • March 29, 2019: Accepting applicants must return all required documentation by this date.
  • May 1, 2019: Opening of research season
  • September 1, 2019: Close of summer research season
  • April 30, 2020: Close of 2019-2020 research year

Awarding of funds

Payment will be issued in two parts. Half of the award is disbursed prior to the planned visit and the balance is released upon the successful completion of the defined visit.

The 2019 Doctoral Fellowships are generously supported by the Watson-Brown Foundation. Questions about the fellowships program or application instructions should be directed to