Southern Studies Doctoral Fellowships

COVID-19 Update

Due to the continuing impact that the COVID-19 emergency is having on our Library and Campus operations, we are not accepting applications for any Wilson Fellowships for the 2021-2022 academic year.  We anticipate accepting applications in December 2021 for the 2022-2023 fellowship cycle. The guidelines below are available for reference.

Fellowship awards overview

Wilson Special Collections Library is pleased to announce the Southern Studies Doctoral Fellowships which support researchers making significant use of the rich and deep research resources available in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s special collections. Two types of awards are available to advanced graduate students researching the American South:
  1. The Pre-Dissertation Prospectus Fellowship allows early doctoral students to explore Wilson Library’s collections to develop their dissertation proposals. This exploratory award is granted for one month.  The research visit must take place during the summer research season, which extends place between June 1 and September 1 in the year awarded. The total award is $2,500.
  2. The Dissertation Research Fellowship is awarded to doctoral candidates whose dissertation project draws deeply and substantively on the collections in Wilson Library. This research award can support a one- to three-month residency depending upon demonstrated need to consult collection materials. The residency must take place during our Research Year which extends from June 1 to May 31. The award is $3,500 per month.
A list of past Doctoral Fellowship recipients can be found here.

Fellowship eligibility

  • All applicants must be full-time students in good standing who are enrolled in a doctoral program studying the American South.
  • Foreign nationals residing in the United States on an F-1 student visa who are enrolled in a doctoral program studying the American South are eligible to apply.
    • Foreign nationals, enrolled in a doctoral program at a foreign university, who do not hold a current US Visa may apply.  However, if awarded a fellowship, the research residency and the payment of funds cannot occur before an appropriate US visa has been obtained.
  • All applicants must commit to a full-time research residency at Wilson Library for the duration of the award.
  • All applicants must submit a research proposal and research plan that draws deeply and substantively on the collections of the Wilson Special Collections Library.
  • All applicants 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.
Please see the Wilson Library Doctoral Fellowship Guidelines for more details on applying for a fellowship, accepting a fellowship, and planning your residency.

Application instructions

All application materials must be received by midnight on the application due date and be submitted electronically via Interfolio using, as appropriate, the Pre-Dissertation Prospectus Fellowship Application or the Dissertation Research Fellowship Application. The online application requires the submission of the following supporting materials:
  1. Research proposal: 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.
Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
  • 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


  • December 1: Applications open for electronic submissions via Interfolio
  • January 31: All application materials must be received by this date.
  • March 31: Successful applicants are notified by email.
  • April 30: Accepting applicants must return all required documentation by this date.
  • June 1: Opening of Research Year
  • September 1: Close of Summer Research Season
  • October 1: Summer Research Reports due. All other research reports are due one month after completing the research residency.
  • May 31: Close of Research Year

Awarding of funds

Fellowship awards will be disbursed after the completion of a fellowship residency.  It is strongly recommended that fellows arrive with the funds necessary to support their research residency. These Southern Studies Doctoral Fellowships are generously supported by the Watson-Brown Foundation. Questions about the fellowships program or application instructions should be directed to Matt Turi via