Fellows and staff engaging at Belfer Orientation 2019

The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs offers research fellowships during the academic year to individuals who wish to devote their time to research and writing in the fields of science and international affairs. Fellows are selected by the Center's major research programs and are expected to work collaboratively with other Center researchers, as well as on their own projects. The Belfer Center Fellowship Program is known for its selectivity and the high quality of its participants.

Belfer Center fellows research a wide variety of topics, ranging from security issues such as nuclear proliferation and terrorism, to climate change and energy policy. Recent fellows have come from countries as diverse as Pakistan, Russia, Korea, Iran, Israel, India and China, and from professions including academia, business, government and the media.

Areas of Research

To review the research areas of available fellowships, please consult the 'Fellowships' tab. For proposals that span Belfer research programs, applicants may direct their applications to more than one project or program on the application form, but please note that applicants are expected to have existing expertise in their fellowship's research area.


The Center's programs and projects offer a variety of both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral research fellowships. Fellows are appointed for ten-month appointments from September through June, with a possibility for renewal.

Fellows are expected to devote some portion of their time to collaborative endeavors, as arranged by the appropriate program or project director. Pre-doctoral research fellows are expected to contribute to the Center's research activities, as well as work on — and ideally complete — their doctoral dissertations. Post-doctoral fellows are also expected to complete a book, monograph, or other significant publication during their period of residence. All fellows are expected to be in the Cambridge area for the duration of their fellowship.

Stipend Information

Stipends for research fellows vary by fellowship. Please review the individual fellowship pages through the 'Fellowships' tab for specific funding information.

Interested candidates are encouraged to apply for other sources of funding. All applicants should indicate on their application form whether they are seeking full or partial funding from the Center. Non-stipendiary appointments are also offered.

Submission of a formal application is required for all fellowship applicants, whether they need funding or have independent support.

For more information

email belfer_fellowships@hks.harvard.edu 

The 2020-2021 fellowship application period is closed and will reopen in late fall of 2020.

Application Requirements

  • CV/ Resume
  • Unofficial transcript (pre-doctoral fellow applicants only)
  • Research statement (3-5 pages)
  • Writing sample (less than 50 pages)
    • Should be one published or unpublished piece written by the applicant (co-authored pieces not accepted) in English that will demonstrate his/her English-language writing ability
    • Can be a journal article, book chapter, dissertation chapter, white paper, etc. you have produced in your field
  • Contact information for 3 recommenders submitting letters on your behalf

All applications must be submitted via the online application portal. No other method of application submission will be accepted. 

The 2020-2021 fellowship application period is now closed. 


Pre-doctoral candidates must have passed their general examinations and have made significant progress on their dissertations in order to be considered. Applications for fellowships are welcome from recent recipients of the Ph.D. or equivalent degree, university faculty members, and employees of government, military, international, humanitarian, and private research institutions who have acquired appropriate professional experience. The Belfer Center seeks applications from political scientists, lawyers, economists, those in the natural sciences, and others of diverse disciplinary backgrounds. The Center also encourages applications from women, minorities, and citizens of all countries.

Applying for a Research Fellowship

  • Is my research topic compatible with a Belfer Center fellowship program's area of research?

    The Belfer Center offers a variety of different fellowship programs; please review the program descriptions carefully to find the fellowship(s) best suited to your research proposal. If you have further questions, please contact the fellowship's program coordinator listed on the fellowship program's webpage.

  • Can I apply for multiple fellowships?

    Applicants are expected to have existing expertise in their fellowship's research area. Please only apply for fellowships that are aligned with your area of research.

  • What should be included in the application?

    Please click on the left-hand 'Application Requirements' tab to review. 

  • May I submit additional materials with my application (i.e. additional letter of recommendation)?

    No. We are unable to review any additional documents beyond the required materials.

  • Who should write my recommendations?

    The strongest recommendations come from individuals who can speak to your scholarly qualifications. 

  • How should my recommenders submit their letters, and when are they due?

    When you submit your application, you will be required to provide contact information for three recommenders. Your recommenders will immediately receive emailed instructions on how to upload recommendation letters to our application database. Recommendation letters are due by February 3. 

    Please submit your application promptly to give your recommenders sufficient time to upload their letters. After submitting your application, follow up with your recommenders to ensure that they have received the submission instructions and understand the deadline.

  • How do I know that my recommender’s letter has been submitted?

    You and your recommender will receive an email confirmation from belfercenter@gmail.com once each recommender submits a document. If you do not receive an email from this address, check your spam or junk mail folders.

  • My recommender cannot find the email instructions. What should I do?

    First, instruct your recommender to check their spam filter for an email sent from belfercenter@gmail.com at the time you submitted your application. The automated email is often caught in spam. Additionally, please make sure that belfercenter@gmail.com is added to the recommender's approved senders list or request that the relevant IT department add it. 

    If your recommender still cannot find the email, e-mail belfer_fellowships@hks.harvard.edu with the name and email address of the recommender who needs the instructions resent.

  • Are letters of recommendation confidential?

    Yes. Individuals submitting recommendations on behalf of applicants will receive email instructions to submit their recommendations online.

  • Can I edit my application after it has been submitted? Should I resubmit my application if I have important updates before the application deadline?

    Applications cannot be edited after submission. Only submit full and final applications.

    Under no circumstances should you submit a duplicate application. Duplicate applications generate duplicate emails to recommenders and complicate the recommendation submission process. If you are concerned about whether an application went through successfully, email BCSIA_Fellowships@hks.harvard.edu.

  • When will I hear back about my application?

    All applicants will receive notice about the results of their application by the end of March.

  • May I defer my fellowship offer to the next academic year?

    No, candidates are not allowed to defer fellowship offers. Fellowship offers are only extended for the academic year to which candidates initially apply.

Eligibility for Research Fellowships

  • If I do not need funding, do I need to formally apply for a fellowship?

    Yes, submission of a formal application is required for all prospective fellows, whether they are stipendiary or non-stipendiary.

  • Are Belfer Center pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships available for non-Harvard students?

    Yes. We very much welcome applications from non-Harvard students for these fellowships, all of which are listed in the upper "Fellowships" tab. Other Belfer Center fellowships and scholarship programs may have different eligibility requirements.

  • Will Belfer accept D.Phil. degrees as Ph.D. equivalents?


  • I am in a Ph.D. program, but have not passed general examinations; am I eligible to apply for a pre-doctoral fellowship?

    No, pre-doctoral fellows must have passed general examinations and have made significant progress on their dissertation.

  • May I apply as a post-doctoral applicant if I expect to have completed my Ph.D. degree by the time the fellowship begins?

    Yes. However, please note that fellows will be paid at the listed pre-doctoral rate and will not be eligible to receive benefits through their appointment  until the program/project receives confirmation of Ph.D. completion.

  • May I apply for a fellowship if I am not a U.S. citizen?


  • Is visa sponsorship available for fellowship recipients?


  • Does the Belfer Center award fellowships for studies to be conducted at other universities?


  • Does the Belfer Center grant degrees?

    No. Prospective applicants wishing to pursue doctoral or master's degrees at the Harvard Kennedy School should consult the HKS Admissions Page.

  • If I receive a fellowship offer, may my spouse/partner receive a Harvard affiliation?

    No. Fellowship offers are for fellowship applicants only.

The Research Fellowship

  • How long is the fellowship?

    Fellowships are typically ten-month appointments from September through June, and, in certain circumstances, may be renewable.

  • Does the fellowship come with a stipend, benefits, and housing?

    Stipends and benefits vary between projects. Please review the project's fellowship page for further information. Housing is not included in Center fellowships.

  • Do I need to be in residence for the duration of the fellowship? May I split my time with another fellowship program?

    Fellows are expected to be in residence for the duration of the fellowship and should spend no less than 4/5 of their time on their Center-related research and writing projects. If a fellow is teaching (or serving as a teaching fellow for) one course per term, you should not, in most cases, plan to commit to additional remunerative activities. Any such activities should be discussed in advance with your Fellowship Program Director. Outside obligations such as a concurrent fellowship appointment that interfere with the performance of your Belfer Center responsibilities are not acceptable.

  • What is academic life like at the Belfer Center?

    Research fellows play a very important role in the Belfer Center community. Fellows are encouraged to present their research within and outside the Center, collaborate on papers or projects with other fellows and faculty, attend and take an active role in Belfer Center seminars and conferences, and we hope that fellows will immerse themselves in the greater University community during their appointment.

HKS Main Campus

Harvard Kennedy School Main Campus (Source)

Research fellows play a very important role in the Belfer Center community. Fellows are encouraged to present their research within and outside the Center, collaborate on papers or projects with other fellows and faculty, attend and take an active role in Belfer Center seminars and conferences, and we hope that fellows will immerse themselves in the greater University community during their appointment. Boston and Cambridge offer countless places of historical interest, sporting events, dining, outdoor activities, music, museums, and theater.

Life in Cambridge

Long known for being a place of ideas, the city of Cambridge has left an indelible impression on United States history. The first printing press was created here in 1639. American troops of the Revolutionary War gathered in Cambridge in 1775. And the city was the first seat of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1780. What's more, the city is home to some of the most premier universities in the country and boasts a culturally diverse and ethnically rich population of more than 100,000.

Just across the Charles River, Boston is rich with its own history, with many cultural landmarks, businesses, and attractions to be explored. Charming and distinct neighborhoods welcome visitors from all around the globe with their intimacy and their own unique contributions to making Boston and its surrounding area the cultural hub of New England.

Take part in the countless artistic activities encompassing fine art, music, museums, and theater. Or hop on one of many city tours, make reservations at some of the best restaurants in the country, or just sit by the Charles and enjoy the view. It's hard not to get wrapped up in the allure of one of the oldest — and finest — cities in the United States.

Community Resources

In most cases, research fellows move to Cambridge, Boston, or the surrounding suburbs for their ten-month appointment. Belfer Center fellows have access to all Harvard University facilities including libraries, gym memberships, and many activity discounts. Below are some resources you may find helpful if you are considering joining the Harvard community:

The application period for the 2020-2021 Fellowship Application is now closed and will re-open in the Fall of 2020.

Recommendations will be due on February 3, 2021. Decisions will be announced by March 30, 2021.