Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy

Center & Institute Fellows Program

Center & Institute Fellows Program

The Humanities Dissertation Release Program allows the College, in conjunction with departments, to provide a one-semester release from teaching or related service. Students receiving a Humanities Dissertation Release are also eligible to apply for a Center & Institute Fellows Program Award. Recipients of a Center/Institute Fellows Program Award receive a research scholarship along with other opportunities, provided by specific Centers or Institutes, on top of the Humanities Dissertation Release.

The following Centers and Institutes currently partner with the College of the Liberal Arts in making these awards available to enrolled graduate students.

Students may apply to be a fellow in more than one Center or Institute; however, applicants will not be awarded affiliation with more than one program.

  • Africana Research Center
  • Center for American Literary Studies
  • Center for Democratic Deliberation
  • Center for Language Acquisition
  • George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center
  • Humanities Institute
  • Rock Ethics Institute

To be eligible for a Center & Institute Fellows Award, applicants must meet the following Humanities Dissertation Release criteria:

  1. Applicants must be receiving a Humanities Dissertation Release in the College of the Liberal Arts; this means that they must be ABD and supported on an assistantship during the semester of the release and must receive a full one-term release from teaching and other duties from their home department/program.
  2. Applicants are expected to remain in residence at University Park (the Graduate Director may give permission to travel for the sake of research or other legitimate academic purposes).
  3. Applicants may not hold any other academic appointment during the semester of release.
  4. Applicants must have an approved dissertation proposal before beginning the semester of their release.

Applications for the Center/Institute Fellows Program should include:

  1. A completed Information Summary Form
  2. A cover letter containing:
    1. A brief description of the dissertation project and its connection with the focus of the Center or Institute to which the student is applying
    2. Status of the dissertation proposal
    3. A timetable for completing the dissertation
    4. A statement explaining the student’s interest in participating in the activities of the Center/Institute while engaged as a fellow
    5. A statement indicating preference (if any) between fall 2024 or spring 2025 release
  3. Verification in the form of a memo from the Director of Graduate Studies indicating eligibility for the Humanities Dissertation Release in the 2024-2025 academic year
  4. A curriculum vitae (no more than three pages)

Applications are received by the home department and forwarded to Alena Sunderland at

The deadline for receipt of applications is Monday, April 1, 2024, at 5:00 p.m.