China Fellowship Application Guidelines
The next round of Wilson China Fellowship applications will open in Spring 2024.
Thank you for your interest in the Wilson Center China Fellowship, a 1-year non-residential fellowship (August to August) focusing on China’s impact on Asia or the United States across a wide variety of issue areas. The Wilson Center invites American scholars, practitioners, journalists and public intellectuals to apply. Fellows conduct research and write in their areas of interest, publish their research through the Wilson Center, and will have the opportunity to interact with policymakers and thought leaders in Washington. The Center accepts policy-relevant, non-advocacy fellowship proposals that build understanding of China and its impact for Asia and/or the United States. For further details on our Fellows and their research, please visit our Wilson China Fellowship website!
This fellowship is available to U.S. citizens only, although they may have residency anywhere around the world. Women and men with outstanding capabilities and experience from a wide variety of backgrounds (including academia, business, government, journalism, law, and other professions) are encouraged to apply. Candidates must have received a PhD or JD from an accredited university on or after January 1, 2009.
The Wilson Center will not accept:
- Applicants working on a PhD or JD degree (even if the degree is to be awarded prior to the proposed fellowship year) or who received a PhD or JD prior to January 1, 2009.
- Proposals of a partisan or advocacy nature.
- Primary research in the natural sciences.
- Projects that create musical composition or dance.
- Projects in the visual arts.
- Projects that are the rewriting of doctoral dissertations.
- The editing of texts, papers, or documents.
- The preparation of textbooks, anthologies, translations, and memoirs.
Notes on Eligibility
You do not need an institutional affiliation to apply. Scholars and practitioners who previously held research awards or fellowships at the Wilson Center are not precluded from applying for a fellowship. However, the nature and recency of the prior award may be among the factors considered during the selection process.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility or the suitability of your project, please e-mail the China Fellowship Administrator at ChinaFellowship@wilsoncenter.org.
Applications that satisfy the eligibility requirements are subsequently subjected to a multi-stage review process involving both internal evaluations by Wilson Center experts and a Selection Board composed of experts from inside and outside the Wilson Center.
The basic criteria for selection are:
- significance of the proposed research, including the importance and originality of the project;
- the relevance of the project to contemporary policy issues; try to convince the reader that there is some urgency or importance in your work that can resolve a larger problem.
- the relevance of the project to the programmatic work of the Center;
- quality of the proposal in definition, organization, clarity, and scope; describe what the reviewers will learn from your project, why it is important, and how the reviewer will know your conclusions are valid. A clear hypothesis or step-by-step argument of a central problem helps capture the essence of your work for the reviewer. Also describe your methodology, i.e. how and why your approach is the best way to deal with such a problem. Since each field has different methodologies that the reviewer may not know, tell the reader what archives, sources, and techniques you plan to employ.
- capabilities and achievements of the applicant and the likelihood that the applicant will accomplish the proposed project; not only should your proposal demonstrate how you have the technical know-how and ability to reach some conclusion, but that the conclusion is not preconceived. The proposal should convince the reviewer that there is something genuinely at stake with your inquiry and that your project will yield interesting results.
- potential of a candidate to actively contribute to the life, priorities, and mission of the Center by making expert research accessible to a broader audience; remember that one of the Center's main goals is to help inform policymakers to make well-informed decisions.
The Center welcomes in particular those projects that transcend narrow specialties and methodological issues of interest only within a specific academic discipline. Projects should involve fresh research-in terms of both the overall field and the author’s previous work. Special consideration will be given to proposals involving topics that are understudied, unconventional, unique, emerging, or new within academic and policy discussions. It is essential that projects have relevance to public policy, and fellows should want, and be prepared, to interact with policymakers in Washington, Wilson Center staff, and other scholars who are working on similar issues.
Some final tips--start your proposal early, and have friends or colleagues review it. Debate over your proposal will help you answer questions reviewers may have. Sharpen your language and style, especially your opening paragraph. Be to the point so that the reviewer knows exactly what you mean--the Center does not conduct interviews, so make sure that your proposal is clear and concise.
Alignment with Programs and Cross-Regional Initiatives
The Center accepts policy-relevant, non-advocacy fellowship proposals that address key challenges confronting the United States and the world. Priority will be given to proposals which align with the programmatic work of the Center and can result in work that reaches a broad audience. Within this framework, the Wilson Center supports projects that intersect with contemporary policy issues and provide the historical and/or cultural context for some of today’s significant public policy debates.
The Center offers a stipend of $20,000 for a one-year non-resident fellowship (August 2023 to August 2024). Fellows are responsible for their own health insurance and research-related travel expenses. The Center will cover costs associated with program-related travel to Washington to support the Fellowship’s conference.
Length of Appointment
Fellows are expected to be non-resident Fellows for one calendar year from the start date. Fellowships may not be deferred.
Conditions of Award
Fellows will be required to provide a Work-in-Progress report, participate in internal meetings with other fellows and Wilson Center staff to discuss their work, share ideas, and receive feedback from their peers. In addition, Fellows are encouraged to offer a presentation of their work publicly, during the annual Wilson Center Fellow’s conference, and/or participate in other Center programming as available. The Center expects all Fellows to seek ways to share their expertise with the Washington policy community, and to sustain engagement with the Wilson Center and the Fellowship Program after the completion of the Fellowship, as an alum. The form of such interaction could range from a deep background briefing for an executive branch agency to an informal roundtable discussion with members of Congress and their staffs, as available.
Deadline for Applications
The Center holds one round of competitive selection per year. Fellowship applications must be submitted online by June 15th, 2023. Applicants are notified of the results of the selection process in July 2023.
All applications must be completed online – the Wilson Center will not accept materials submitted via email or by other means. A complete application must be submitted in English, and will include the following:
- the Fellowship Application Form, submitted online;
- a Project Proposal (not to exceed five single-spaced typed pages, using 12-point type);
- a current CV (not to exceed three pages, not including publications);
- two letters of reference.
Based on the subject matter of their proposal, applicants will be directed to identify their application between two categories:
- Rising American Sinologists: for proposals focused on U.S.-China relations.
- Rising American Asianists: for proposals focused on China’s impact in or across Asia.
The Project Proposal
It is essential to make your project clear to individuals outside your own field and to explain its broader implications. The proposal should not exceed five single-spaced typed pages using 12-point type, and be submitted in PDF or MS-Word format. The following elements should be addressed in the proposal:
- a detailed description of the topic and its importance;
- the originality of the proposed study (explain what makes the project distinctive);
- the basic ideas and hypotheses;
- the methodology to be used (including the activities you will undertake to gather the data you need for your project and the techniques that you will use to analyze the data in order to prove your thesis);
- the present status of your research, including how much has already been done in relevant collections and archives, and what you would hope to accomplish through this Fellowship;
- the materials that will be used and the importance of Washington-area resources;
- explain why you chose the Wilson Center for your project;
- the relevance of the project to contemporary policy issues; and
- the relevance of the project to the programmatic goals of the Center.
Applicants who would like suggestions on preparing the proposal can read “The Art of Writing Proposals,” published by the Social Science Research Council.
Letters of Recommendation
Two letters of reference must be submitted online by the submission deadline. It is your responsibility to ensure that we receive your references letters. Applications missing reference letters will be considered incomplete. Your referees should be familiar with you and your work, and you should send them a copy of your project description so that they can comment specifically upon your proposed study, your qualifications for undertaking it, and how you and/or your work would contribute to the Center’s goal of bridging the gap between the world of learning and the world of public affairs. Reference letters must be written in English. Do not send letters written for another purpose, such as those for a job application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to follow up with their referees to confirm that they have sent their letters to the Center. Letters of recommendation should be sent by the referees to ChinaFellowship@wilsoncenter.org.