The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP)

Smithsonian Institution (SI)

Suggest an update

Grant amount: US $7,500 - US $54,400

Deadline: Nov 1, 2020 7:59pm PST

Applicant type: Research Scientist Unaffiliated Researcher Graduate Student Faculty Postdoctoral Researcher

Funding uses: Research, Fellowship

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

Degree requirements: Applicants must have a completed PhD

View website    Save Need help writing this grant?

About this funder:



 General Information for Applicants

The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program offers opportunities for independent research or study related to Smithsonian collections, facilities, and/or research interests of the Institution and its staff. Fellowships are offered to graduate students, predoctoral students, and postdoctoral and senior investigators to conduct independent research and to utilize the resources of the Institution with members of the Smithsonian professional research staff serving as advisors and hosts. These fellowships are offered through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships, and are administered under the charter of the Institution, 20 U.S. Code section 41 et seq.

Applicants who wish to conduct research at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) should go here as SAO application requirements and deadlines may be different.

The publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study, outlines Smithsonian research activities and lists the research staff. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact staff members to help identify potential advisors, determine the feasibility of the proposed research being conducted at the Smithsonian Institution, and the availability of relevant resources such as staff, collections, archives and library materials during the proposed tenure dates.

The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program offers fellowships for research and study in the following fields and encourages applications of an interdisciplinary nature:

  • Animal behavior, ecology, and environmental science, including an emphasis on the tropics
  • Anthropology, including archaeology, cultural anthropology, linguistics, and physical anthropology
  • Astrophysics and astronomy
  • Earth sciences and paleobiology
  • Evolutionary & systematic biology
  • Folklife
  • History of science and technology
  • History of art, especially American, contemporary, African, and Asian art, twentieth-century American crafts, and decorative arts
  • Materials research
  • Molecular biology
  • Social and cultural history of the United States

Criteria for Selection

Applications are evaluated and fellows are selected, by scholars in appropriate fields, on the basis of the proposal’s merit, the applicant’s ability to carry out the proposed research and study, the likelihood that the research could be completed in the requested time, and the extent to which the Smithsonian, through its research staff members and resources, could contribute to the proposed research. The number of appointments made each year is determined by the availability of funds for the program. The Smithsonian Fellowship Program does not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, or disability.

Conditions of Appointment

Predoctoral fellowships are awarded for periods of three to twelve months. Postdoctoral and senior fellowships are awarded for periods of three to twenty four months.* Appointment periods are in accordance with the applicant’s proposal for the research, unless the length of tenure requested is considered by reviewers to be more than required. All graduate student fellowships are ten weeks long. In accepting an appointment, the fellow will be expected to devote full-time effort to the research proposed and to be in residence at the Smithsonian except for approved absences.

Financial support, in addition to a Smithsonian fellowship, for such purposes as research travel and equipment may be received from other sources provided that no special demands are made upon the fellow’s time. Permission to receive additional stipend support must be requested in writing from the Office of Fellowships & Internships.

Fellowship tenures must begin between June 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021. It is important that applicants consider the following factors carefully when choosing the dates for the proposed fellowship: their academic schedule; completion dates of their preliminary exams, course work, or dissertation (if applicable); the schedule of their proposed advisor/host and the availability of required resources.

Appointments of three months or longer must begin on either the 1st or 15th of the month. The dates of tenure proposed in the application (and any change of dates if the fellowship is awarded) should be selected in agreement with the proposed principal advisor.

In submitting an application for a fellowship at the Institution, the applicant does not incur any obligation to accept the appointment if selected.

*Second Year Funding Opportunities at (SERC)

Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)

  • Post-Doctoral Fellowships at SERC are awarded for periods of no more than one year. However, Post-Doctoral Fellowship applications can be written for up to two years of support with the understanding the second year is contingent on three conditions: (1) submission of a new proposal for the second year of funding that explains progress made during the first year of support, (2) a successful ranking of the new (second-year) proposal by the SERC SIFP evaluation committee, and (3) availability of funds to support the second year request.
  • For two-year proposals, please create one document (max 3MB) that clearly distinguishes between the research, timeline, and budget for each year (one and two) of the research (the budget limit is $4000 in year one and $4000 in year two, itemized separately). The applicant is evaluated on the scholarly objectives of the research and the potential for success both in year one alone, and over a two year period should the second year be granted.

Use of Smithsonian Facilities

Fellows will be provided with space to conduct their research within the department in which they are working. Applicants should consult in advance with their proposed advisor(s) regarding the availability of facilities and necessary equipment. The amount of support services available to the fellow will be determined by the workload of the department and the policy of the department chairperson and/or unit director. Fellows have access to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries with privileges which include borrowing library materials, interlibrary loans, interlibrary loans, document delivery, database searching, and reference assistance.

Stipends and Allowances 2020

Senior Fellowships -for scholars at least seven years beyond the Ph.D.

  • 3-12 months
  • Stipend: $50,400 per year
  • Research Allowance: up to $4,000 per year

Postdoctoral Fellowships – for scholars up to seven years beyond the Ph.D.

  • Term: 3 to 24 months
  • Stipend: $50,400 per year
  • Research Allowance: up to $4,000 per year

Predoctoral Fellowships -for doctoral candidates to conduct dissertation research.

  • Term: 3 to 12 months
  • Stipend: $36,000 per year
  • Research Allowance: up to $4,000 per year

Ten-Week Graduate Student Fellowships -for graduate students to conduct independent research usually before having been advanced to candidacy if in a Ph.D. program.

  • Term: 10 weeks
  • Stipend: $7,500

Stipends are prorated for periods of less than twelve months. In addition to the stipend, allowances to assist with the fellow’s research related expenses and for temporary relocation to the Smithsonian are possible. In most cases a maximum research allowance of $4,000 per year is available. Research allowances are not offered for graduate student fellowships. The amount awarded will be determined based upon the budget and justification presented by the applicant. The budget for the research allowance should not include costs for relocation to the Smithsonian, which is awarded separately. The Office of Fellowships & Internships cannot provide funds for the travel or living expenses of dependents.

Smithsonian fellowship stipends are not salary or compensation. They are meant to support study and research during the tenure of the appointment.

All funds provided under Smithsonian fellowships, including stipends and research and travel allowances, are subject to tax. Fellows awarded stipends receive a financial summary at the end of each calendar year and are responsible for meeting their own state and federal tax obligations.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Qualifications for Application
    • Applicants are encouraged to propose to conduct research in-residence at the Smithsonian in one of its areas of research as outlined in the publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study, for a period of three to twelve months, or ten weeks for the Graduate Student Fellowship. Past or current fellowship recipients are eligible to apply for another award.
    • Applicants whose native language is not English are expected to have the ability to write and converse fluently in English. All application materials must be presented in English (foreign transcripts may be translated, see below).
    • Determination of the fellowship category for which to apply should be based on the anticipated academic level at the time the fellowship would begin:
      • Graduate Student Fellowships: When they apply, students must be formally enrolled in a graduate program of study at a degree-granting institution. Before the appointment begins fellows must still be enrolled and must have completed at least one full-time semester or its equivalent, or have completed the graduate program within the past four months. Graduate Student Fellowships are usually intended for students who have not yet been advanced to candidacy if in a doctoral program.
      • Predoctoral Fellowships: Students enrolled in a university as candidates for the Ph.D. or equivalent are eligible for predoctoral fellowships. By the time the appointment begins, the university must approve the undertaking of dissertation research at the Smithsonian Institution and certify that requirements for the doctorate, other than the dissertation, have been met.
      • Postdoctoral Fellowships: The doctorate degree must be completed by the time the fellowship begins.
      • Senior Fellowships: Applicants must have held a Ph.D. or equivalent for at least 7 years.
  • Applicants who wish to conduct research using live animals must submit their proposals for review by one of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC). Review for animal welfare concerns and approval of procedures by one of these committees must occur before a fellowship can begin.
  • We welcome cross-disciplinary proposals.


  • No employee or contractor of the Smithsonian Institution may hold a Smithsonian fellowship during the time of his/her employment or contract.
  • A fellowship may not be awarded to any person who has been employed by or under contract to the Institution in the previous year without the prior approval of the Office of Fellowships