Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Program was created for Alaska Native and Pacific Islander scholars and others committed to the advancement of Indigenous Alaskan and Pacific Islander history and culture.

The fellowship is open to students who have completed all of the requirements, except their dissertation for a doctoral degree, in the humanistic and social sciences (e.g. Psychology, Literature, Alaska Native Languages, History, Anthropology, Indigenous Studies and related applied fields, including Interdisciplinary Programs combining areas of study).

Application Period is open for the
Writing Year of May 2020 - December 2020
Deadline is May 15, 2020

The Dissertation Fellowship Includes: 

  • A stipend of $30,000 for the writing year (normally, the beginning of a semester and ends after 8 months or at graduation whichever comes first) paid out monthly.
  • Up to $3,000 in travel funds to attend professional conference(s), carry out research, meet with other scholars, or other purposes that will foster degree completion or professional development.
  • Fellows will have the opportunity to take part in writing workshops.
  • Indigenous doctoral students will have peer mentoring and be involved in a seminar group.
  • Fellows may choose an additional mentor, outside of the UA or other university system, who is not on their dissertation committee and up to $1,000/semester may be provided to the mentor.
  • Up to $1000 is available for dissertation editing.

Terms and conditions of award:

During the tenure of the Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, the following conditions must be met:

  • A Mellon Foundation Dissertation fellow must be a full-time UAF graduate student and must devote at least 20 hours per week to writing directed by the major advisor or other mentor.
  • Any stipend or salary received by the student during the writing year other than the Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship must be reviewed and approved by the Mellon Foundation Review Committee – having other funding does not preclude submission of an application.
  • The graduate fellowship includes a $30,000 stipend for 8 months, tuition for up to nine (9) graduate (or other approved courses) credits per semester and payment of annual Graduate Student Health Insurance. The fellowship does not include payment of required fees.
  • The Graduate School will issue the fellowship award letter. Payment will be made monthly in 8 equal installments and tuition and Graduate Student Health Insurance will be posted to the student’s account after the Mellon Foundation Dissertation fellow has alerted the Graduate School that registration is completed.

Minimum qualifications:

  1. Applicants must be UAF students and admitted to a UAF Ph.D. program.
  2. Applicants must have completed all of the requirements for a doctoral degree except for the actual writing and analyzing phase of the dissertation. Specifically, applicants must have:
    • completed all required coursework,
    • passed all required comprehensive exams, and;
    • have advanced to candidacy prior to the writing year to be eligible to apply for this fellowship.
  3. Applicants must be either:
    • An Alaska Native or Pacific Islander scholar; or,
    • Any individual committed to the advancement of Alaska or Pacific Islander indigenous history and culture as demonstrated by the applicant’s research narrative.

Preferred qualifications

Preference will be given to those who can demonstrate:

  1. Evidence of exemplary academic ability, as indicated by such things as:
    • Successful completion of graduate courses
    • GPA of 3.0 or higher in graduate coursework
    • Active participation in academic seminars/conferences/workshops
  2. An ability and potential for success in dissertation writing, as indicated by such things as:
    • Quality of research narrative for fellowship application
    • Previous work and publications in relevant field
    • Strong academic references
  3. That their research addresses issues related to the natural or cultural environment of Alaska or the Pacific Islands;
  4. A history of service and engagement with Alaska or the Pacific Islands Native communities and to society as a whole, such as:
    1. Evidence of long term commitment to the advancement of Alaska or the Pacific Islands indigenous history and culture, as indicated by such things as:
      • Lifelong resident of Alaska or the Pacific Islands
      • Prior scholarly contributions around Native themes/issues
      • On-going participation in Native organizations/events
    2. Firsthand engagement with Alaska or Pacific Island Native languages and cultures as indicated by such things as;
      • Speaks a Native language
      • Practitioner of local cultural programs
      • Participation in cultural immersion activities/camps/programs
      • Who reside in or whose research requires extended periods of time in Alaska Native communities or the Pacific Islands.

Required materials

  1. A Research Narrative: Applicants must prepare a narrative of no more than seven single-sided pages (3.5 pages if double-sided) outlining their research project (including research questions, methodology, and data analysis strategies), its goals and objectives, relevant literature, and the project's contribution to the field. The goal of the narrative will be to place the project in context and outline the theoretical grounding as well as the project’s significance.;
  2. A Personal Narrative: Applicants must prepare a narrative of no more than four single-sided pages (2 double-sided page) that an addresses their knowledge,
    practice, and experience of Alaska Native or Pacific Islander languages and cultural traditions.
  3. Two Letters of Reference: Applications must include two letters of reference supporting their project, including one from a member of his/her graduate committee.
  4. A Timeline: Applicants must provide a detailed 12-month timeline for completion of the dissertation.


Thesis/Dissertation Completion Fellowship Application
Deadline for Fall 2020 funding is June 15, 2020