Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program

The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program  is the Smithsonian Institution’s centrally-funded flagship fellowship program. SI Fellowships are awarded annually to scholars wishing to conduct independent study or research at one or more of the Smithsonian’s 19 units and research centers. 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.

Smithsonian Institution Fellows conduct independent study and research related to SI collections, experts, or facilities in cooperation with at least one Smithsonian advisor.

The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program is administered through the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships (OFI).

The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program is open to:

  • Graduate Students
  • Predoctoral Students
  • Postdoctoral Researchers and
  • Senior Researchers

Graduate Student Fellowships

Graduate Student Fellowships are typically 10 weeks in length. 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. Graduate Student Fellowships are usually intended for students who have not yet been advanced to candidacy if in a doctoral program. Graduate student fellowships are offered for ten weeks and are not available for periods of less or more than ten weeks.

Predoctoral Student Fellowships

Predoctoral Student Fellowships are typically (pls see below for exceptions) 3 to 12 months in length. Students must be enrolled in a university as a candidate for the Ph.D. or equivalent. 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 Researcher Fellowships

Postdoctoral Student Fellowships are typically 3 to 12 months in length. The doctorate degree must be completed by the time the fellowship begins.

Senior Researcher Fellowships

Senior Fellowships are typically 3 to 12 months in length. Applicants must have held a Ph.D. or equivalent for at least 7 years.

Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows with advisors at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) are eligible for extended tenures beyond the 1 year SIFP through the Peter Buck Fellowship Program. Buck fellowships supplement one-year Smithsonian Institution Fellowship (SIFP) awards by one or two years. Buck awards may also include a research allowance for additional year’s study.

Postdoctoral Fellows with advisors at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) are eligible for extended tenures beyond the 1 year SIFP through STRI’s Earl S. Tupper Fellowship. Tupper fellowships supplement Smithsonian Institution Fellowship (SIFP) awards by one or two years. Please note, Tupper postdoctoral applicants can also submit a one-year SIFP fellowship.  However, this needs to be a separate application submitted through SOLAA with a separate description and research schedule.

All applicants for SI Fellowships, regardless of academic area, are eligible and automatically considered for the Secretary’s Distinguished Research Fellowship, which provides the awardee with a second year of support.

Stipend Allowances and Taxes

The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship award amounts are as follows:

  • Graduate Student Fellowship: $7000.00 for 10 weeks
  • Predoctoral Student Fellowship: $32,700 annually; research allowance up to $4,000 total.
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Fellowship: $48,000 annually; research allowance up to $4,000 total.
  • Senior Researcher Fellowship: $48,000 annually; research allowance up to $4,000 total.

Fellows in earth/planetary sciences and conservatory sciences are eligible to receive up to $5,000.00 over the amounts above.

Graduate student fellowships are offered for ten weeks and are not available for periods of less or more than ten weeks.  Research allowances are not offered for graduate student fellowships.

Stipends for all fellowships other than graduate students are pro-rated for periods of less than twelve months.

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

All funds provided under Smithsonian Institution 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.

In addition to a base stipend, awardees may receive allowances to assist with the fellow’s research related expenses and for temporary relocation to the Smithsonian. The budget for the research allowance should not include costs for relocation to the Smithsonian, which is awarded separately. A maximum research allowance of $4,000 is available. The amount awarded will be determined based upon the budget and justification presented by the applicant.

The Office of Fellowships and Internships cannot provide funds for the travel or living expenses of dependents.

Determination of the fellowship category for which to apply should be based on the anticipated academic level at the time the fellowship would begin.


The program is open to US citizens and Non-US citizens. 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).

Past or current fellowship recipients are eligible to apply for another award.

Who is Ineligible?

  • 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 (see FAQ below).

Conditions of Appointment

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

Smithsonian Institution Fellows must begin their fellowship within 1 year from the date of their award letter.

The fellowship must be completed within two years of the start date.

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.

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 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 and Internships.

Use of Smithsonian Facilities

Fellows will be assigned to a particular unit or department based upon the proposed primary advisor and research topic.

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, intralibrary loans, document delivery, database searching, and reference assistance.

Selection Criteria

The complete application will be reviewed by Smithsonian scholars in appropriate fields.  Applications will be evaluated on the following:

  • The proposal’s merit
  • The proposal’s relevance in terms of the Smithsonian’s Strategic Plan and how the research reflects one or more of the Four Grand Challenges
  • The ability of the applicant to carry out the proposed research and study
  • The extent to which the Smithsonian, through its staff members and resources, can contribute to the proposed research

Notification of decisions will be made no later than 4/8/16.

Application date
1 Dec 2016
3-12 months
America United States Mid-Atlantic New England
Humanities Anthropology, Ethnology and Folklore Archaeology Architecture Art & Art History Classical Studies Digital Humanities History History & Philosophy of Science Linguistics Literature Media Studies Medical Ethics Music & Musicology Philosophy Religion & Theology Social sciences Business and Administrative Sciences Communication Sciences Demography Economics Environmental Sciences Gender Studies Geography International Relations Law Pedagogic & Education Research Political science Psychology & Cognitive Sciences Social Anthropology Sociology Other Agronomy Biology Chemistry Computer science Engineering Mathematics Medicine Physics
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 99 years
Award granted
US$ 48.000/year + research allowance