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The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program

Applications for the 2017 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP) Are Now CLOSED. Applications for the 2018 SIFP will open in September 2017.

Upcoming SIFP Application Deadlines (Tentative and Subject to Change):

2017 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program: Thursday December 1, 2016

2018 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program: Friday December 1, 2017

2019 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program: Monday December 3, 2018


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.

Enid A. Haupt Garden

Enid A. Haupt Garden


The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program supports independent research and study related to Smithsonian facilities, experts, or collection for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.

Program Description:

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

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

The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP) is open to:

  1. Graduate Students
  2. Predoctoral Students
  3. Postdoctoral Researchers and
  4. 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 10 weeks and are not available for periods of less or more than 10 weeks.

Predoctoral Student Fellowships*

Predoctoral Student Fellowships are typically 3 to 12 months in length (please see below for exceptions). Students must be enrolled at 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 (please see below for exceptions). The doctorate degree must be completed by the time the fellowship begins.

Saving the SSB

Senior Researcher Fellowships**

Senior Fellowships are typically (pls see below for exceptions) 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 one 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 one year SIFP through STRI’s Earl S. Tupper Fellowship. Tupper fellowships supplement Smithsonian Institution Fellowship (SIFP) awards by one or two years. See Tupper Fellowship for information on how to apply.

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**: $7,000.00 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 listed above.

**Graduate Student Fellowships are offered for 10 weeks and are not available for periods of less or more than 10 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 UHCto 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).

How it Works:

Applicants must propose research that is conducted at the Smithsonian in an area of research outlined in the publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (SORS). Applicants should 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. Current Smithsonian research staff members can be found here.

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.

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 one (1) year from the date of their award letter.
  • The fellowship must be completed within two (2) 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.



How to Apply:

Apply Through: SOLAA

Applications for centrally funded Smithsonian Institution Fellowships are not listed under the museum, research facility or office in which the applicant proposes to conduct research. Applicants for centrally funded Smithsonian Institution Fellowships need to select one of the applications found under the Office of Fellowships in SOLAA.

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

Applicants who wish to pursue opportunities in art and archaeological conservation, or conduct research and gain further training in Smithsonian conservation laboratories for conservation of objects in museum collections should consider applying for the Smithsonian Postgraduate Fellowship in Conservation of Museum Collections.

Applicants interested in pursuing collaborative research in fields involving comparative genomic approaches such as phylogenomics, populations genomics, metagenomics, or transcriptomics with a component that involves significant bioinformatics analysis should consider applying for the Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biodiversity Genomics.

Applicants interested in opportunities to conduct research into visual art that inspired new artwork should consider applying to the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

  • Applications must be received no later than 11:59 pm EST on December 1, 2016 via SOLAA
  • You should correspond with your proposed Smithsonian advisor(s) as you prepare your proposal (being sure to discuss potential research costs) with your proposed advisor(s) before submitting your application
  • All application materials must be presented in English (foreign transcripts may be translated)

Once you have created an account and logged into SOLAA you will need to complete all the required information including:Book-Conservator-Katie-Wagner-SIL2

  • Mailing address
  • Academic history
  • Current university or college
  • Identifying the committee you feel is most appropriate to review your proposal. Descriptions of different review committees are offered below.


Please be sure to apply for the correct year program cycle.


The following must be uploaded with your application:


  • No more than one (1) page

Research Proposal

  • The full statement of your research you plan to undertake at the Smithsonian
  • Maximum six (6) pages double spaced (not including references)
  • Paper size should be 8.5 by 11 inches (210 mm x 297 mm)
  • 12 point type

In preparing your proposal, be sure to provide and address the following:

  • Methodology
  • The importance of the work both in relation to the broader discipline and to your own scholarly goals
  • Justification for conducting your research at the Smithsonian and utilization of research facilities and resources
  • Identification of the member of the Smithsonian’s research staff who might serve as your principal advisor/host
  • Identification of potential co-advisor(s) and/or consultant(s) if applicable

Time Table

  • Estimate of time period for each phase of the research proposed
  • This needs to be uploaded for the application material name “Other” in SOLAA
  • Applicants should consider the following factors carefully when choosing the dates for the proposed fellowship: academic schedule, completion dates of their preliminary exams, course work, dissertation (if applicable), the schedule of their proposed advisor/host and the availability of required resources
  • 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

Budget and Justification

  • Budget and justification for equipment, supplies, research-related travel costs, and other support required to conduct the research itself
  • Do not include stipend and/or relocation costs
  • If the funds exceed the maximum research allowance, please explain the source of additional funds
  • Applicants for graduate student fellowships are not eligible for research and travel allowances and should not submit budget justifications


  • Bibliography of literature relevant to the applicant’s proposed research

Curriculum Vitae

  • Including previous and current fellowships, grants, and/or awards, and a description of your research interests.
  • If English is not your native language, describe the level of your proficiency in reading, conversing, and writing in English

Transcripts (unofficial are acceptable)

  • Transcripts (or other materials when transcripts are not issued) from all appropriate institutions are required except for senior fellowship applications
  • Applicants for graduate student fellowships must submit undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Applicants for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships need only submit graduate transcripts
  • Senior researchers may provide transcripts, but are not required to do so
  • If transcripts or other materials are not in English the applicant should provide translations


  • Names and email addresses of two persons familiar with your work. Ideally, don’t make your proposed SI advisor one of your referees because they already will have an opportunity to offer feedback about your proposal as part of the application review process
  • All reference letters are considered confidential unless confidentiality has been waived by the reference
  • Provide a copy of your proposal and a copy of Letter to Reference (downloadable pdf) to your references
  • Through SOLAA you will send an email to these referees so they can provide references through the web

In order to have the greatest impact on a candidate’s application, referees are asked to submit references no later than the application due date. However, references can be included with a candidate’s application packet up to one month after the application due date. Please note that while not having references included with an application does not automatically disqualify an application, the absence of references may weaken a proposal in the eyes of reviewers.

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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 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 Friday 4/7/17. 

The Smithsonian does not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status, marital status, sexual orientation, or participation in protected activity (find out more here).



Past Awardees:

A list of the 2014 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship awardees is available here.

A list of the 2015 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship awardees is available here.

A list of the 2016 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship awardees is available here.

Review Committee Descriptions

Anthropology (ANTHRO): Anthropology is the study of humans and their societies and cultures in the past and present including biology.

Earth Sciences (EASCI): Any of the various sciences, such as geography, geology, meteorology, that deal with the earth, its composition, or any of its changing aspects.

Evolutionary and Systematic Biology (ESB): the study of the diversification of living forms, both past and present, and the relationships among living things through time. Systematics is used to understand the evolutionary history of life on Earth. Applicants should further choose from one of the five subcommittees under ESB including Botany, Entomology, Invertebrate Zoology, Paleobiology, and Vertebrate Zoology.

History of Art (HART): History of Art (HART) fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution provide critical research and writing support to graduate, pre-doctoral, and post-doctoral scholars whose work — often object and/or artist-focused — contributes significantly to scholarship, particularly in the field of art history, and draws upon the unique strengths of Smithsonian collections, archives, libraries, and scholarly expertise.  HART fellowship applicants are strongly encouraged to identify the specific resources of selected Smithsonian art museums, archives, and libraries that are essential to the success of their projects and to reach out to Smithsonian colleagues well in advance of the application deadlines to identify potential advisors and to ensure that their research makes a good fit with staff and collection resources.

History of Science and Technology (HST): A field of study that examines the economic, political, and cultural impacts of scientific and technological innovation over time.

Interdisciplinary (IND): Applicants should select this category if their proposed research does not fit mostly in one of the others, but represents a mix of disciplines.

Zoology (ZOO): Research in Behavioral, Conservation, Evolutionary, and Population Biology primarily taking place at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute.

Social and Cultural History (SCH): A field of study that examines the traditions, conflicts, cultures, and experiences of various non-elite groups, classes, and movements in society.

Environmental Research (ENV): Research primarily taking place at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Some of the greatest challenges to our environment are in our most biologically productive ecosystems – the coastal zone, where 70 percent of the world’s population lives, works, and plays. Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland have led ground-breaking studies on the ecological dynamics between land and sea for over 40 years, including the world’s longest running study on the ecological effects of atmospheric CO2 change, and short and long-term studies on food web dynamics, invasion biology, coastal and upland ecosystem ecology, harmful algal blooms, ultraviolet radiation, biogeochemistry, and nutrient and trace element cycling. Insights gained in these systems will be crucial to developing science-based conservation plans that allow human societies to thrive while protecting our finite natural resources.

Tropical Research (TRO): Research in Evolutionary, Systematic, Behavioral, Environmental, Tropical, Conservation Biology and Archaeology primarily taking place at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.



My proposed project involves the use of live animals. What do I need to do?

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.

My proposal involves collections, facilities, or experts from multiple Smithsonian units, is that ok?

Totally ok , cross disciplinary proposals are often some of the most innovative and interesting.

I am currently or was recently a contractor for the Smithsonian, how does that affect my eligibility?

If the beginning of the fellowship starts more than a year after contract at SI, then you have nothing to worry about. If your proposed start date is within a year of your last day as a contractor, your proposal for independent study and research must be completely different from the services that you provided to SI as a contractor.

I have a figure that I want to include as part of my research proposal, can that be an attachment or does it need to be included within the 6 page proposal limit?

It needs to be submitted within those 6 pages please.

When I uploaded by research proposal I saw a warning about 1500 words - is the limit 1500 words or 6 pages?

If it comes up, feel free to ignore the SOLAA warning about 1500 words – as long as your proposal is on six pages, 8.5 x 11 inch, 12 pt font, double spaced – you’re good.

Does the 12 pt font, double space requirement extent to any figures, figure caption and tables that I include in my proposal?

No – as long as your figures, captions, and/or tables are readable, it’s fine.

When I went through the application I accidentally forgot to send reference requests to people writing references for me. What should I do?

Email us at siofi@si.edu and we can have the system generate reference requests for you, even if you have already submitted an application

The people I have asked to submit a reference for me have not yet submitted one, should I go ahead and submit my application/will this make my application late?

If it’s ready, go ahead and submit your application. Your references can submit a letter for you after the application deadline. However, better that they not wait more than a couple of weeks or your application may go to the review committee without the benefit of having a reference letter.

How many applicants are accepted for a Smithsonian Institution Fellowship?

Around 20% of applicants will receive an award for a fellowship.

If I want to conduct research in two Smithsonian museums, should I put both?

Yes put down both.

Do the consultants need to be associated with the Smithsonian?

No they do not need to be.

I already contacted my potential advisor, should I also contact co-advisor as well?

It would be great to contact both!

Regarding the time table, should I do a graphic table or can it be a list of dates and items?

Either is fine.

Does the bibliography have a maximum number of pages?

There is no maximum number of pages

I entered something that needs to be changed in my application, can I change it after the application deadline has passed?

If there is something entered as part of your application that needs to be changed after the application deadline (an address, proposed tenure dates, etc), please email siofi@si.edu to request the change – small technical changes shouldn’t be a problem to amend

However, in order to offer a fair review to all applicants, once the application deadline has passed we cannot accept changes to materials associated directly with your proposal (budget, timeline, abstract, bibliography, the proposal itself, references, etc).

I have a specific question about SIF that is not answered on this page. Who do I contact?

Contact the Office of Fellowships and Internships at 202-633-7070 or send an email to siofi@si.edu.

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