The Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) offers six to twelve months of support to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who are enrolled in PhD programs in the United States and conducting dissertation research about non-US or US Indigenous cultures and societies. The IDRF program especially welcomes applications from underrepresented institutions. Sixty fellowships are awarded annually. Fellowship amounts vary depending on the research plan, with a per-fellowship average of $23,000. The fellowship includes participation in an SSRC-funded interdisciplinary workshop upon the completion of IDRF-funded research.
The program is open to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences—regardless of citizenship—enrolled in PhD programs in the United States. Applicants to the 2021 IDRF competition must complete all PhD requirements except on-site research by the time the fellowship begins or by December 2021, whichever comes first.
In addition to international dissertation research, the program invites proposals for dissertation research with US Indigenous peoples — Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, or Pacific Islanders — on Native topics that are conducted within the United States. Proposals on non-US topics that identify the United States as a case for comparative inquiry are welcome. Other proposals that focus predominantly or exclusively on the United States are not eligible. Applications for dissertation research can be grounded in a single site, informed by broader cross-regional and interdisciplinary perspectives, or can be multi-sited, comparative, or transregional.
Applicants from select disciplines within the humanities (Art History, Architectural History, Classics, Drama/Theater, Film Studies, Literature, Musicology, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Political Theory, and Religion) may request three or more months of funding for international on-site dissertation research in combination with site-specific research in the United States, for a total of six to twelve months of funding. All other applicants (for example, those in Anthropology, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology, among others) must request six to twelve months of on-site, site-specific dissertation research with a minimum of six months of research outside of the United States. Research within the United States must be site-specific (e.g., at a particular archive) and cannot be at the applicant’s home institution unless that institution has necessary site-specific research holdings. Please note that the IDRF program supports research only and may not be used for dissertation write-up or data analysis.
Applicants who have completed significant funded dissertation research in one country by the start of their proposed IDRF research may be ineligible to apply to the IDRF to extend research time in the same country. Eligibility will be at the discretion of the IDRF program, depending on completed research time and funding. The IDRF program expects fellows to remain at their research site(s) for the full six- to twelve-month funding period. The IDRF program will not support study at foreign universities, conference participation, data analysis, or dissertation write-up. The program does not accept applications from PhD programs in law, business, medicine, nursing, or journalism, nor does it accept applications in doctoral programs that do not lead to a PhD. For more information on the 2021 IDRF competition, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.
The IDRF competition promotes a range of approaches and research designs beyond single-site or single-country research, including comparative work at the national and regional levels and explicit comparison of cases across time frames. The program is open to proposals informed by a range of methodologies in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, including research in archives and manuscript collections, fieldwork and surveys, and quantitative data collection.
Applicants are expected to write in clear, intelligible prose for a selection committee that is multidisciplinary and cross-regional. Proposals should display a thorough knowledge of the major concepts, theories, and methods in the applicant's discipline and in other related fields, as well as a bibliography relevant to the research. Applicants should specify why an extended period of on-site research is critical for successful completion of the proposed doctoral dissertation. The research design of proposals should be realistic in scope, clearly formulated, and responsive to theoretical and methodological concerns. Applicants should provide evidence of having attained an appropriate level of training to undertake the proposed research, including evidence of a degree of language fluency sufficient to complete the project. For more information on the 2021 IDRF competition, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.