Frequently Asked Questions


Am I eligible for funding if I have not yet completed a master’s degree?
No. All applicants must already hold a master’s degree.

Am I eligible to apply for the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowship if I’m an African citizen based in a university outside of Africa?
No. Applicants must reside in and be citizens of a sub-Saharan African country while enrolled in a PhD program in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, or Uganda.

I don’t hold a faculty position but I am enrolled in a PhD program in one of the six eligible countries. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes. As of May 2015, the program prioritizes applicants holding a faculty position or demonstrating a durable commitment to higher education, but does not restrict eligibility to such individuals.

Does the dissertation research have to be conducted in one of the six eligible countries?
No. The proposed research can take place anywhere in the world.

What disciplines are eligible for support through this fellowship program?
The fellowships are available to applicants from all disciplines in the social sciences, including anthropology, economics, history, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology. Fellowships are also available to PhD candidates from related fields, such as law or even the humanities, provided that the applicant engages social science literature and uses social science methodologies.

I am currently a lecturer at a university in one of the six countries supported through this fellowship, and I am working on my doctoral dissertation proposal, as I plan to enroll in a PhD program in the next few months. Am I eligible to apply even though I am not yet enrolled in a PhD program?
Yes, as long as you will enroll in a PhD program within the next year. Specifically, you are eligible to apply for the doctoral dissertation proposal fellowship.

Am I eligible for funding through this program if I already hold a PhD?
No. This fellowship program is only available to applicants who are enrolled in PhD programs but have yet to complete the degree. Applicants who have completed a master’s degree, but are not yet enrolled in a PhD program are eligible to apply for the proposal development fellowship.

May I be enrolled in a “sandwich program” and apply for a fellowship?
Only candidates who will return to their home institution, having completed the courses by the time the fellowship begins, will be eligible to apply for a fellowship. Candidates who will still be taking courses outside their home country once the award period would begin may not apply for a fellowship.

While I hold a lecturer position at a university in one of the countries where you offer fellowships, I currently am pursuing my PhD at a university based outside Africa. I am committed to remaining in my faculty position upon completion of my PhD. Am I eligible to apply?
No. Applicants must be enrolled in a PhD program in Africa.

Is there an age limit?
Applicants with a faculty position should be at least 10 years away from the age of retirement.


If I receive a Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowship, do I have to attend a workshop? I have a longstanding obligation that coincides with the dates of one of the workshops.
Yes. If awarded a fellowship, you must attend one workshop in its entirety. If you know that you will be unable to be present, you should not apply to the program. The workshops take place in July and January.

Do I have to pay my own way to attend the workshops?
No. If awarded a fellowship, your expenses (airfare, hotel, meals, ground transport) will be paid for by the SSRC. SSRC staff will make arrangements for travel and accommodation or in rare cases offer you a maximum sum with which to arrange your own needs.

Application Process

How do I apply for the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowship?
The application is available on the program website. You must send us your complete application electronically through the online application portal available at

When is the deadline for the 2015 application?
Applications must be received by 13 November, 2015. The two reference letters and any language evaluation(s) must also be received by the same deadline.

Where do I find the Reference Letter and Language Evaluation forms?
All application materials, including these forms, are found on the online application portal.

Should my dissertation supervisor serve as one of my two referees?
Yes, at least one of the two reference letters should be submitted by the dissertation supervisor under any circumstances. For the second referee, please select a colleague that can testify to your ability to successfully complete your research.

Should my referees submit their letters of recommendation and the referee forms on their own, or should I include the letters in my application?
Referees should upload their letters of recommendation directly through the online application portal. Applicants will be directed to an automated request service which sends detailed instructions to their referees directly via email.

Do you have examples of proposals that have been awarded fellowships? No. The program does not provide examples of successful proposals. For suggestions on proposal writing, we encourage you to consult the “Art of Writing Proposals,” an article with advice on the construction of a research proposal or project statement.

Can I submit my application even if my Reference Letters and Language Evaluation(s) have not been received?
Yes. You are strongly encouraged to submit your application well in advance of the deadline in order to avoid missing the posted deadline. There is no need to wait for your Reference Letters and Language Evaluation(s) to be received in order to submit your application – they will be automatically added to your application.

Application Components

How many references do I need and whom should I ask to write references for me?
Two. One Reference Letter must come from your dissertation supervisor and a second letter should be from someone who is familiar with your work and academic interests. Only two Reference Letters will be accepted. Any additional letters will be discarded.

Do I need to submit a Language Evaluation?
Applicants conducting research in another language are required to submit a Language Evaluation with their application. Language evaluators should be qualified individuals who are able to test your proficiency in the language(s) needed for your on-site research at the time of your application. Ideally, your evaluator will be a language instructor at your home or an affiliate university. Departmental language exams will not be accepted as proof of language proficiency. You do not need to submit a Language Evaluation if you will be conducting research in your native language(s).

Do Reference Letters and Language Evaluations need to be submitted in English?

Are there formatting requirements for the Project Proposal and Bibliography?
Yes. Your Project Proposal and Bibliography should not exceed twelve pages in total, preferably collated as ONE single Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) file. Project Proposals must be double-spaced and not exceed ten pages in length (including any appendices or end notes). The Bibliography must not exceed two pages and must be in standard bibliographic format and may be single-spaced.The Project Proposal and Bibliography must be in Times New Roman 12-point font type with one-inch margins on all sides. Project Proposals must be formatted with double-spacing. Footnotes and endnotes may be single-spaced but must be included within the ten pages. Project Proposals not adhering to these guidelines will not be considered.

Can I submit photographs or charts with my application?
Yes, but any non-textual material must be included within the ten-page limit.

Do I need to submit transcripts with my application?

Fellowship Awards

What are the selection procedures?
Fellows are selected by the members of the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowship Program Committee, who use established peer review procedures. The Fellowship Program Committee includes distinguished members of the academic and research communities of Africa, Europe, and North America.

How many awards are offered in a given year?
As many as 45 awards are offered in a given year across all three fellowship opportunities and all six eligible countries.

What happens if my project is selected for funding?
You will be asked to submit an estimated budget outlining the funds you will need to complete your project. This will be taken under consideration, along with any other funds you may have received, when your final award amount is determined. You will also need to submit the following documents before award monies will be issued:

  1. A letter from the applicant’s home institution (university department or faculty, museum, or other research center), which indicates acceptance of the terms of the award and support for the applicant’s project. This letter must be composed on institutional stationery and must be officially stamped and signed.
  2. A photocopy of the highest university degree obtained by the applicant. The photocopy must bear an official university stamp.
  3. A photocopy of relevant pages of the applicant’s passport.
  4. A statement, composed and signed by the applicant, declaring that the applicant will work full-time on the project during the fellowship period, forgoing any other employment, consultancy, business, or extended travel away from the site of the project.

What is the grant amount?
Fellowship award amounts will vary depending on the fellowship opportunity and in the case of applications for doctoral dissertation research awards the research plan. Support will be provided for travel and living expenses as well as associated research costs.

What does the Dissertation Research fellowship cover?
The Dissertation Research grant will cover fellows’ travel, research, and living expenses for up to twelve months of research.

I am applying for multiple grants. Should I be awarded an SSRC Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa grant, can I also accept funding from other sources?
Yes, but fellows cannot accept funding from the SSRC and another organization for the same expenses at the same time. The SSRC program will work with fellows to construct a budget that is acceptable to SSRC and to other funding organizations. Please note that you cannot hold a fellowship from the African Humanities Programme at the same time as a fellowship from the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Program.

Do the awards go directly to the fellows or are they channeled through a university or institution?
All awards are paid directly to the fellows.

Does the SSRC offer support for visas and research clearances?
No. Fellows are responsible for their own travel arrangements and research clearances.

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