Frequently Asked Questions:
Prospective Applicants

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Q: Do I have to be an underrepresented minority to apply for this fellowship?
A: No. The Program is open to all persons who meet the eligibility criteria without regard to race, gender, or ethnicity.

Q: The mentor I hope to work with does not have an appointment in one of the schools/colleges noted (Dentistry; Education; Engineering; Environment and Sustainability; Public Policy; Kinesiology; Music, Theater and Dance; Nursing; Public Health; Social Work). May I still apply?
A: No. You may, however, be eligible for other U-M programs. See, for example, the LSA Collegiate Fellows Program and the Society of Fellows.

Q: Can I still be considered if I do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency?
A: Yes.  Successful applicants must present documents demonstrating that they are legally authorized to work in the United States without restrictions or limitations. The University will not sponsor employment visas for this fellowship. Please note that in compliance with federal law, all persons selected will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification document form upon hire. Information regarding citizenship, gender, race and ethnicity is requested for statistical purposes only and will not be provided to the Selection Committee.

Q: Can I apply if I have a JD, MD, MFA or EdD instead of a PhD?
A: Yes, applicants with terminal degrees in their field may apply as long as they are preparing for a career in university teaching and research.

Q: I'm an assistant professor. Can I still apply?
A: The fellowship is designed to give new scholars an opportunity to become more competitive candidates for tenure-track faculty appointments. It is not a fellowship program for individuals already on the tenure-track to take time out for research with the intention of staying at their current institution. Candidates with tenure-track appointments are not eligible.

Q: I received my PhD over 5 years ago. Am I still eligible to apply for this fellowship?
A: Yes. You are still eligible to apply if you are preparing for a career in university teaching and research. Do address your particular career path in your application.

Q: I will finish my doctorate after July 1, next year. Am I still eligible to apply this fall?
A: No. You must complete your doctorate on or before July 1 of the year following your application. Potential applicants who expect to complete their doctorate after July 1 should apply the following year.


Q: How do I find a faculty mentor?
A: Applicants are encouraged to identify potential faculty mentors through professional contacts in their field. You may also look for an appropriate mentor by reviewing the literature and searching university websites for faculty who are working in your area of interest.

Q: Are assistant professors allowed to be faculty mentors?
A: The program encourages applicants to select a tenured faculty member as their mentor. However, in some cases assistant professors can be excellent prospective mentors.

Q: What are the expectations of the faculty mentors during the fellowship?
A: Please see the Mentor guidelines page.

Q: May I select a faculty mentor from my current department or campus?
A: The program encourages applicants to look for a mentor outside their current department and their home campus unless they can articulate a strong reason for remaining in the same academic location in their research proposal and/or education background statement. For the University of Michigan program, this FAQ only applies to current University of Michigan Ph.D. students, postdocs, etc. who are interested in applying to the University of Michigan postdoc program; applicants from other institutions (i.e., not the University of Michigan) should identify a mentor in the most appropriate UM academic department.

Q: Can I select a retired faculty member to be my faculty mentor?
A: The program encourages applicants to select an active faculty member as their mentor. However, in some cases retired faculty who are still fully involved in their department and their research program are excellent prospective mentors.

Q: Can a faculty member serve as a mentor for more than one applicant?
A: Yes, faculty may serve as a mentor for more than one applicant for the President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

Q: What should be covered in my faculty mentor's letter of support?
A: The e-mail sent by the application system to faculty mentors will ask them to address the following in a letter of support:

  • applicant's planned research;
  • expected coursework, if any;
  • extent to which the applicant will participate in departmental and campus academic activity (e.g., seminar programs);
  • extent of applicant's anticipated participation at national/international research meetings;
  • facilities and resources available to the fellow; and
  • mentor's involvement in mentoring for other programs designed to increase access and opportunity in higher education.

Q: Do I need a letter of support from the department chair?
A: Yes. The University of Michigan President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program office, in concert with your proposed faculty mentor, will request a letter of support from the department chair. This separate letter from the department chair should describe the department's level of interest in hiring the applicant into a tenure-track position and/or identify a potential fit with another University of Michigan department, if that is appropriate.


Q: What materials are needed to submit an application?
A: You are required to submit the following materials:

  • Thesis abstract - one page;
  • Research Proposal - 700-1,000 words (not including references and citations);
  • Education and Background Statement - 500-700 words describing your personal background and contributions to diversity and equal opportunity through your academic career;
  • Curriculum vitae;
  • Writing sample - sample publication or unpublished paper, please limit to 35 pages (not including references and citations).
You are also required to find a mentor who will be willing to provide you with a letter of support, and who will be willing to request a letter of support from their department chair.

Q: May I apply to both the University of Michigan and the University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship programs?
A: Yes. Applicants may apply to both the University of California and the University of Michigan President's Postdoctoral Fellowship programs with the same application provided they submit separate mentor letters and research proposals.

Q: If I am only applying to the University of Michigan President's Postdoctoral Fellowship program, do I need to provide information about a University of California mentor?
A: No. The on-line application may be used to apply to one or both programs. Those applicants who are only applying to the University of Michigan President's Postdoctoral Fellowship program must identify a faculty mentor at the University of Michigan, but do not need to identify a faculty mentor at the University of California.

Q: Are there sample applications available for review?
A: No. There are many variations on successful applications. Applicants are encouraged to consult with their academic advisors about how to submit a competitive application.

Q: Should I send my graduate transcripts along with my online application?
A: No. The program no longer requires transcripts to be sent with the application. However, the program will request official graduate transcripts if you are selected as a finalist and will not offer you a fellowship until official graduate transcripts are received.

Q: How will I know when my faculty mentor and reference letter(s) have been uploaded to my online application?
A: You will receive e-mail confirmations from the online application system each time a letter is uploaded to your application. You can check on the status of your application, including the arrival of your mentor and reference letters, by using the username and password you created and returning to the application information page.

Q: What is the application deadline?
A: The deadline for submitting the online application is November 1st each year. The deadline for faculty mentor and reference letters is November 8th each year. The deadline for departmental letters of support is December 1st each year.

Q: When will the final decisions be announced?
A: Finalists will be notified and awards announced close to March 31st each year. Please consider restraint when contacting the program office about the selection results. Successful candidates are notified first. Alternates are notified if awardees do not accept or if current fellows do not renew their terms. Additional fellowships are awarded to candidates on the alternate list through June, if resources become available. The program makes every effort to notify all candidates as soon as possible.


Q: Who will review my application?
A: Applications will be reviewed by at least two faculty during the first round of review. If your file moves forward in the review process, it will be read and discussed by faculty from a range of fields in related disciplines.

Q: What criteria are considered by the selection committees when reviewing applications?
A: Review committees evaluate applicants in all fields according to their potential for success in an academic career with special consideration given to potential for contributions to the diversity and equal opportunity as described in our evaluation, selection and eligibility criteria.

Q: Should the research proposal focus on expanding on the doctoral work (i.e. turning the dissertation into a book) or should it reflect a new project or direction in research?
A: In general, selection committees prefer to see a proposal that includes a significant piece of new work. However, in some fields or for some individuals, a proposal to complete or expand upon previous work might be favorably reviewed. In such cases, this should be combined with a plan for making a significant start on a new project.

Q: I'm unable to relocate because of family reasons. Can I still apply?
A: The program requires that you are in residence and establish a presence at your mentor's campus, school or department. If you wish to propose continuing work where you completed your Ph.D., we recommend that you consider working with different faculty members or a different department if possible. If you wish to stay with your current department or faculty advisors, please explain your situation in your education background statement.


Q: Does the support from the Provost's Office include space?
A: No. The Provost's Office provides a postdoctoral salary of $65,000, and $10,000 for research and professional development. The Provost's Office support also includes enrollment in a health plan for fellow and dependent(s), group life insurance, three weeks of sick leave, and one month (non-accrual) of vacation. It is expected that departments and faculty mentors will make appropriate arrangements for space and other necessary resources.

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