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Home » Programs » Robert Novak Journalism Fellowships » FAQs



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who is eligible to apply?

Working print and online journalists with fewer than 10 years’ professional experience are eligible to apply. This includes freelance and part-time journalists. Each applicant may submit only one fellowship proposal per year. Applicants must be citizens of the United States.

What types of fellowship grants are offered?

The Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program has two primary tiers. The first tier consists of “Fellows,” who are awarded grants of $30,000 each and receive reimbursements for qualifying project expenses up to $5,000. The second tier consists of “Full Fellows,” who are awarded grants of between $50,000 and $60,000, with expense allowances of between $10,000 and $15,000. Fellows in each tier may draw upon their expense accounts at the beginning of their fellowships. Grants are paid out in six installments over the course of the fellowship, following receipt of each written project installment.

In addition, the Novak program may award Alumni Fund Fellowships, which provide smaller grants and do not include reimbursements for expenses. Alumni Fund Fellowships are intended to support a single, substantial essay for publication on an applicant’s topic. Alumni Fund recipients are chosen from among the applicants for Fellowships or Full Fellowships — there is no separate application procedure for the Alumni Fund Fellowships.

Full Fellows are expected to devote their full-time efforts to their Novak project and not to hold full-time employment during their fellowship, although they may engage in whatever part-time, freelance or other work does not detract from their Novak project. All other fellows may hold full-time positions during their fellowships.

What topics are of interest to the Novak Journalism Fellowship judges?

Fellowship proposals should focus on journalism broadly supportive of a free society. Proposed projects should also involve some reporting: interviewing sources, travel, attendance at newsworthy events, etc.

The purpose of the Novak program is to allow journalists to complete serious writing and reporting projects they would otherwise be unable to undertake. Government, culture, economics, religion, science, politics, education, law-enforcement, national security and foreign affairs are among the appropriate fields for Novak Fellowship projects. Please view the complete list of fellowship winners to see projects previously accepted for fellowship grants.

If I’m granted a fellowship, how do I submit my project?

During the course of a one-year fellowship, the journalism project will be delivered in six written installments – one every other month, beginning in the second month of the fellowship. Each installment must be 4,000 to 5,000 words, except for Full Fellows, whose installments should each be at least 8,000 words. Installments should have the potential to be published as articles or as elements of a book.

What is the application process?

All application materials submitted electronically must be received by April 6, 2020. Application materials sent by mail must be postmarked by April 6, 2020. For further instructions and to apply online, click here. References can submit recommendation letters for applicants using this form.

Applicants selected as semi-finalists will be interviewed by the director of the Novak program. Finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges in May or June. Winners will be notified within a week after the in-person interviews and will be announced to the public at the Novak program’s annual awards dinner in the fall.

Application materials must be mailed and postmarked by Feb. 13, 2017. Please do not fax or email your application or other materials. Letters of recommendation must also be postmarked by the deadline date, although we can receive these references via email, if it is more convenient. Please have three individuals familiar with your work and your fellowship proposal submit a letter of recommendation directly to the Novak Fellowship Program.

Recommendation letters can be sent via email to program director Daniel McCarthy at:

When submitting writing samples with your application, please send five sets of three relevant samples of your work, noting date and place of publication. You are asked to submit no more than three samples of work which demonstrate your journalistic abilities and your support of American culture and a free society. In addition to published articles, books and chapters of books may be submitted as samples of your work. Each part of a series will be considered one article.

Your application is judged by a panel of trustees in March. Finalists will be invited to our offices in Washington, D.C. in March for interviews with the judges. Winners are selected that day. Winners will be announced to the public at an awards dinner held in May each year at the National Press Club.

Applications packets should be postmarked no later than Feb. 13, 2017 and addressed to:

Application materials submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than April 6, 2020 and addressed to:

Daniel McCarthy, Director
Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program
The Fund for American Studies
1706 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009

When do the fellowships start?

The fellowships will begin no later than Sept. 1, 2017, although the start date can be sooner with prior discussion.

The fellowships will begin in the Fall 2020, although the start date can be sooner with prior discussion.