Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

 The doctoral dissertation fellowship supports TCU faculty in the final stage of their doctoral program with a one-year award to complete their dissertation and requirements for graduation. The College Fund established these fellowships to increase and retain the number of faculty with doctoral degrees at 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).


The College Fund offers two doctoral dissertation fellowships:

    1. The College Fund Doctoral Fellowship supports faculty pursuing a doctorate in any field.
    2. The Mellon Career Enhancement Fellowship supports faculty pursuing a doctorate in a field related to the humanities and humanistic social sciences, such as anthropology, history, cultural/ethnic studies, sociology, and linguistics.

Every applicant will be considered for the College Fund Doctoral Fellowship, which provides up to $20,000 in funding over one year.

Applicants whose degrees fall under the humanities will also be considered for the Mellon Career Enhancement Fellowship. This fellowship provides up to $40,000 in funding over one year; however, this fellowship is on hold and we cannot guarantee it will be available at the time of your application.

Application deadline: November 4, 2022 (see below for more information)



Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

    • Be a current faculty member teaching at an accredited TCU that is a full member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. For fellowships, the definition of faculty member includes full- and part-time permanent faculty, as well as adjunct instructors (including TCU staff and administrators) who teach at least one course regularly.
    • Be actively enrolled in an accredited doctoral degree program.
    • Have completed doctoral coursework, been advanced to doctoral candidacy, and will be considered “All But Dissertation” (ABD) by the start of the one-year fellowship period.
    • Have a detailed plan to complete all requirements for graduation within one year of being awarded the fellowship.
    • Have approval from their TCU administrators to take sufficient leave time to complete their doctoral degree within one year of being awarded the fellowship. A full sabbatical is not required; however, applicants must negotiate flex time or release from their usual teaching and administrative duties prior to beginning the fellowship program.


Requirements for Accepted Awards

Individuals who are awarded funds will be required to do the following:

    • Agree to remain as faculty at a TCU for at least three years after completion of the doctoral degree.
    • Complete their dissertation and be conferred their degree within one year of starting the fellowship.
    • Authorize regular progress reports and communication between their advisor (or other contact person in their doctoral program) and the College Fund’s Faculty Development Program Officer.
    • Designate a senior faculty member, such as a dissertation chair or committee member, to provide academic support throughout the fellowship year.
    • Agree to allow the College Fund access to their enrollment and degree attainment information through the National Student Clearinghouse Database.
    • Attend a two-day fellowship orientation program and writing retreat, if offered.
    • Maintain regular contact with the College Fund’s Faculty Development Program Officer for the one year during and three years after completion of the doctoral degree.


Application Checklist

Applicants must submit the following documents and information to receive full consideration during the committee review process. Please read the instructions for each document in the application portal before applying.

    • Application form, which includes applicant information, signed commitment to teach at a TCU for three years after graduation, and signed form allowing the College Fund access to your enrollment and degree attainment data.
    • Personal statement (1,000-2,000 words).
    • CV (including description of faculty responsibilities).
    • Certification of advancement to doctoral candidacy from graduate institution.
    • Graduate transcripts.
    • First letter of recommendation from the TCU president allowing the necessary release or flex time to complete your degree within one year.
    • Second letter of recommendation from TCU academic dean or departmental chair discussing how your doctoral work and degree will impact the institution.
    • Third letter from your dissertation advisor or mentor that speaks to the importance of your research and ability to complete your doctorate within one year of the start of the fellowship.
    • An optional fourth letter from a senior academic mentor explaining their role in your doctoral studies and the value of your research and contributions to tribal communities.
    • Completed dissertation proposal and certification of approval of proposal.
    • Detailed timeline outlining your plan to complete all requirements for graduation within one year of being awarded the fellowship.
    • Document of approval, if required, by any and all institutional review boards (i.e., graduate institution, tribal nation, and/or TCU).


Selection Process

Fellowship applications are evaluated and ranked by a committee of scholars from a variety of academic disciplines. The reviewers evaluate applications using the following criteria:

    • Academic record and competence demonstrated in the application
    • Capability of applicant to complete degree within the one-year time frame
    • Potential of applicant’s doctoral achievement and research to strengthen teaching, curriculum, program development, research, and leadership at the TCU
    • Demonstrated commitment of applicant to American Indian higher education and scholarship at tribal colleges
    • Demonstrated respectful engagement with communities served by the TCU


Application Deadline

We are now accepting applications for fellowships that will begin in January 2023 (spring semester). The deadline to apply is 5:00 pm PT on Friday, November 4. All application materials and recommendation letters must be uploaded and submitted by the application deadline. Late application materials and letters cannot be accepted.

Click on the link below to be taken to our application portal. After creating an account (or logging in to your existing account), you will find further information about each required document and instructions for the people writing your recommendation letters. We look forward to receiving your application!

If you have any questions or technical difficulties, contact Heidi Normandin, Faculty Development Program Officer, at [email protected].