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Fellowships

How to Apply

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Application requirements:

All Nieman Fellowship applicants must complete an online application form. Candidates for full academic-year fellowships must submit the following information as part of their package: two essays; a professional profile and study plan; work samples and four letters of recommendation.

Candidates for the Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowship complete a streamlined application that requires only biographical information, a résumé and a project proposal.

Questions about the application process may be sent to fellowship program administrator Nicole Arias.

Application deadlines:

  • Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowships: Oct. 31, 2015
  • International Fellowships: Dec. 1, 2015
  • U.S. Fellowships: Jan. 31, 2016

Note that candidates for the Nieman-Berkman Fellowship in Journalism Innovation should complete either the international fellowship application or the U.S. fellowship application and indicate interest in being considered for a Nieman-Berkman Fellowship in the appropriate section.

Essays

With the exception of Knight Visiting Fellowship applicants, all fellowship candidates must submit two essays: a personal statement and a proposal for study at Harvard. These essays are equally important parts of the application and selection committee members review them carefully. When writing, include examples from your life and work that demonstrate that you have a significant capacity for growth and leadership. We also want to know how a year at Harvard will help make you a better journalist. Please observe word limits.

Personal statement

The personal statement is an essay of 1,000 words or less that describes your journalistic experience, career plans and goals. What experiences in life and in journalism have shaped you? What personal and journalistic values and intellectual interests have influenced your decision to apply? What motivates your commitment to journalistic excellence? What are your aspirations for your life ahead in journalism? Why have you chosen this time for a transformative experience away from work?

Proposal for study at Harvard

The study proposal is an essay of 500 words or less that describes how you plan to spend a year at Harvard. What will you study during the fellowship year? What is the driving question or interest that will shape your year? It is not necessary to specify course titles, but please identify the resources at Harvard and in the Cambridge area that will serve your goals in journalism.

Candidates applying for a Nieman-Berkman Fellowship for Journalism Innovation should explain how their proposed projects or course of research could have impact on the broader world of journalism.

Project proposal for visiting fellowship candidates

The project proposal is an essay of 500 words or less that describes the project you plan to pursue as a visiting fellows at Harvard. How will your work benefit journalism? In what ways will you use your fellowship time to advance the project? Are there any specific Harvard or local resources that will be especially important and useful? As you prepare your proposal, it may be helpful for you to read about the many diverse projects undertaken by our recent visiting fellows.

Summaries

Send two summaries: a professional profile and a study plan.

Professional profile

Provide a short profile (no more than 100 words) that summarizes your professional career including your current position (work title and news organization, if appropriate); publications that you have written for and/or other news organizations where you have worked; journalism awards you have won; beats and issues that you cover; special interests, etc.

Study plan summary:

Provide a brief summary (25-50 words) of your study plan.

View examples of professional profiles and summaries

Work Samples

Work samples should be uploaded to the online application or mailed to the Nieman Foundation if uploading is not possible. You may also provide a summary page that describes your samples.

If your work samples are not in English, please include a summary of their contents in English. Supporting materials must also be in English.

Audio/video files, photographs or samples that exist only as hard copies or surpass the application’s file-size capacity should be sent to the address below, where they will be added to materials you submit with the online application. Please do not send originals.

Nieman Foundation for Journalism
2017 Fellowship Application
One Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138-2009
U.S.A.

All academic-year fellowship applicants (U.S., international and Nieman-Berkman)

  • We are most interested in your recent work. Most of your samples should have been published or broadcast in the year immediately prior to the completion of your application. One older sample may also be submitted.
  • Nieman-Berkman candidates who work for a news organization in a business, technology, or leadership capacity may omit the work samples portion of the application, but should attach other documentation that illustrates the work they do.
  • Knight Visiting Fellowship applicants are not required to submit work samples.

Work Sample Specifications

  • Do not send complete newspapers or magazines, books, scrapbooks, unpublished manuscripts, works-in-progress, irreplaceable material, elaborate presentations (e.g. spiral bindings or report covers) or “creative” displays.
  • Please clearly date all your samples and do not send more than the requested number.
  • If your samples are not in English, please include a summary of their contents in English. Supporting materials must also be in English.

Please note that submitted materials will not be returned.

Print and Online Journalists

  • Writers: Upload five samples of published work, including publication dates, in individual PDFs.
  • Editors: Include a statement describing your job. (This is in addition to your two essays.) You may list URLs or include files of published work along with a description of your role in these samples. For published work, follow the instructions for writers above.
  • Photographers: Submit a portfolio with at least eight samples of your work. Image files up to 10MB each may be uploaded to the online application. If your samples cannot be uploaded or submitted via a URL, you may mail a CD, DVD, flash drive or non-returnable printed photos to the Nieman Foundation.

Broadcast Journalists

Work samples collectively should run no longer than 30 minutes. Include a written synopsis of each sample with a brief description of your involvement in each piece. Video files up to 500MB each and audio files up to 60MB each may be uploaded to the application, or instead provide a URL to your work online.

If you work on documentary films that are longer than 30 minutes and feel an edited version isn’t representative of your work, you may submit a sample of no more than 60 minutes as we understand the long lead time that goes into those projects.

To submit a sample that cannot be uploaded to your online application or provided via a URL, you may mail a DVD, CD or flash drive to the Nieman Foundation.
If you have questions about what types of work samples are acceptable, contact fellowship program administrator Nicole Arias.

Letters of Recommendation

Four confidential letters of recommendation are required. These letters should indicate how your abilities and experience make you stand out as a fellowship candidate and should describe your qualifications, your potential for professional growth and leadership, and the impact a fellowship might have on your career in journalism.

Once an applicant completes the references section of the online application for each recommender, those individuals will receive an email with instructions to submit a letter of recommendation. Recommenders will be given the option to upload the letter as a PDF, type/paste the letter online, or send it via email or postal mail to the Nieman Foundation.   

Recommendations should be written by:

  • Two individuals familiar with your work who can comment on your journalistic abilities and potential for growth and leadership.
  • Your immediate supervisor with an appraisal of your qualifications.
  • Your organization’s publisher, editor, manager or director supporting your application and granting you a nine-month leave of absence if you receive a fellowship. If your circumstances prevent you from obtaining a leave letter (see explanation below) you may submit a third letter from an individual familiar with your work.

Freelance journalists should request letters from four individuals familiar with their work.

Letters of recommendation are not required for Knight Visiting Fellowship applicants, but contact information for three references must be provided.

Leave of Absence Letter

The Nieman Foundation recognizes that news organizations are occasionally reluctant to grant leaves of absence to valuable staff members for fellowships when staffing levels are tight. However, it is our hope that news executives recognize that the knowledge, broader perspective, personal development and leadership skills fellows bring back at the end of the Nieman year will benefit the news organization.

We encourage news managers to work with fellowship applicants to help them shape their aspirations for a year at Harvard. We also encourage potential Nieman applicants to be upfront with their news organization’s leadership about their intentions, whether or not a supporting letter is forthcoming. In the absence of such a letter of support however, a candidate is still eligible to apply for a Nieman Fellowship.

Letters of recommendation and leave of absence letters not submitted using the online application should be mailed directly to the Nieman Foundation at the address below and postmarked by the following dates:

  • International applicants: Dec. 1, 2015
  • U.S. applicants: Jan. 31, 2016

Nieman Foundation for Journalism
2017 Fellowship Application
One Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138-2009
U.S.A.

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