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How to Apply

Sign up to receive notification once we begin taking applications for the 2016-2017 Nieman Fellowships.

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.

Visiting Fellowship candidates complete a streamlined application that requires only biographical information, a resume and a project proposal.

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

Application deadlines:

  • International Fellowships: Dec. 1, 2014
  • Nieman-Berkman Fellowships in Journalism Innovation: Dec. 1, 2014
  • U.S. Fellowships: Jan. 31, 2015
  • The deadline for 2015 Visiting Fellowship applications has passed. Candidates for the 2016 calendar year may apply starting in the summer of 2015.


With the exception of Visiting Fellowship applicants, all fellowship candidates must submit two essays: a personal statement and a proposal for study at Harvard. These essays are an important part of the application, and selection committee members review them carefully. 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:

A summary 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:

A summary of 500 words or less that describes how you plan to spend a year at Harvard. What will you study during the fellowship 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.


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/news organization, if appropriate); publications that you have written for and/or other news organizations that you have worked for; 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 with the online application or mailed to the Nieman Foundation if uploading is not possible. You may also upload 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.

DVDs, audio/video files, photographs or samples that exist only as hard copies 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
2016 Fellowship Application
One Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138-2009

International, U.S. and Nieman-Berkman Fellowship Applicants

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 are not working journalists may omit the work samples portion of the application, but should attach other documentation that illustrates the work they do.

Visiting Fellowship applicants are not required to submit work samples.

Work Sample Specifications

  • Any printed samples, summaries and synopses submitted must be formatted to fit 8 ½” x 11″ (21.5 x 28 cm) sheets of paper.
  • Your name should be included on every item you submit.
  • 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.

Submitted materials will not be returned.

Print and Online Journalists

  • Writers: Upload five samples of published work, including publication dates, in either a single or multiple PDFs or Word documents.
  • Editors: Upload a statement describing your job. (This is in addition to your two essays.) You may include copies 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. If your samples cannot be uploaded with your online application or submitted via a URL, you may mail a CD, DVD, flash drive or non-returnable printed photos to the Nieman Foundation.

Broadcast Journalists

You may submit your work samples by either mailing a DVD, CD or flash drive to the Nieman Foundation or by uploading a PDF or Word document that include links to your work online. The 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.

If you work on programs 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 making documentary films.

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.

We strongly recommend that letters of recommendation be submitted using the recommendation section of the online application.  If for some reason it is not possible for your references to access this feature, they may mail letters 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.

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, 2014.
  • Nieman-Berkman applicants (U.S. and international): Dec. 1, 2014
  • U.S. applicants: Jan. 31, 2015

Nieman Foundation for Journalism
2016 Fellowship Application
One Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138-2009


To apply online, create an account using your preferred email address and then choose the type of fellowship you would like to receive. You may save your information and return as many times as you like prior to the application deadline.

Applicants who wish to apply for more than one type of fellowship (for example, a U.S. and a Nieman-Berkman Fellowship) should complete and submit one application at a time. Please wait until you receive a confirmation email message before starting the second application.

To complete the second application:

  1. In the top right corner of the online form, click the “Update My Answers” link. Select the type of fellowship you are applying for. The system will retain all of your biographical information (pages 1-5).
  2. Upload new/revised essays, work samples and recommendations connected to your second fellowship application.