How to Apply for a Bell Postdoctoral Fellowship

Application Procedure

Candidates interested in the 2020-2022 cohort can apply through the online web portal linked below, which will be live starting on September 18, 2019. Completed applications must be received by 3:00 P.M. EST on Monday, December 2, 2019. At that time, the portal will go offline and you will not be able to access your record.

Click to Access Bell Fellowship Application Portal

Before applying, please review all the related Bell Fellowship pages. This program is open to both U.S. and international scholars.

*Those interested in applying to both the Sloan and Bell Fellowship programs must submit two separate applications; however, the same references and letters of recommendation may be used for both applications.

The application contains the following components:

  1. Eligibility Questionnaire
  2. Applicant Information
  3. Contact Information for Three References — See below for recommendation letter instructions.
  4. Curriculum Vitae (PDF Upload)
  5. Research Proposal (PDF Upload) No more than 2,000 words addressing the following questions:
    • Describe your dissertation or other current research.
    • What questions are you interested in addressing as a Bell Fellow? How will this build on your work to date, fill gaps in your current knowledge, and change your career trajectory?
    • Describe your current methodological and analytical skills, and what advanced training you would hope to achieve in this area.
    • Describe which Pop Center faculty member(s) you would be interested in collaborating with. You may list a non-member but s/he must have a full time Harvard appointment. You do NOT have to contact potential mentors/collaborators prior to applying for the fellowship.
  6. Writing Sample (PDF Upload) that demonstrates your writing and analytical skills, as well as your ability to generate interesting and original ideas. This can be a published article or a draft publication. The writing sample is limited to 20 pages; pages beyond the first 20 will not be reviewed.

Instructions for the Letters of Recommendation

Recommendation letters are a key component of the application and are weighed heavily. Please follow the submission instructions below:

  • Each of the three letters of recommendation must be emailed directly from the referee to with the subject line “Ref Letter_[Bell applicant name]_[referee’s last name]”
  • Letters should be on institutional letterhead if possible.
  • The deadline to submit recommendation letters is the same as the application deadline – Monday, December 2, 2019.
  • All letters should contain the following information:
    • How long referee has known applicant
    • Relationship to the applicant (e.g. advisor)
    • Quantitative ranking of applicant to others (e.g. top 10%)
  • In addition, the letter should comment on the applicant’s:
    • Writing skills
    • Analytical skills
    • Ability to form new and creative ideas and research questions
    • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment

Note that all incoming scholars must have completed their doctoral requirements, and provide proof to HCPDS by August 24, 2020. The following forms of proof will be accepted:

  1. Copy of Diploma (Preferred); or
  2. Letter from Registrar’s Office noting that all doctoral requirements have been completed; or
  3. Letter from chair of thesis committee noting that all doctoral requirements have been completed.

Candidate(s) will be chosen by March 2, 2020.

Questions? Please contact us at