NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the deadline?
The deadline is Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 5pm Eastern Time. The application is now open and you may access the application portal here.

The three letters of recommendation and all supporting material have the same deadline. Please make sure to account for time zone differences, as late submissions will not be accepted.

When is the notification of awards?
All applicants will be notified of their status by May 2024.

Is there an example of a successful application from previous years?
The National Academy of Education (NAEd) is unable to make previous applications publicly available. However, applicants are highly encouraged to read “The Art of Writing Proposals“, an article published by the Social Science Research Council about crafting a competitive research proposal.

The NAEd also stresses that fellowship applications are reviewed by a multidisciplinary selection committee. Applications should be written for a generalist audience. The NAEd strongly encourages applicants to have colleagues from other departments and fields read their applications to provide general feedback and ensure that the application is easily understood by readers from different disciplinary backgrounds.

Are applicants allowed to apply if a previous application was turned down?
Yes. Candidates may reapply for the postdoctoral fellowship award if they still meet the qualifications. Re-applicants must start a new application and will need to include information about past proposals.

Can applicants get feedback on a turned down application?
All applicants will receive feedback on their applications after the review process concludes.

Can a candidate apply if they did not graduate from a department or school of education?
Yes. Applicants can be in any field, as long as their research topic centrally relates to education and shows promise of contributing to the understanding of the history, theory, or practice of education.

What if an applicant is unsure if/how their research topic relates to education?
The NAEd and Spencer Foundation have a long history of supporting projects related to education. Applicants should look at the listing of grants awarded during past years to assess the range of topics supported. Lists of previous grantees are available on the NAEd website. Because the topics are a reflection of what grantees chose to study, past grants are not an indication of the only substantive topics of interest. Applicants must state clearly and explicitly the connection between the proposed research and the improvement of education.

How broadly does the NAEd/Spencer Foundation define education?
The NAEd and Spencer’s definition of education is quite broad and encompasses education in its many forms: formal and non-formal, U.S. and non-U.S., early childhood through adult, school settings and non-school settings, and so forth.

Are non-U.S. citizens eligible to apply?
Non-U.S. and non-residential citizens are eligible to apply for the postdoctoral fellowship.

Can applicants accept other awards?
Fellows may not receive other concurrent funding for their project during the tenure of their fellowship. Also, fellows may not hold a separate grant from the Spencer Foundation during their fellowship period.

Does the applicant need to be affiliated with an institution?
No, the applicant does not need to be affiliated with an institution.

Is the award made to the institution or to the individual?
The fellowship award can either be self-administered or institutionally administered; if awarded, the funding decision will be left up to the fellow.

What does the award cover and how should it be used?
Fellows are expected to take leave from their full-time teaching and administrative duties and to work on their research as described in the application proposal during the fellowship period. The fellowship award is to be used as salary replacement (not supplement) and for other expenses related to the research during the fellowship period. During the fellowship period, the Academy expects fellows will not accept any other financial award to support the research project described in the application.

Additionally, the terms of the Spencer Foundation support to the NAEd for this fellowship provide for no institutional support, i.e., overhead or indirect costs including the following: office rent, grants and contracts office expenses, institutional and departmental administrative expenses, institutional and departmental information technology expenses, and accounting and legal services.

Any interest that accrues on these grant funds must be used exclusively for the purposes described in the application. Funds that have not been spent or obligated by the end of the fellowship period must be returned to the Academy.

Does an applicant need to outline how the funding will be used in the application?
The applicant does not need to outline how they plan on using the award. This step is done after the NAEd receives the fellow’s official acceptance.

In what style or format should documents be submitted?
Because the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship is a multidisciplinary program, the NAEd accepts all major formatting and writing styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). The decision is up to the applicant, but it is important to remain consistent in all submissions. Additionally, the project description and example of past research must be submitted in 11 point, double-spaced Times New Roman font.

How many pages should the project description be?
The project description should be ten double-spaced pages, with two additional pages for references, coming to a total of 12. Appendices (charts, graphs, tables, questionnaires, etc.) may be included as technical and supplemental and do not count towards the limit; however, please be judicious in the quantity included, as reviewers are not required to review material in the appendices.

Example of your Past Research: Can applicants submit a published piece as it was formatted?
Applicants are welcome to submit a piece they have published, but it must be formatted to meet the application specifications. DO NOTE: Most journal publications are single spaced and double columned; this format will not be accepted. If an applicant wishes to submit a published piece, it must be reformatted to adhere with the NAEd application guidelines. If the piece is longer than 20 pages, the applicant can submit a portion of the full document and provide a link to the full piece. If providing an excerpt, please be judicious in what is included in the submission, as reviewers are only required to review material in the document.

Applicants must have received their degree between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2022. What exactly does this mean?
The applicant must have their degree in hand. This means the degree must have been conferred within the deadline. If an applicant walked in December 2022 but did not receive the degree until 2023, they are not eligible this year.

Can I submit the same idea/project to both the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral fellowship and another Spencer grant program?
If you submit applications to both the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Spencer grant program with the same project idea, please email the Spencer administrative contact for the grant program to which you are applying and let them know that you are also applying to the NAEd/Spencer fellowship program.

Due to the timing of the decision timelines and processes, if you become a semifinalist:

  • For a NAEd/Spencer fellowship, you must choose to withdraw your proposal from either the fellowship or the Spencer grant competition.
  • For a Spencer grant, you must choose to withdraw your application from either the fellowship or the Spencer grant competition.
  • For both the NAEd/Spencer fellowship and a Spencer grant competition, you must choose to withdraw your application from either the fellowship or the Spencer grant competition.

Who can help with technical difficulties with the online application?
There are two quick solutions that might help with website difficulties: first, try using a different browser, such as Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer; second, try logging on to a computer outside of the computer’s current network. Sometimes, firewalls on a school network can prevent an applicant from fully utilizing the application website. If the problem persists, please contact the NAEd with a description of the problem or error.

Can a candidate make changes to an application after the deadline or ask a NAEd staff member to make a change?
Unless otherwise announced, the application deadline listed is final. No edits, alterations, and/or additions will be made to any applications after this deadline. Additionally, an applicant should not contact NAEd staff with queries concerning edits to their application once the deadline has passed.

An unforeseen event has happened. Can the NAEd extend the application deadline?
Unless otherwise announced, the application deadline listed is final. This deadline is also final for referees. The NAEd understands there are events in one’s life which may hinder the application process- a death in the family or of one of the reference writers, physical or mental illness, technical difficulties, etc. For these unforeseen and sometimes unfortunate events, please work ahead of time to complete the application. No extensions will be given.

However, on the occasion the final deadline must be extended for all applicants, such as a natural disaster affecting a large regional area, a mass e-mail will be sent to all applicants and their referees, informing them of these changes. Please ensure all e-mail addresses are accurately submitted.

Is the NAEd a university or college?
The Academy is not a university or college and does not hold or hire postdoctoral positions.

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