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Frequently Asked Questions

We encourage all applicants and selected fellows to thoroughly read the following.

About the B4 Fellowship Application

I received my PhD more than 5 years ago. May I apply to the B4 Fellowship?
The B4 Fellowship is meant for recent post-doctoral scholars. SAI considers recent post-doctoral scholars as individuals who have received their PhD within 5 years. You may calculate this by subtracting 5 years from the fellowship appointment start date (i.e. Scholars applying for a fellowship that begins July 1, 2016, must have obtained their PhD by July 1, 2011; scholars applying for a fellowship that begins January 1, 2017, must have obtained their PhD by January 1, 2012).

By when do I need to receive my PhD to be considered for the B4 Fellowship?
You must receive your degree by June 30, preceding the fellowship start. (i.e. if the fellowship you’re applying for begins July 1, 2016, you must have received your degree by June 30, 2016).

Will mailed applications be accepted?
No. As of July 2014, SAI’s B4 program application has gone paper free. Please submit all your application materials via the online application.

To whom should the letters of reference be addressed?
They can be addressed to Members of the Selection Committee.

Can my recommenders send their letters directly to SAI?
Yes, this is preferred. Arrange for your letters to be mailed or emailed directly to the South Asia Institute and to arrive by the deadline. Letters should be sent to: (with “B4 Fellowship Recommendation for [applicant’s name]” in the subject line) or Harvard University, South Asia Institute, Attention: B4 Fellowship, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA 02138.

Whom should I ask to provide my recommendation letters?
At least one of the letters should come from an academic source who is familiar with your scholarly work. Professional references are also acceptable.

What should the letters include?
The letters should highlight your past academic accomplishments to show that you are a good fit for the fellowship, and should speak to how the fellowship will help you pursue your future professional work.

Should I contact Harvard faculty directly to discuss my research plan and/or teaching interests?
No. The grant review committee will review your application in consideration of the needs of Harvard’s labs, and will match your research interests and plan accordingly at the time of review.

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About the B4 Fellowship

What is expected of a B4 Fellow?
The B4 Fellowship is an opportunity for scholars to utilize Harvard’s resources to contribute to self-driven independent research. Fellows will have the opportunity to engage with faculty from across Harvard’s schools by attending office hours, setting up appointments, attending seminars and workshops, and auditing courses. Fellows are also encouraged to engage with other departments and centers throughout Harvard, as well as local peer institutions such as Tufts, Boston University, and MIT.

What is the time frame for each fellowship? Am I expected to be on campus the entire time?

Will I have access to Harvard’s libraries if I receive a B4 Fellowship?
Yes, you will have both access and borrowing privileges to all of Harvard’s libraries.

Are any additional funds available for research-related travel, participation in academic conferences, etc.?
No. Unfortunately, SAI cannot offer any additional funds for travel or conferences. With reasonable exceptions for brief trips, our fellows are expected to remain in residence during the term of their appointment while classes are in session. 

Are there opportunities for fellows to take classes at Harvard? Is tuition for such classes included in the fellowship?
Fellows are not formally enrolled as students and thus cannot register for classes through the Registrar’s Office. However, fellows may (and frequently do) audit classes with permission from the instructor. You may explore the course catalog here. Fellows are responsible for contacting faculty to request permission to audit a course.

What are some expected outcomes of the B4 Fellowship?
A Colloquium will be organized in India at the conclusion of the Fellowship where the Fellows will engage with Harvard faculty, Indian academics, and industry leaders and highlight what they have learned during their time in Boston/Cambridge.

Will I have a Harvard ID and Harvard email address?
Yes, with your appointment as a SAI fellow, you will have a Harvard ID which gives you access to Harvard’s libraries, SAI offices after hours, and online sites. You will also have a email address. Information about obtaining Harvard ID and email address is in the Fellows Guide.

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Living in Cambridge

How will I obtain a visa if I receive the B4 Fellowship?
You will be sponsored by the Harvard International Office. Before Harvard University can issue a visa sponsorship document, the minimum in financial resources that an individual must have available is $30,000 per year ($2,500 per month). An additional $5,000 per year ($417 per month) must be declared for each accompanying family member.

How are Fellows paid, and how is this income taxed?
Fellows receive stipend payments from SAI in India. The income will be taxed accordingly to the tax code of India.

Will the South Asia Institute pay for my airfare?
A round-trip, economy airfare, to and from India and Cambridge, for the B4 Fellow is included as part of the B4 Fellowship. This must be used at the beginning and end of the fellowship to bring and return a fellow from their place of residence. The stipend fellows receive will cover this transportation.

Should I obtain health insurance?
Scholars in J status are required by the U.S. Department of State to have health insurance that meets certain standards. The stipend for Fellows covers the cost of health insurance, but not for dependents (children, spouses). Health insurance must be purchased while in India before arrival to the United States. It is also a Massachusetts law that all residents have health insurance. You may find more information about the Harvard University Student Health Plan for post-doctoral affiliates/fellows here:

Where will I live during my residency in Cambridge?
It is the fellow’s responsibility to find housing in the area. The South Asia Institute will provide you with a list of resources to find housing in the Fellow’s Guide. B4 Fellows are eligible to live in Harvard University Housing. You will be able to use your appointment letter to apply for and browse Harvard Housing listings. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the intricacies of living in Harvard Housing by communicating with the Harvard Housing Office, reviewing the application process, and reading the Frequently Asked Questions.

Please familiarize yourself with the average rents in Cambridge, MA – a studio apartment might be around $1,700, a 1 bedroom around $1,800-$2,000. However a room in a shared apartment will range from $700 – $1200. You should also be prepared to pay first and last months’ rent, as well as a security deposit and/or an agent fee upon signing the lease. Please be careful when utilizing online sites such as to arrange housing from abroad. You should never, under any circumstances, wire money at the request of any prospective landlord via Western Union, Money Gram or any other wire service. Please see information from the Cambridge Police Department on avoiding rental scams.

May I bring my family with me to Cambridge?
You may – but please note that it is Massachusetts law that everyone has health insurance. SAI’s fellowship only covers health insurance for the scholar, and won’t be able to provide insurance for dependents. You may pay for this expense out of your pocket or stipend. Please note the question about visa sponsorship and minimum financial resources needed. Please see information from the Harvard International Office regarding family visas.

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Additional B4 Fellowship Information

Can I arrive in Cambridge before my fellowship starts?
It depends – If you are coming to the US on a visa your appointment letter will be used to determine your visa start date. Also, your access to Harvard email, library, and systems won’t be available until after your appointment date.

As a fellow, can I have SAI business cards?
No, per SAI and University policy, we aren’t able to supply business cards.

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