SAI Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences between SAI’s fellowships?
Babar Ali Fellowship: The Babar Ali Fellowship is a semester long appointment that supports scholars who focus on areas of humanities and social sciences related to Pakistan.
Raghunathan Family Fellowship (formerly known as South Asian Studies Fellowship): The Raghunathan Family Fellowship is a yearlong appointment that supports recent postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences related to South Asia.
May I apply to multiple fellowships?
If your research fits with the criteria listed above for more than one fellowship, you may apply to multiple fellowships in a given year.
Which countries/regions are included in SAI’s definition of South Asia?
SAI considers candidates whose studies focus on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and/or the Tibetan Plateau for institution funding.
I have not undertaken my doctoral studies, but have completed a professional degree (e.g., MA, MBA, MFA, MPH, MPP, etc.). Am I eligible to apply for a SAI fellowship?
- The Babar Ali Fellowship accepts exceptional candidates who do not hold an advanced degree.
- The Raghunathan Family Fellowship is limited to those who have obtained their PhD.
I received my PhD more than 5 years ago. Which fellowships may I apply to?
The Raghunathan Family Fellowship is meant for recent post-doctoral scholars. You may be eligible for the Babar Ali fellowship if you work is related to Pakistan. 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 consider for the Raghunathan Family Fellowship?
You must receive your degree by June 30, preceding the fellowship start. (i.e. if the fellowship your applying for begins July 1, 2016, you must have received your degree by June 30, 2016).
What are some examples of fields of study in the humanities and social sciences that would be a good fit for the Raghunathan Family Fellowship?
Applicants from any area of the humanities or social sciences are encouraged to apply, provided that their studies are focused on South Asia. Examples of fields of study in the humanities and social sciences include philosophy, religion, language, literature, history, cultural studies, the visual arts, economics, linguistics, anthropology, political science, sociology, and human geography, among others.
I’d like to apply for the Babar Ali Fellowship and I hold a degree that is not from Pakistan. Will I still be considered?
While priority is given to applicants who have been educated in Pakistan primarily, we will consider applicants who have degrees from US institutions as well.
I would like to apply for the Raghunathan Family Fellowship and my PhD is from an institution in the US/UK. Will I still be considered?
While we welcome your application, please note that scholars who have primarily been educated at institutions in South Asia will be prioritized.
I’ve held a fellowship at Harvard, have been a visiting researcher, am a graduate of Harvard, or have been at Harvard in any other capacity for a significant amount of time in the past. Will I be considered for the fellowship?
While we welcome your application, please note that scholars who have not had past opportunities to access Harvard’s resources will be prioritized.
What should the plan of research and writing for the Raghunathan Family and Babar Ali Fellowship applications include?
A strong research proposal is a key component of the application. The proposal should, in a few pages, explain your research plans, including your research approach and methodology. A clear research proposal allows a reviewer to understand what you wish to do, how you will do it, and why it is intellectually valuable.
Research Proposals should elaborate on how the applicant’s work is different from the ongoing work at any of the Harvard Institutions or elsewhere.
Keep in mind that applications will be read by a multidisciplinary review committee who may not necessarily be in your discipline. Care should be taken to define technical words and clearly outline proposed methodology.
For helpful general advice on writing a research proposal, please visit: http://www.isp.msu.edu/funding/fulbright_proposals.htm
What should the writing sample be?
Typically applicants submit a chapter of their dissertation or thesis. You may submit any academic paper, news article, or policy brief or memo that you feel is a good measurement of your ability to write professionally, clearly, and succinctly.
Will emailed or mailed applications be accepted?
As of July 2014, SAI’s application has gone paper free. Please submit all your application materials via the online application.
To whom should the letters of reference be addressed to?
They can be addressed to ‘Members of the Selection Committee.’
Can my recommenders send their letters directly to SAI?
Yes, arrange for your letters to be mailed or emailed directly to the South Asia Institute and to arrive by the deadline date. Letters should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org or Harvard University, South Asia Institute, Attention: SAI Fellowship, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA 02138.
Who should my recommendation letters come from?
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 research 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 academic departments, and will match your research interests and plan accordingly at the time of review.
How should I identify a Harvard faculty member that I would like to engage with should I be awarded the fellowship?
As part of your research plan, you should identify any particular individuals you hope to seek out during your residence. You might utilize worldwide.harvard.edu to identify faculty working in your area. The expectation of faculty who are asked to mentor individual fellows is that the faculty member will meet with the fellow a few times during the fellow’s time on campus, and serve as a faculty chair for a SAI seminar presented by the fellow.
When will I receive notification if my application was accepted?
We strive to notify applicants of decisions within 2 – 3 months of the application deadline.
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About the Fellowship
What is expected of a SAI fellow?
SAI’s fellowships are 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 asked to participate in the intellectual life of SAI by attending SAI’s on campus seminars and events, delivering a seminar as part of SAI’s seminar series, and serving as a discussant at a SAI event if the opportunity arises. 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?
- Additionally, SAI may offer the Babar Ali Fellowship either for the fall term or the spring term.
Will I have access to Harvard’s libraries if I receive a 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.
Will I have office space that the South Asia Institute?
You will be given a shared office, with access to a printer.
What are some expected outcomes of the fellowship?
Each fellow is expected to write a 4 to 5 page paper covering what they accomplished during the fellowship, to be published on SAI’s website. Each fellow is expected to give a seminar, with a faculty member serving as a chair, as well as serve as a discussant at a SAI seminar related to their field, should the opportunity arise.
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 @fas.harvard.edu 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 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 a stipend payment on the final Friday of each month for the duration of their residency. Payments can be received either by paper check or direct deposit (see instructions on setting up direct deposit – Harvard Key required). The fellowship stipend is considered taxable income; taxes are automatically withheld by Harvard University for postdoctoral fellows and foreign nationals. Fellows who are U.S. citizens will not automatically have taxes withheld. It is the fellow’s responsibility to set aside funds to pay taxes on the fellowship income earned during each calendar year. Whether or not you are taxed on your stipend will be dependent on your country of citizenship. Please see more about tax treaties here: http://www.hio.harvard.edu/taxesandsocialsecurity/
Should I apply for Social Security? Do I have to pay taxes?
Please direct tax related questions to the Harvard International Office: http://www.hio.harvard.edu/taxesandsocialsecurity/
Will the South Asia Institute pay for my airfare?
If the scholar is coming from South Asia, a round-trip, economy airfare for the scholar is included as part of the fellowship. This must be used at the beginning and end of the fellowship to bring and return a fellow from their place of residence. Eligible fellows will be reimbursed by SAI.
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 South Asia Institute will cover health insurance for fellows, but not for dependents (children, spouses). 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: http://hushp.harvard.edu/hushp-post-doc-affiliates.
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. South Asia Studies 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. Depending on the circumstance, spring term fellows may be able to live in Harvard Housing. 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. 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 craigslist.com 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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Other 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. Please also be aware that while the fall term appointment starts July 1, the University is very quiet in the summer until a few weeks before classes start at the end of August. We encourage fall term fellows and yearlong fellows to arrive in mid-August just before classes begin. Similarly, the spring term appointment begins January 1, the entire University is on holiday from December 24 – January 1, and winter session/January term (approximately January 2 – January 20) is very quiet with most faculty and students away from campus. Please see the Harvard academic calendar here. We encourage spring fellows to arrive in mid-January just before classes begin.
As a fellow, can I have access to Harvard SAI letterhead?
Yes. Requests for use of SAI letterhead will be reviewed by the SAI Administration. You should make this request in writing to the SAI Senior Program Manager.
As a fellow, can I have SAI business cards?
No, per SAI and University policy, we aren’t able to supply business cards.