Yale Institute of Sacred Music Short-term Collections-based Fellowships


Spanning virtually every age and region of the world, the Yale University collections are among the deepest and widest ranging of any university. They form an integral part of Yale’s mission of teaching and research and are accessible in various ways to students, scholars, and the public alike.

The Yale Institute of Sacred Music supports short-term fellowships in Yale collections for research on the aural, material, visual, ritual, and textual cultures of religions. These fellowships are restricted to work in Yale’s non-circulating collections, particularly at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (note: we are not accepting applications for the Beinecke for our Nov. 1, 2019 application cycle), the Collection of Musical Instruments, the Yale Center for British Art, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Yale University Art Gallery. The fellowships are residential for one to three months. Researchers must free themselves of most other work during the fellowship period and are expected to reside in the vicinity of Yale. Yale faculty, staff, and students are not eligible for these fellowships.

Fellowship Details

Fellowships are available both for doctoral students who are at the dissertation stage, and for any other scholars who hold the Ph.D or equivalent terminal degree. They are granted for a consecutive one- to three-month period at any time during the academic year when the collections are open to the public. For the Beinecke Library only, fellowships are restricted to Sept. 1–May 31 for post-doctoral fellows, and June 1–August 31 for doctoral candidates.

Those accepted as fellows will have access to all of Yale’s libraries and the portion of the collections they have proposed to research, where they will also be given space to conduct their work. Fellows are encouraged also to involve themselves in the life of the university during their stays.

Scholars must free themselves of other teaching or work responsibilities during the course of the fellowship and may not hold other fellowships simultaneously. Split fellowships will not be granted, and only one application per candidate in a given academic year will be allowed. Please note that attendance will be monitored and grants will be adjusted to reflect shortened fellowship periods.

Eligibility and Support

The ISM provides a grant toward round-trip travel (economy class) from the candidate’s home to New Haven and an honorarium for living expenses of $3,000 per month for doctoral candidates (ABD), or $4,000 per month for any scholar holding the doctorate. Fellows are responsible for locating and funding their own housing.

General Inquiries

Send any inquiries regarding the collections themselves to the following addresses:

Application process

Projects are reviewed by both a faculty committee and by the appropriate curator(s) and judged on the significance to their field, the fit with both the Institute’s mission, and the capacity of the collections to support their work.

Applicants for all collections except the Peabody Museum* must submit the following:

  • Personal data: (including education and professional work)
  • Curriculum-vitae: not to exceed 10 pages in length.
  • Project Proposal: A statement of not more than 1200 words describing your proposed scholarly or creative project.  The body of the proposal should describe the project, explain the significance of the topic, and place the work within the context of relevant disciplines.  This project should relate to the interdisciplinary mission of the Institute, and explain how the fellowship at the Institute would enhance this work.  A brief bibliography should be included when appropriate.
  • Project Abstract: A 250-word abstract of the proposal.
  • Research List: A detailed list of specific items you wish to research (2 page maximum).
  • Sample of Scholarly Work: Scholars should submit no more than 30 pages of published writings. Graduate Students must submit an approved Dissertation Prospectus/Proposal. 
  • Letters of Reference: Three letters of reference from qualified leaders in the applicant’s field. Letters should include an evaluation of the applicant’s research proposal and his or her capacity to fulfill it. The online application requires a list of the names, positions, and contact information of recommenders who will be asked to submit their letters online. If a recommender has no access to email, the applicant should notify us at ismfellows@yale.edu.

* At this time, the Peabody Museum grants limited access to their collections. Those interested in applying for fellowships to this Museum should send only a CV and a 250-word project abstract to ismfellows@yale.edu at this time. These materials will be reviewed and if access to the objects in question is possible, a more complete application will be requested for further review.

Application date
1-3 months
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, Arts and Art history, History, Literature, Philosophy, Theology and religion
Social sciences : Information and Communication Sciences