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William R. Tyler Fellowships

Two-year Fellowships for graduate students in art history, archaeology, history, and literature of the Pre-Columbian/early Colonial or Mediterranean/Byzantine worlds; or in Garden and Landscape history.

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Fellowship Description and Terms

Dumbarton Oaks invites Harvard graduate students working on dissertations in the following fields to apply for a two-year William R. Tyler Fellowship:

  • Pre-Columbian/early Colonial archaeology, history, art history, and/or literature
  • Mediterranean/Byzantine archaeology, history, art history, and/or literature
  • Garden and Landscape history, designed landscapes, and urban landscape studies

Dumbarton Oaks has long-established programs in Pre-Columbian, Byzantine, and Garden and Landscape Studies. The Tyler Fellowship is intended to attract students with genuine intellectual interests in any of those areas, but who do not necessarily self-identify as Pre-Columbianists, Byzantinists, or Garden and Landscape historians. The program is therefore open to candidates working on adjacent or related regions or time-periods, and especially those interested in forging connections to our traditional fields of study. For example, dissertation-writers who work on early Colonial topics that build on issues connected with Pre-Columbian civilizations might be appropriate applicants. Similarly, candidates focusing on American Indian or other native American cultures with links to Pre-Columbian studies, whether directly or analogically, may be considered. In Byzantine studies, the program embraces an expanded view of the field, with committed openness to a broad Mediterranean perspective. The transition from late antiquity to Byzantium; the medieval West, Slavic regions, non-Greek Christian East, and Islam, so long as they are examined in an eastern Mediterranean context; and the Ottoman transition are all areas that Tyler Fellows are welcome to explore. Proficiency in two languages other than English is required for all candidates in Mediterranean/Byzantine studies.

The Tyler Fellowship provides funding over two years for advanced graduate students. To be eligible, applicants must have completed all departmental requirements, (including course work, residence, and general and preliminary examinations), before the application deadline. Shortlisted candidates will be expected to be available for interviews in Cambridge, MA, in February.

One major aim of the Tyler Fellowship is to enable dissertation research and completion, and the Fellowship may include travel and residence overseas for this purpose. A special allowance is available to encourage research travel. Travel plans must be submitted soon after a Fellowship is awarded and require approval by the dissertation supervisor and the Director of Dumbarton Oaks.

The other aim of the Tyler Fellowship is to enhance research and professional skills through contribution to a Dumbarton Oaks institutional project. This contribution will most likely occur in the first year of the Tyler Fellowship. Tyler Fellows who request to make this contribution in the second year of the Fellowship should plan accordingly, since fulfilling such a commitment at the same time as completing a dissertation (and perhaps conducting a job search as well) will be challenging. The work requirement itself may, with supervisor approval, take the form of either a 50% time commitment (17.5 hours/week) over the entire academic year (September to May), or a 100% time commitment (35 hours/week) over one term (September-January or January-May). Fellows are expected to be in full-time residence during the entire term or academic year of their contribution to an institutional project.

Dumbarton Oaks Tyler Fellows receive a stipend of $29,500 during each year of the Fellowship. A travel allowance of up to $5,000 is available for field work or research-related travel, upon approval by the dissertation advisor and the Director of Dumbarton Oaks. The travel allowance may be spread over the two years of the fellowship. Fellows are responsible for their own travel and housing arrangements for both years. Dumbarton Oaks Tyler Fellows will become members of the academic community at Dumbarton Oaks with access to the noted resources of the Research Library and Collection.

Applications will be judged on the originality and solidity of their contribution to their fields. Although the focus will not be limited to the strictest definition of Byzantine studies, Pre-Columbian studies, and Garden and Landscape studies, close attention will be paid to the ways in which the applications complement the traditional programs of study at Dumbarton Oaks. A final consideration will be the ability of shortlisted candidates to contribute to an institutional project.

Dumbarton Oaks Tyler Fellowship recipients are not eligible for Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellowships (or vice versa). The Tyler Fellowship cannot be held in conjunction with another dissertation fellowship. Applicants may not apply for both a junior and Tyler fellowship in the same application cycle, nor can they apply for one after having held the other.

Upon acceptance of the Fellowship, successful applicants will discuss their two-year plan (including specific periods for residence at Dumbarton Oaks and travel abroad, and the nature of their contribution to an institutional project) with the Manager of Academic Programs, prospective supervisor, and the Director of Studies in the field most appropriate to their application. They will then submit the plan for formal approval by the Director of Dumbarton Oaks. Research travel should not be scheduled during the period of residence and contribution to an institutional project at Dumbarton Oaks.

Prospective Tyler Fellows will be required to attend a one-day orientation at Dumbarton Oaks, in the late spring preceding the beginning of their two-year Fellowship. During their residence at Dumbarton Oaks, Tyler Fellows will be asked to give informal talks on their work in progress. Tyler Fellows will also be expected to provide written reports and communication about their dissertation research and Dumbarton Oaks project on a regular basis throughout the two-year term.

To Apply

Qualified Harvard graduate students may apply through the Dumbarton Oaks online application program.

In the Embark application, please mark the box for “Tyler Fellowship.” An in-depth description of projected research travel or field work should be uploaded in the section for optional documents at the end of the application. Candidates should request three letters of recommendation, two of which should be from professors in their department at Harvard University, and one of which should be from their dissertation supervisor. Award notifications are made mid- to late February.

Frequently Asked Questions

My work does not fall under any of the specified fields. Can I still apply?

We will consider dissertation projects in Pre-Columbian/early Colonial, Mediterranean/Byzantine, and Garden and Landscape Studies, or in related fields as listed in the description. Projects that are interdisciplinary or combine elements of two fields are eligible for consideration. In that case, candidates should choose the online application (Embark) field that is closest to their research, and explain the project’s connection to other relevant fields.

May I submit applications for both a junior fellowship and a Tyler fellowship?

Applicants may not apply for both a Junior and Tyler Fellowship in the same application cycle, nor can they apply for one after having held the other.

What is the purpose of the orientation?

Upon acceptance of the award, prospective Tyler Fellows may be required to attend a two-day orientation at Dumbarton Oaks, in the late spring preceding the beginning of their two-year fellowship. Travel reimbursement (lowest round-trip economy airfare, train fare, or mileage, up to a maximum of $400) and housing to attend the orientation will be provided by Dumbarton Oaks. Although an effort will be made to accommodate prospective Fellows traveling to the orientation, the dates will be set by the Fellowship Coordinator with the Dumbarton Oaks institutional calendar in mind, and attendance by all prospective Tyler Fellows as a group is mandatory. Non-attendance of the scheduled orientation will result in forfeiture of the Fellowship.

The purpose of the orientation is to familiarize prospective Fellows with the mission and resources of Dumbarton Oaks, and to initiate contact with the supervisors of their institutional project. Prospective Fellows are urged to consult the Dumbarton Oaks website to gain a sense of the institution and its community. Reports from Tyler Fellows will be available on the site.

When will I be required to be in residence at Dumbarton Oaks?

Tyler Fellows are required to be in full residence at Dumbarton Oaks during the entire term or academic year of their contribution to an institutional project, which can take the form of a 50% (17.5 hours/week) contribution during the entire year, or a 100% (35 hours/week) contribution during one term (fall or spring) of the academic year. Under exceptional circumstances, (e.g., when field work cannot be scheduled in the second year), Fellows can request approval to fulfill the work and residency requirement in their second year. The request must be submitted upon acceptance of the Tyler Fellowship, and is dependent on approval by the Director of Dumbarton Oaks. Election to fulfill the requirement in the second year (and, by implication, proximity to the deadline for dissertation completion) will not entail a reduction of the required contribution.

How much of the Fellowship can I spend abroad or on research-related travel?

In general, Fellows will be expected to fulfill the work/residence requirement in their first year.

During the academic year of fulfillment of the work requirement, Fellows must be in residence at Dumbarton Oaks. A maximum of one week’s absence per term and two weeks’ absence over the academic year (September to May) is permitted during the year of residency/work at Dumbarton Oaks, by application to the Fellowship Coordinator, and following consultation with the project supervisor.

Fellows are free to spend the year of their Fellowship not devoted to fulfillment of the work/residency requirement, as well as the summers, undertaking research and travel away from Dumbarton Oaks, although they are expected to contribute to the community whether by their physical presence or through regular reports and blog posts.

What sort of travel qualifies toward the travel allowance?

The travel allowance is offered to encourage research or field work related to the dissertation. Travel plans must be submitted at the time of application and require approval by the dissertation advisor; final approval of the two-year work/travel plan for the purposes of disbursing the travel allowance is required by the Director of Dumbarton Oaks. Conference travel is not eligible, unless applicants can demonstrate that it is directly related to the dissertation. Reimbursable items (not to exceed $5,000 total over the course of the fellowship) include: economy airfare; airfare baggage fees; ground transportation; meals: reasonable daily alimentation (excludes alcohol); lodging; relocation expenses to Washington, DC (Fellow’s airfare or gas mileage only).

Can I change my travel/work plan after it has been approved?

Changes to the two-year travel/work plan will generally not be possible after it has been approved. Under exceptional circumstances, Fellows may apply to the Director of Dumbarton Oaks. However, Fellows are strongly encouraged to plan their two years with attention to dissertation completion requirements and deadlines, as well as other milestones (such as post-doctoral and job applications). The work requirement, in particular, is mandatory for all Tyler Fellows, and no special dispensations can be made.

What are examples of institutional projects to which I will be asked to contribute?

Possibilities include, but are not limited to, study projects, online or curatorial projects, or exhibitions in the Library, Museum, or Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives; preparation of symposia, workshops, or colloquia; processing of archives and other acquisitions; and publications related to such activities. Such service is intended to benefit Fellows in two ways: by introducing them to professional activities that might not otherwise be included in their traditional doctoral program; and by helping them to engage with the scholarly community at Dumbarton Oaks and beyond.

How can I plan ahead for the work requirement?

Upon acceptance of the award, prospective Tyler Fellows will communicate with the Fellowships Coordinator, who will put them in touch with the appropriate departmental supervisor(s). The prospective Fellow and prospective supervisor will then discuss the nature and details of the project, and will agree on the work period during which the Fellow will be required to be in full residence at Dumbarton Oaks.

Will I be paid for the work requirement?

Contribution to an institutional project is a Fellowship requirement and will not entail pay in addition to the fellowship stipend.

What kind of access will I have to the resources of Dumbarton Oaks?

Tyler Fellows will have full access to the resources of Dumbarton Oaks, including the Research Library, collections (by appointment), and facilities, for the duration of their fellowship. However, inter-library loans will be available only to Tyler Fellows in residence. Office space and computer equipment are not guaranteed, although every effort will be made to provide Tyler Fellows working on an institutional project with desk space and a computer.

What medical insurance is provided?

Tyler Fellows will stay on their Harvard student health plan during their two-year Fellowship. Dumbarton Oaks will reimburse the cost of the student health plan and the student health fee, upon submission of appropriate receipts.

How will I receive my stipend and allowances?

The stipend will be paid in nine monthly installments per academic year, September to May. The first payment is paid by check in USD, and the remaining ones are paid by direct deposit.

Allowances for travel reimbursements are paid by check in USD, upon submission of appropriate receipts.

If you have further questions, please contact the Fellowship Program Coordinator at