The application contains the following components:

  1. Eligibility Questionnaire
  2. Applicant Information
  3. Contact Information for Three References — See below for recommendation letter instructions.
  4. Curriculum Vitae (PDF Upload)
  5. Research Proposal (PDF Upload) No more than 2,000 words addressing the following questions:
    • Describe your dissertation or other current research.
    • What questions are you interested in addressing as a Bell Fellow? How will this build on your work to date, fill gaps in your current knowledge, and change your career trajectory?
    • Describe your current methodological and analytical skills, and what advanced training you would hope to achieve in this area.
    • Describe which Pop Center faculty member(s) you would be interested in collaborating with. You may list a non-member but s/he must have a full time Harvard appointment. You do NOT have to contact potential mentors/collaborators prior to applying for the fellowship.
  6. Writing Sample (PDF Upload) that demonstrates your writing and analytical skills, as well as your ability to generate interesting and original ideas. This can be a published article or a draft publication. The writing sample is limited to 20 pages; pages beyond the first 20 will not be reviewed.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a key component of the application and are weighed heavily. It is expected that applicants will provide their referees with the appropriate instructions. Letters will be matched to applications by applicant name, so please indicate to referees how the applicant name appears (or will appear) on your online application form.

Letters must be submitted to the HCPDS Letter of Recommendation Portal at:

Instructions for fellowship applicant referees

Instructions for fellowship applicant referees (PDF)

  • Each of the three letters of recommendation must be uploaded directly to the HCPDS Letter Portal at:
  • Letters should be on institutional letterhead if possible.
  • The deadline to submit recommendation letters is the same as the application deadline – Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 12:00 P.M. EST. The portal will shut down at 12:01 P.M. EST.
  • All letters should contain the following information:
    • How long referee has known applicant
    • Relationship to the applicant (e.g. advisor)
    • Quantitative ranking of applicant to others (e.g. top 10%)
  • In addition, the letter should comment on the applicant’s:
    • Writing skills
    • Analytical skills
    • Ability to form new and creative ideas and research questions
    • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment

Referees may provide any additional, related comments that they believe will help reviewers evaluate the merit of the applicant.

Note that all incoming scholars must have completed their doctoral requirements, and provide proof to HCPDS by August 24, 2021. The following forms of proof will be accepted:

  1. Copy of Diploma (Preferred); or
  2. Letter from Registrar’s Office noting that all doctoral requirements have been completed; or
  3. Letter from chair of thesis committee noting that all doctoral requirements have been completed.

Candidate(s) will be chosen by March 2021.

Questions? Please contact us at


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