Funding for Research, Language Training, and Fieldwork in the Middle East and Islamic World
An array of funding opportunities is available to graduate students specializing in the Middle East and / or the broader Islamic world. These opportunities exist to support talented students who are working to develop expertise in these important – but too seldom studied – regions.
Generally speaking, there are three types of award the support graduate-level training related to the Middle East and Islamic world:
1. Awards for Language Study: This category includes major fellowship programs such as the Boren Fellowships and Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, as well as more specialized awards for specific languages. Some competitions support beginning language learners, while others (depending on the language in question) may have prerequisites. Most competitions are also open to heritage learners. These competitions generally look for evidence of a serious, long-term commitment to mastering the language, as well as relevance to the applicant’s academic and career trajectory. In some cases (most notably the Boren Fellowships) language study may be combined with other activities such as research or an internship. In others, awardees are expected to devote themselves to full-time language study while on the award.
2. Awards for Research and/or Fieldwork: These awards support academic research and fieldwork. These competitions are usually intended for students in Ph.D. programs, but some are also open to master’s students. Awards assist with the costs associated with overseas travel, research and study. In some cases the grantee may also incorporate language training into his or her program of overseas study, but applicants will generally be expected to possess a level of fluency adequate to carrying out the proposed research at the time of application.
3. Other: A handful of other potentially useful awards have also been included in this list – such as dissertation fellowships in relevant fields and scholarships for Muslim-American students.
If you are interested in any of the awards on this list, here is how to proceed: First, carefully check deadlines and eligibility requirements using the program web site. Information contained here is abbreviated, and requirements / deadlines sometimes change. Note that many awards are restricted by citizenship and/or residency. Next, if you are considering applying for any of the awards listed here (or any others you have identified on your own) please contact the Office of Graduate Fellowships using the contact information listed at the bottom of the page.
Check AATT’s “Awards and Funding” tab for up to date funding opportunities for students of Turkish (and other Turkic languages.) Note that some opportunities for graduate students are listed under the “Faculty” heading, so check both the “Faculty” and “Student” awards.
AARII offers grants of up to $10,000 for advanced doctoral and post-doctoral scholars for research concerning Iraq in any period from ancient Mesopotamia to modern Iraq. Given current conditions in Iraq, it is not possible to conduct research there but funds may be used to conduct Iraq-related research that takes place outside the U.S. and Iraq (for example, using archival collections in Europe, Turkey, or India; museum collections in Europe; conducting ethnographic interviews with Iraqi communities living outside Iraq; or for collaborations between Iraq and U.S. scholars.) Deadline: December.
ACOR offers a variety of awards ranging from small travel grants to year-long dissertation fellowships for research in Jordan. Areas of research supported include topics in Middle Eastern Studies, Jordanian Studies, and archaeology. Citizenship and other requirements vary by award. Deadline for all awards is February 1 annually.
American Councils offers funding awards for overseas language training and research focused on Russia, E / SE Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Note that these fellowships may be used to fund research on Turkic and/or Muslim regions, groups, or histories in the aforementioned geographical areas. Length of project may vary up to 9 months. Open to U.S. citizens only, with funding available at both the master’s and doctoral levels. A new funding cycle will be announced in fall 2015.
Pre-dissertation Fellowships (for graduate students who have completed at least one year of study in a Ph.D. program but are not yet at the dissertation stage) of $3,000 are offered to support 2-4 months travel and study in Bangladesh. Junior Fellowships (for Ph.D. students at the ABD stage) support dissertation research of 6-12 months duration in Bangladesh, with travel and a monthly stipend provided. Postdoctoral fellowships are also available. Deadlines fall in September.
The American Institute of Indian Studies offers grants to conduct graduate-level research in India at the dissertation and postdoctoral levels in all fields, as well as fellowships in the visual and performing arts. No citizenship restrictions. Deadline falls on or about July 1 annually.
Dissertation and post-doctoral grants for research conducted in Indonesia pertaining to contemporary or traditional Indonesian studies. Three awards of $5,000 available annually. U.S. citizens only. (Some grants are also available to Indonesians for short-term research/study in the U.S.) Deadline: May 1.
Short-term (1-3 months, up to $6,000) and long-term (3+ months, up to $15,000) grants for graduate students (MA or PhD) or scholars for research in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, or Tunisia. Proficiency in either French or Arabic, as relevant to the project, is required.
AIIS offers fellowships for Persian language study in Iran (master’s and PhD students accepted) and dissertation research in Iranian Studies (PhD students only.) Applicants must be US citizens.
AIPS offers short-term and long-term fellowships for doctoral students and faculty members who are U.S. citizens to conduct research in Pakistan. Deadlines fall in January annually.
AIYS offers U.S. citizens awards of up to $6,000 for graduate student and faculty researchers to conduct research in Yemen. Small grants of $2,000 are also available for Yemeni researchers.
ARCE offers fellowships for doctoral students at U.S. institutions to conduct research in Egypt, as well as links to other programs sponsoring research in Egypt. Deadlines for all awards fall annually in January.
The American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) offers fellowship awards for research in all social science and humanities fields (dissertation and postdoctoral), or for advanced language training in Turkey. Their web site also lists additional sources for funding research in Turkey. Some awards have citizenship restrictions. Deadline: November 1 annually.
Supports overseas language study in less commonly studied languages (including Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, and other Middle Eastern / South Asian languages) with an emphasis on research/career goals related to U.S. national security interests and global concerns. Language study may be combined with research, internship, or coursework. Summer language study in the US will be supported under some circumstances when combined with overseas language training. Open to U.S. citizens in all fields of study. Fellows are required to work for the U.S. federal government (in most cases for 1 year) following graduation; the Boren program provides assistance with job placement. Deadline: Late January.
The Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) is an umbrella organization for American Overseas Research Centers, and has a well-established presence in the Middle East and South Asia. CAORC’s fellowship program supports comparative overseas research, including in the Islamic and Mediterranean world. The Multi-Country Research Fellowship may be used to support doctoral and postdoctoral research that requires travel to more than one country. Mediterranean Regional Fellowships support doctoral and post-doctoral research in Mediterranean zones of the Middle East and North Africa. Some of CAORC’s member organizations also host their own fellowship and grant programs for graduate students.
CASA offers advanced level training in Arabic language and culture to qualified American students, with programs taking place at the American University in Cairo and Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman. Applicants to CASA programs must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and should have a minimum of 3 years of formal instruction in Arabic prior to the start of the CASA program (meaning you are in your third year of college-level study at the time of application. Participants commit to a 12-month program of intensive Arabic study abroad. The award covers tuition, airfare, and living expenses and is valued at over $25,000. Admitted students pay a program fee of $2,500. Applications due in mid-December annually.
Dissertation completion fellowship to encourage original and significant study of ethical or religious values in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. In addition to topics in religious studies or ethics, topics such as the ethical implications of foreign policy, the values influencing political decisions, the moral codes of other cultures, or religious and ethical issues reflected in history, art, or literature are welcome. Approximately 20 awards of $25,000 are made per year for 12 months of full-time dissertation writing.
Small grants ($500-$4,000) in support of graduate level research (master’s or doctoral) in any field. May be used to support overseas travel or research. Limited to graduate students at DC metro area universities. No citizenship restrictions.
CLS is a Department of State program offering full funding to attend an overseas summer language program in a “critical” language, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu. For some languages no background is required and students at all stages (including beginners) may apply. Other languages (including Arabic) have prerequisites. Open to U.S. citizens only. Open to all fields of study, including master’s and doctoral students. Students who will graduate before the summer program begins remain eligible so long as they are enrolled at the time of application (November).
There are two basic types of Fulbright grants available to U.S. students: “Research/Study” grants allow students to conduct independent research and study overseas for one academic year. “ETA” grants fund students to assist in ESL classrooms around the world. In addition, some countries also offer other specialized types of Fulbright grants. U.S. citizens who are graduating seniors or graduate students in all fields of study who will not have received their Ph.D. by the start date of the grant are eligible. This award requires a campus-level review process; applicants must consult with the Director of Graduate Fellowships. Application is due September 15 annually.
Six to twelve months of funding for overseas dissertation research in areas outside western Europe. Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are advanced to doctoral candidacy, in good standing at their university, and who possess the language skills necessary to complete their project independently. Applications are normally accepted in spring for research beginning the subsequent fall/winter.
Interested candidates should check the web site for updates regarding the upcoming cycle. Please note that graduate students may also apply to the regular Fulbright U.S. Student Program to support overseas dissertation research.
The Qatar Scholarship Program is a program of Qatar University administered by the Center for Contemporary Arabic Studies at Georgetown University. This program offers intermediate- and advanced-level Arabic language students from the United States the opportunity to master their skills in an intensive Arabic language program at Qatar University in Doha for an entire academic year (September to June). The scholarship includes tuition, room and board in university dorms, round-trip airfare, local transportation and books. Application deadline: December.
The Institute of Turkish Studies offers a variety of grants supporting students and scholars at all levels, including summer language study grants, dissertation and post-doctoral fellowships, and grants to support participation in conferences. Application deadlines fall in early March annually.
The Islamic Scholarship Fund offers a scholarships of $2,000-$5,000 for Muslim students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents (including graduate students) at U.S. universities. The student’s graduate work must harmonize with ISF’s mission to improve understanding and acceptance of Islam by increasing Muslim American representation in professions that influence public policy and opinion. (A list of accepted majors/fields of study is at the web site.)
Covers the full cost of summer language study at Middlebury College’s Summer Language School (located in VT and CA.) Eligible languages are Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Portuguese, and Russian. The Davis Fellowships are merit-based and intended for exceptionally qualified individuals with demonstrated interest in one or more of the following areas: international, global, or area studies; international politics and economics; peace and security studies; and/or conflict resolution. Please note that admission to the Middlebury Summer Language School of your choice is a separate application process. Deadline: January
Approximately 10 yearly residential fellowships awarded to Ph.D. candidates of any nationality in archaeology, art history, history, and allied disciplines for dissertation research focused on the geographical area of Turkey / Anatolia from the Neolithic through the Ottoman eras. Fellows are resident in Istanbul at Koç University's Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, located in central Istanbul. No teaching requirement. Proficiency in Turkish is not required unless it is otherwise relevant to the topic of research. RCAC also offers a variety of other fellowship opportunities in specialized fields. See the web site for details. Deadline: December 15.
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) offers a graduate student paper prize and a graduate student travel grant competition annually. Travel grants are for students who will present a paper at the annual MESA conference. MESA’s graduate student listserv is also a good way to learn about new fellowship and scholarship opportunities in the field of Middle East Studies.
PARC offers fellowships for U.S. researchers (doctoral, post-doctoral, and faculty) for field research in Palestinian Studies, as well as awards for Palestinian scholars. Deadlines fall in January.
The Social Science Research Council runs a large number of academic fellowship programs, including funding opportunities for doctoral students, postdoctoral candidates, and early career professionals. The most popular of these awards, the IDRF, is listed separately on this page, but students in the Social Sciences and Humanities whose research is internationally focused are advised to review the entire list for other opportunities that may pertain to them. Available opportunities can change slightly from year to year, and it is worth checking back from time to time to get an updated list.
Offers 9-12 months of support to graduate students in the humanities and social sciences who are enrolled in doctoral programs in the US and conducting dissertation research outside the US. Students enrolled in Ph.D. programs in public policy, public health, and education, may be eligible to apply if their research projects engage directly with broader theoretical and analytical issues in the humanities and social sciences. Research topics may address all periods in history, but applicants should call attention to the broader implications of their work as it relates to contemporary issues and debates.
The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Oman offers scholarships for summer language study and grants for pre- or post-doctoral research in Oman. Research grants may be used to support individual scholars or teams of researchers. Deadlines vary by competition. Research grant deadline falls in September.
The Turkish Coalition of America offers scholarships to assist U.S. students from specified minority groups (African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and American students of Armenian, Bosnian, Filipino, and Macedonian heritage) for overseas study in Turkey. Although the assumption is that “study abroad” will take the form of direct enrollment at a Turkish university, the organization is open to supporting participation in other types of study abroad programs, including shorter-term study programs, and students who otherwise meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply. Turkish language study is not required.
The Turkish Cultural Foundation, a private philanthropic organization supporting the study and presentation of Turkish culture, art, and history, sponsors a number of different scholarship and fellowship initiatives, including some that are offered in partnership with other organizations. Complete information can be found at their web site, using the “Fellowships“ and "Scholarships” information tabs on the left hand side of the screen.
Dr. Kathryn E. Ágoston, Director of Graduate Fellowships, George Mason University 3 firstname.lastname@example.org • 703-993-3131 • Twitter @GradFellowsGMU