Spencer candidates submit applications online to the Journalism School by Feb. 1 for the following academic year. A distinguished board of education journalists and scholars convenes in March to select the following year’s cohort. The board considers the quality of the project proposal, the ability of the candidate to complete and publish, and the candidate’s plans for research and study at Columbia.
Candidates are notified by April 1 about the results of that selection. The new fellows will be invited to a May orientation meeting at Columbia to smooth their entry in the fall logistically and academically. Officially, the first day of the fellowship is at the end of the following August, when the new Master of Arts class convenes for orientation for the academic year. Classes begin right after Labor Day.
There are residential and non-residential options. Each fellow is matched with a mentor from the Journalism School who helps advise their project. In addition, the fellows select an outside content advisor from any academic department outside the Journalism School that may enhance their work. Meetings are set up on a one-on-one basis. Fellows are encouraged to partner with a researcher of their choice according to the needs of their specific project. The fellows meet regularly as a group with the director, in person, or remotely. Throughout the year, scholars and other professionals are invited to meet with the fellows for special dinners to share their research.
Residential fellows are expected to live within commuting distance of the Columbia campus in order to participate in events, take classes, and meet with the director, their mentors, and other scholars, students and researchers during the course of the year. Fellows should not take on outside employment, except with the approval of the director. They are responsible for finding housing. Access to Columbia housing is available on a limited basis.The fellows will have a workspace provided by the Journalism School, complete with computer terminals, phones and printers.
Nonresidential fellows live off campus and will work out their reporting, study and research plans with their mentors, partner researchers and the director of the program. Classes that are available remotely, or semi-remotely are open to nonresidential fellows subject to individual instructor’s informal permission.
The Journalism School’s MA methods course, Evidence and Inference, is required of all fellows in the fall. In addition, each may make their own auditing arrangements for classes with professors inside and outside the school throughout the year.
The fellows are admitted as non-credit graduate students in order to comply with University requirements. Fellows can take advantage of all healthcare benefits and access to libraries and other school facilities available to Journalism students.
All U.S. citizens are eligible, including working journalists, freelancers and education professionals. There is no academic prerequisite required, nor a college degree. The most successful candidates are those with at least five years of experience in the field of education, and a demonstrated ability to research and tell stories in a journalistic style. The strength of the project idea is key, along with the candidate’s ability to complete and publish or produce for a general audience.
Each residential fellow will be awarded an $85,000 scholarship for personal living expenses. The scholarship is dispensed in two halves at the beginning of each semester. In addition, each fellow receives $7,500 a year for travel, and other project-related expenses, also dispensed each semester.
Separately, the Spencer grant covers the cost of tuition and other student fees, plus basic student health insurance.
The nonresidential option is designed for applicants who may not be able to relocate to New York City for the year for any number of reasons. Anyone eligible may apply. Journalists working in local media markets with limited resources are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to pursue an in depth project for your local audience that ordinarily would be difficult for your news organization to support.
Nonresidential fellows receive a $43,000 stipend, plus $7,500 project related expenses. All benefits available to residential fellows are offered to non-residential fellows.
How to apply:
The application is accepted online only. See the “How to Apply” category on this website. The application form will go live closer to the deadline.
Please feel free to contact the director, Prof. LynNell Hancock, firstname.lastname@example.org, or associate director, Barbara Kantrowitz, email@example.com.