Do you have a great idea for an education-related journalism project? Do you need the time and resources to complete it?
The Spencer Fellowship for Education Reporting is open to journalists and educators who want to develop and publish an ambitious long-form journalism project that advances public understanding of education. Four fellows will be selected for this yearlong program based at Columbia Journalism School. The fellowship combines study and research with advising from faculty experts at Columbia, Teachers College and elsewhere.
We welcome a wide range of applicants in terms of professional background and experience, media and project ideas.
Candidates submit applications online 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 plan for research and study, and the applicant’s potential to complete and publish.
Candidates are notified close to April 1. The new fellows will be invited to a May orientation meeting at Columbia. Officially, the first day of the fellowship is at the end of August, when the new Master of Arts class convenes for orientation for the academic year. The semester begins after Labor Day.
There are residential and non-residential fellowship options. Each fellow is matched with a full-time faculty mentor from the Journalism School. In addition, each fellow selects an outside content advisor from any academic department outside the Journalism School. Meetings are set up on a one-on-one basis. In addition, fellows may select a researcher of their choice if such a one-on-one partnership makes sense for their 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 or online to share their research.
Residential fellows are expected to live near the Columbia campus in order to participate in events, take classes, and meet with their mentors, 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. The fellows will have a workspace in the Journalism School, complete with their own computer terminal, phone and printer.
Residential fellows are admitted as non-credit graduate students in order to comply with University requirements. They can take advantage of health insurance and access to libraries and other school facilities available to Journalism students. In addition, each fellow may make their own auditing arrangements for classes with the informal permission of professors inside and outside the journalism school throughout the year.
The non-residential option is designed for applicants who may not be able to relocate to New York City for the year for personal, or work-related reasons. We welcome all applicants, including journalists working in local media markets with limited resources that would welcome publishing an in-depth education project for their audience.
Non-residential fellows live and work off campus and will design their reporting, study and research plans with their mentors and the director of the program. They may continue to work part-time.
Non-residential fellows are admitted as “exchange scholars,” which means they are not eligible for health insurance. Coursework is limited by necessity, but other benefits remain available, such as access to Columbia libraries and campus buildings. Non-residential fellows receive the same level of expert mentoring and research assistance as residential fellows.
The Journalism School’s Master of Arts methods course, called Evidence and Inference, is required in the fall for all fellows. Non-residential fellows will be connected to the lectures remotely.
All U.S. citizens are eligible, including working journalists, freelancers and education professionals. There is no academic prerequisite. A college degree is not required. The most successful candidates are those with experience in the field of education journalism, defined in broad terms to include a wide swath of disciplines related to education such as juvenile justice, economics, arts and culture, poverty and the science of learning. Judges look for 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 potential to complete and publish or produce for a general audience.
Each residential fellow receives 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 for the year in project expenses, also dispensed in two halves.
Separately, the Spencer grant covers the cost of tuition and other student fees, plus basic student health insurance for residential fellows.
Non-residential fellows receive a $43,000 stipend and $7,500 project related expenses, each dispensed in two halves. Health insurance is not available.
How to apply:
The application is accepted online only. See the “How to Apply” category on this website. The application form is currently live.
Please feel free to contact the director, Prof. LynNell Hancock, email@example.com, or associate director, Barbara Kantrowitz, firstname.lastname@example.org.