The Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship based at Columbia Journalism School is open to journalists and educators who want to develop and publish an ambitious, long-form journalism project to advance the understanding of education for a general audience. Applicants with reporting experience in education and related fields or educators who have experience in journalism are encouraged to apply.
Three fellows will be selected for this program, which combines study, research, reporting and mentoring support for one academic year. There are residential and non-residential options. For information on the differences, see the About the Fellowship page.
Fellows receive a stipend of $85,000 for residential, or $43,000 for non-residential, plus $7,500 in project expenses. Each fellow is matched with a Columbia Journalism School faculty member who serves as a project adviser. In addition, each fellow selects an expert content professor from Teachers College or from another relevant department inside or outside Columbia University. Additional support is available for a selected one-on-one research partner, if it makes sense for an individual project. There are no academic prerequisites.
The deadline is Feb. 1, 2024, for the 2025-25 academic year. Successful applicants will be notified by April 1.
NOTE: Applicants must use the online application. We cannot process applications that are submitted in any other form. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents.
The application includes:
- A resume and a professional narrative biography. The narrative biography is more personal than a traditional resume and should illustrate the origins of your commitment to the general field of education.
- No more than four examples of work that demonstrate interest in education research and writing. This can include newspaper and magazine clips, broadcasts, films, books, monographs, academic reports, or other writing samples. Applicants must provide links to any work they submit. We cannot distribute the work to the judges without links.
- An essay about the proposed project. Judges look for ambitious, high impact, original topics that have the potential to enrich the general public’s understanding of education issues. Applicants may emphasize their topic’s potential to benefit from access to the rich resources available during the fellowship year. Include any related projects currently in progress, tentative reporting and research plans, and the potential for getting the final work published. Applicants may include a documented promise of future publication, such as a letter of commitment from a publisher or news organization or a book contract, although this is not required. Applicants may also indicate a commitment to the field of education journalism after the fellowship year.
- An essay on the proposed areas of research during the fellowship year. Judges look for candidates who demonstrate an interest in taking advantage of the expertise, courses and research resources available at Columbia University and elsewhere in ways that may materially enhance their projects. Applicants may include potential research questions, professors whose work intrigues them and academic experts they would like to work with one-on-one during the year.
- Non-residential candidates are required to write a separate essay indicating why this option would work best. For some, leaving a job and relocating to New York City for a year is not feasible. Non-residential fellows live off campus and may continue to work part-time, as long as their work schedule allows enough time to devote to the project and fellowship. Non-residential fellows enjoy the same expert mentoring and access to research resources as residential fellows, but do not have access to courses or health insurance. Indicate your plans to use remotely the research support provided by the fellowship and for ultimately publishing the finished work. Applicants who intend to publish their project with their current news organization should indicate how that would work with their employer. In such cases, applicants may want to ask their immediate editor to write one of the recommendation letters supporting them and their project. 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 that their news organization might otherwise find difficult to support.
- Three letters of recommendation. Letters may be from past employers, relevant professors, or other professionals who know the candidate’s work history and professional commitment to the topic well. If it applies, one letter could be from the publication or editor who has shown interest in the project.
For further questions, contact LynNell Hancock, email@example.com