Postdoctoral Program


  • Each fellow is expected to pursue original research and, in particular, to make substantial progress on new work that is significantly distinct from the dissertation. Fellows are expected to complete a working paper that represents a new line of research by the end of the second year. Each fellow will have an opportunity during the fellowship period to convene a manuscript workshop inviting 2-4 outside scholars to review and comment on their research in progress.
  • Fellows are expected to be in residence at Harvard for the duration of the fellowship, with the exception of the summer months.  Fellows who need to be off-site for longer than two weeks during regular term time must seek approval from the program director.
  • The fellows will co-organize a research workshop that will convene IAI affiliates on a monthly basis for the purpose of presenting and discussing work in progress. Each fellow will present in the workshop at least once per year.
  • Fellows are expected to participate in the activities of the Inequality in America Initiative, including but not limited to the research workshop.
  • Fellows may be able to extend the postdoctoral fellowship to a non-stipendiary third year, subject to approval of the program director and conditional on the fellow securing funding, potentially through teaching at Harvard.

The 2022 Postdoc Program 

Application deadlineFriday, November 12, 2021 by 11:59 PM EST

Letters of reference deadlineTuesday, November 30, 2021 by 11:59 PM EST

Appy here:

Social and economic inequality are urgent problems for our society, with implications for a range of outcomes from economic growth and political stability to crime, public health, family wellbeing, and social trust. The Inequality in America Initiative seeks applications from recent doctoral (or equivalent) degree recipients interested in joining an interdisciplinary network of Harvard researchers who are working to address the multiple challenges of inequality in the United States. We expect to appoint four fellows in the fall of 2022, with two positions dedicated to scholars whose work focuses specifically on issues of racial and ethnic inequality.

This postdoctoral training program is intended to seed new research directions; facilitate collaboration and mentorship across disciplines; and develop new leaders in the study of inequality who can publish at the highest level, reach the widest audience, and impact policy.

The Award

The fellowship is a two-year postdoctoral training program, with an optional third year conditional on program director approval and independent funding. The salary is $71,000/year plus fringe benefits, including health insurance eligibility.

The award will include office space[*] and up to $17,500 for research expenses across the two years, including computer equipment and travel[*]. We also provide $3000 toward relocation expenses for anyone moving from out of state (total includes withheld taxes, per US law; net will be included with second paycheck) and $3000 toward a manuscript workshop in the second year. 

The program director will pair each fellow with two Harvard faculty mentors, including one from outside the fellow’s primary discipline. Over fifty Harvard faculty are affiliated with the initiative, participating in one or more of five major research clusters:

  • America Inequality, Globally
  • Governance, Citizenship, and Social Justice
  • Mobility and Migration
  • Science, Technology, Education, and Health
  • Work, Family, and Opportunity

Applicants should indicate on their applications the research cluster that seems most relevant to their work, as this will aid us in identifying appropriate mentors. (Applicants do not need to identify mentors themselves.) Fellows will have ample opportunity and encouragement to make connections with faculty from across the initiative.

Application Process and Eligibility

Applicants to the 2022-23 program must have received a doctorate or terminal degree in April 2019 or later; those applicants without a doctorate or terminal degree must demonstrate that they will receive such a degree no later than August 2022.

The application must include the following in order to be reviewed:

  1. A CV.
  2. A 1-page summary of your proposed research in non-technical language, suitable for a broad audience outside of your discipline. Upload this to the “other statement” section of the application.
  3. A 2- to 3-page (<1500 words) research statement that includes a brief description of your dissertation research and a more detailed proposal for the project(s) you will pursue during the fellowship, including an explanation of the broader impacts of the research and how it connects with the goals of the program and your own long-term plans.
  4. One chapter- or article-length writing sample, no more than 25 pages. The writing sample may be published or unpublished, but should relate to your proposed topic and be clearly identified (i.e., please note co-authors, if it’s an excerpt from a longer work, and so forth).
  5. Three letters of recommendation.

Applicants must submit their materials by 11:59 PM EST, Friday, November 12, 2021.  All materials must be submitted at

Internal (Harvard-affiliated) candidates please note: Those who received terminal degrees from Harvard, and postdocs currently on a one-year term at Harvard, are eligible for the fellowship but must propose projects that take them in new directions that are significantly distinct from their current research and are intended to forge new connections within the University. Harvard candidates should not propose to continue to work with the same professors or research groups with whom they are currently associated. No candidate should propose to work extensively with his or her thesis advisor.

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, disability unrelated to job requirements, genetic information, military service, or other protected status. Minorities and women are especially encouraged to apply.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation must be received no later than 11:59 PM EST, Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

Please give your reference providers plenty of advance notice of the letter deadline--you do not want them to have to scramble to write and upload their letters within a short time window. They will not be able to upload their letters until you have submitted your application, at which point they will receive a system-generated email message (from with instructions. (If you submit your application on 11/12, your recommenders will have only about two weeks, including the Thanksgiving holidays, to upload their letters.)

Please make sure you have supplied current and accurate email addresses for your recommenders, and please monitor your application to make sure the letters have been submitted. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we simply do not have time to track down missing letters.

You may use Interfolio instead. Interfolio provides you with a unique email address for each letter of recommendation. You need to obtain that address from Interfolio and enter it in the section of your application that requests your reference provider's email address. (Once again, please double-check the Interfolio email address for accuracy.) Complete instructions are available at  the Interfolio Help Center.


Please read our FAQs first. See also the application portal help page. Otherwise, contact Jennifer Shephard (; 1.617.495.7906) with questions.


[*] As of the fall of 2021, Harvard has resumed much of its on-campus activity, and most business travel is permitted (subject to some restrictions). Campus access requires compliance with the University’s health and safety guidelines and protocols, including COVID19 vaccination and regular testing. Should the pandemic situation worsen, it is possible that remote work requirements will be instituted and that travel will be more highly restricted.

Q: Do I need to submit a cover letter?

A: No.

Q: Should I identify particular faculty with whom I would like to work?

A: No; the program director will select appropriate mentors.

Q: Should I reach out to any of the faculty affiliated with the initiative to discuss my application? 

A: No; due to the volume of applicants, faculty cannot meet with anyone during the application process.

Q: Does the work I propose have to be related to inequality in America specifically, or may I propose to study inequality globally, or in another country?

A: Because the focus of the initiative is inequality in America, your proposed research must address that topic. However, cross-cultural comparative research will be considered, as will research on American inequality within a global context.

Q: Does "inequality in America" mean inequality anywhere on the continents of North and South America, or is this short-hand for the "United States of America"?

A: We mean the United States, but comparative studies or research looking at the USA in a global context are of interest.

Q: Why do I need to submit a one-page non-technical summary of my proposed research?

A: Applications are reviewed by faculty from a wide variety of disciplines and subfields, and it's important that the goals and impacts of your research are explained in such a way that non-specialists can easily understand their significance. Please make sure to include this one-page summary in the "Other Statement" section of your application.

Q: Can I propose more than one project in my research statement?

A: Sure; if you plan to carry out multiple projects to address your research goals, please describe them.  Your research statement should outline what you hope to accomplish in the two years of your postdoc; ambitious is fine, but stay realistic!

Q: What kind of writing sample are you looking for?

A: Something that demonstrates your research and analytical skills, as well as your ability to communicate clearly and concisely; preferably a document of which you are the solo (or at least, first) author. It is better, for example, to submit a writing sample that clearly reflects your own skills rather than submitting an article published in a prestigous journal where you are just one of many authors. (After all, the prestigous article will be listed on your CV!) The writing sample does not have to be a published work, but please explain what it is, and list any co-authors.

Q: Do citations/references count as part of the word/page limit for the research statement and/or writing sample?

A: References are not counted as part of the page/word limit--that is, they can spill over onto additional pages. (However, keep in mind that your goal is not simply to submit the longest statement/writing sample possible! A concise, well-written argument can be very persuasive.)

Q: What if my writing sample is longer than 25 pages?

A: If it's a few pages longer, that's okay. However, the review committee will not read a substantially longer document. Furthermore, large files bog down our system. Please do not submit a document that greatly exceeds the page limit; instead, excerpt the relevant pages of a longer work.

Q: Do you require a specific format for references (e.g., APA, MLA, etc.)?

A: No; you can use any style.

Q: Do you accept applications from foreign nationals?

A: Yes, provided that your research experience and interests are relevant to the topic of inequality in America. However, any appointment at Harvard is contingent upon obtaining appropriate visa status, and the US government is the final arbiter of all immigration-related cases. The Harvard International Office, as regulations permit, is available to help individuals obtain temporary visa status (usually J-1 Scholar) to work at Harvard.

Q: Do I need to identify a faculty host for the purpose of visa sponsorship?

A: No. For the purpose of visa sponsorship the program director serves as faculty host.

Q: Who should I contact about technical difficulties with my application?

A: First, visit the Aries help page. If none of the information there applies, please email Please include as much information as possible about the issue you are having, including your computer's operating system and version (e.g., "Windows 10 Enterprise, version 1809, build 17763.737"), and your browser and version (e.g., "Google Chrome Version 76.0.3809.132 (Official Build) (64-bit)"), as well as what you were doing just prior to the issue occurring, and the text (or a screenshot) of any error messages.

Q: Is there an interview process for this fellowship?

A: No. Candidates are selected based on their application materials, including letters of recommendation.

Q: How competitive is this fellowship?

A: In 2020 we appointed 2 postdocs out of an applicant pool of over 350; in 2021 we appointed 4 postdocs out of an applicant pool of over 500. 

Q: Can I get feedback on why I was not selected as a finalist, or how to improve my application for next year?

A: Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications, we cannot offer specific feedback to candidates.

Q: What is the timeline for decisions?

A: We typically make our first-round decisions (to narrow the pool to a long 'short list') in January, and at that time we notify all applicants of their status. The committee meets to select finalists (initial offerees and short waitlist) in February, and again, we notify all remaining applicants at that time. The hiring process can extend into March, as this involves back and forth discussions with candidates.

Q. How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting Harvard's operations?

A: As of this writing (fall 2021), Harvard is resuming many on-campus operations, with numerous policies in place to protect the health and safety of all personnel. It is impossible to predict at this time what the fall of 2022 will look like.