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.

2023 Postdoc Program Details

Application deadline: Sunday, November 13, 2022 by 11:59 PM EST

Letters of reference deadline: Wednesday, November 23, 2022 by 11:59 PM EST

Appy here: [link removed on 11/14/2022]

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 2023, 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 $73,500/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 fall 2023 program must have received a doctorate or terminal degree in April 2020 or later; those applicants without a doctorate or terminal degree must demonstrate that they will receive such a degree no later than August 2023.

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

  1. A CV.
  2. A brief (250 word) personal statement explaining how your research agenda, training, and background equip you to be a strong contributing member of a multidisciplinary community of scholars of inequality.
  3. A 2- to 4-page (<2000 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. Keep in mind that applications are reviewed by faculty from a wide variety of disciplines and subfields, so it's important that the goals and impacts of your research (and your methods, to the extent possible) are explained in such a way that non-specialists can easily understand their significance. 
  4. One chapter- or article-length writing sample, no more than 25 pages (an excerpt from a longer work is acceptable). 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, please explain; and so forth).
  5. The names and email addresses of 3 referees, who will be asked via a system-generated email to upload their letters of recommendation once the candidate’s application materials have been submitted.

Applicants must submit their materials by 11:59 PM EST, Sunday, November 13, 2022.  All materials must be submitted at [link removed on 11/14/2022].

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. We are strongly committed to creating and supporting a diverse workforce. Respect and fairness, kindness and collegiality, and trust and transparency are among the values we espouse and promote in our workplace culture. We work hard to ensure a healthy, inclusive, and positive environment where everyone does their best work in support of Harvard’s mission.

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 advisors or research groups with whom they are currently associated. 

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation must be received no later than 11:59 PM EST, Wednesday November 23, 2022. We will not consider applications that are incomplete.

Please give your referees plenty of advance notice of the letter deadline. 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 academicpositions@harvard.edu) with instructions. Thus, if you submit your application on the deadline of 11/13, your referees will have just over one week 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 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.

Questions

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


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 also focus on 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 (though, as noted above, comparative studies or research looking at the USA in a global context are potentially of interest).

Q: What disciplines are eligible?

A: We don't have strict criteria, and we have funded a diverse group of scholars. Most of the proposals we've received come from scholars in traditional social science fields, but if we believe we can identify suitable mentors we will consider applications from other disciplines. Please contact iai@fas.harvard.edu if you have questions about fit.

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 should I submit?

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 in any case, and committee members can track it down.) The writing sample does not have to be a published work, but please explain what it is, and list any co-authors.

Q: Do citation/reference lists (bibliographies) count as part of the word/page limit for the research statement and/or writing sample?

A: These 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: Do I need to include citation/reference lists (bibliographies) for my research statement and/or writing sample?

A: Probably. For instance, if you are citing other researchers' work to explain your own research, you should attribute this and include the full citation at the end of the research statement and/or writing sample. That said, your research statement is a concise explanation of your plans, not a full scholarly paper. Your citation list might not be very long!

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 (including citations) of a longer work.

Q: Do you require a specific format for citations/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 (i.e., in the USA). 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: Do the application materials have to be written in English?

A: Yes, all materials, including the letters of recommendation, must be in English.

Q: How does the letter of recommendation component of the application work?

A: First, please note that you should alert your referees of the letter-of-recommendation deadline (Nov 23) well in advance. They might find it helpful, in terms of tailoring their letters, if you provide some information about the fellowship and your research proposal. In terms of actual submission mechanics:

  • In the application the applicant lists email addresses for three referees. These email addresses must be accurate and cannot include hidden spaces at the beginning or end or any other typos. Triple-check this! These can be the referees' personal email addresses, or they can be the email addresses of a departmental office that processes letters of recommendation, or they can be the email addresses of your letter-writers' assistants. They can even be Interfolio email addresses. Just keep in mind that this is the only way we will get in touch with your referees, and this will be done in an automated fashion through the portal. We do not have the bandwidth to chase down missing letters or to try to find alternate methods of contacting referees.
  • As soon as an applicant submits their application (on November 13th or earlier), this triggers the portal to send an automated message to all three referee email addresses. Applicants (who are not using Interfolio) may want to let their referees know to look for an email message from academicpositions@harvard.edu (occasionally referees may have to search their spam/junk filters). Note that referees will not be able to upload their letters to the portal in advance of the applicant's submission.
  • Referees should follow the instructions for uploading their letters in the email from academicpositions@harvard.edu. They may have better luck if they upload a PDF over a Word doc, but if the upload is successful (or not), they should receive a message on their screen.
  • Applicants should be tracking the letter submissions per these instructions. Applications that are missing letters will be considered incomplete and will not be forwarded to the selecton committee for review. (If an applicant notices an error on one of the email addresses after submitting their application, but before the letter deadline, they can contact Jennifer Shephard [see below], and she can help fix the error.)

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 academicpositions@harvard.edu. 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: 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: What are my chances of receiving this fellowship?

A: In terms of sheer numbers, we typically receive several hundred applications per year for just four positions. This should not discourage anyone from applying! We are seeking a large and diverse pool of candidates, and we are especially interested in receiving applications from populations that are typically under-represented in higher education as well as from candidates from beyond the 'Ivy League'! 

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

A: As of this writing (fall 2022), Harvard has relaxed most of its pandemic-related restrictions, though vaccination is still required. While it's not possible to predict at this time what the fall of 2023 will look like, this site is updated on an ongoing basis.

Current Postdocs

Alaysia Brown
human and family development scientist
2022-24

Peter Harvey
sociologist
2022-24

Jessica Katzenstein
anthropologist
2022-24

Daegyeong ("D.G.")Kim
political scientist
2022-24

Margaret Brower
political scientist
2021-23

Sophie Jacobson
political scientist
2021-23

Aja Lans
anthropologist
2021-23

Janet Xu
sociologist
2021-23

Former Postdocs

Chris Herring
sociologist
2020-22

Irene Jaqcz
economist
2020-22

   

Michael Aguirre
historian
2019-21

Miao Qian
psychologist
2019-21

   

Anthony Johnson
sociologist
2018-20

Paige Sweet
sociologist
2018-20