FAQ about SAAM Fellowships

Q: What are the expectations and benefits of being a SAAM Fellow?
A: Fellows are expected to be in residence full time at the museum, where they will be provided with a study carrel and access to the Smithsonian’s holdings of primary and secondary resources.One of the benefits of a SAAM fellowship is the opportunity to become part of a scholarly community, thus each cohort of fellows participates in regular meetings, professional development workshops, work-in-progress sharing sessions, and end-of-tenure public talks. 

Q: How do I apply for named fellowships at SAAM, such as the Terra Foundation Fellowships?
A: All candidates interested in an appointment at this museum should propose a SAAM primary advisor and submit their application to the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP). Only one application is necessary. Applicants to the SIFP who list a SAAM primary advisor will automatically be considered for the museum’s named awards, including the Barnet, Corn, Douglass, Frost, Gurney, Taylor, Truettner, Windgate, and Wyeth Fellowships.

Q: I don’t see an application for the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP) under the SAAM's name in the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). How do I find it?
The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program is administered by the Office of Academic Appointments and Internships. Once inside SOLAA, under Search for Programs, you will see a field labeled Office/Museum/Research Center. From the drop-down menu, select Office of Academic Appointments and Internships (not Smithsonian American Art Museum). From there, you can select the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program application that is appropriate for you (graduate student, predoctoral, postdoctoral, or senior).

Q: If I want my fellowship to be hosted by SAAM, can I propose a co-advisor or consultants based at a different Smithsonian unit?
Yes, as long as the primary sponsor is based at SAAM. Applicants with interdisciplinary projects are especially encouraged to identify co-advisors or consultants at multiple Smithsonian units.

Q: How do I identify the best Smithsonian advisor(s) for my research project?
A directory of Smithsonian research staff and their specialties is available in the Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (SORS) Guide. SAAM also provides bios of select staff on its website. Additional queries can be directed to SAAM’s Fellowship Office at (202) 633-8353 or SAAMFellowships@si.edu .

Q: I notified my potential Smithsonian advisor(s) that I wish to list them on my application, but I have not heard back. Can I still list that person on my application?
Yes. Applicants are encouraged to contact potential Smithsonian advisors early in the application process with a brief description of their topic to allow them enough time to respond. As the application deadline approaches, though, many Smithsonian staff are inundated with inquiries. If you do not hear back from your choice of advisor by the application deadline, you may go ahead and submit their name.

Q: Is it appropriate to list on my application the research resources that I hope to utilize at other Smithsonian museums? What about non-Smithsonian institutions, such as the Library of Congress and National Archives and Records Administration?
Yes. SAAM fellows are encouraged to use collections and archives across the institution and in the Washington, D.C., area.

Q: By when must I submit my application?
The online application system (SOLAA) closes at midnight Eastern Standard Time on November 1st. All application materials and reference letters must be submitted by that time. Please remind your referees of all deadlines and have them to check their Spam folder if they have not received the reference request link from SOLAA.

Q: In the application, under Program Choices, I am asked to indicate where I am traveling from and traveling to. What should I enter in those fields?
SAAM fellowships are residential, so you should list your current city of residence in the first field, and enter Washington, D.C., in the second field.

Q: Under Program Choices, I am asked to indicate the proposed dates of my fellowship tenure. What are my tenure options?
The standard term of residency for pre-, postdoc, and senior fellowships is twelve months, but terms as short as three months will be considered. Stipends are prorated for periods of less than twelve months. SAAM fellowships may begin on or after June 1st of that year and must conclude by August 31st of the following year. Graduate student fellowships are limited to ten weeks and should take place between June 1 and August 31.

Q: Are there any word-count limits for the bibliography, budget, and timetable?
The proposal narrative is not to exceed 1500 words, maximum six-pages (double-spaced, 11-point type). There is no word-count limit for the bibliography, budget, nor timetable.

Q: Can I include images in my proposal?
Yes, these can be included in the proposal narrative and count toward the six page-count limit.

Q: What types of expenses are eligible for inclusion in the proposed research budget request?
The research allowance is solely intended to support essential research travel during your Smithsonian fellowship (e.g. airfare and lodging to visit a private collection outside of Washington, D.C.). Trips that will last longer than three weeks require advanced approval from the Smithsonian advisor and program chair. You may include the cost of meals and incidentals during travel using the GSA’s M&IE guide. Your budget request should not include costs for relocation, as that is awarded separately. The Smithsonian cannot provide funds for travel or living expenses of dependents. Other ineligible expenses include equipment costs, photocopying fees, and funding for a research assistant.

Q: Are there any special requirements for applicants conducting research with Indigenous communities?
Applicants conducting research with Indigenous communities should provide information on the current state of consultation, appropriate contacts, and plans for sharing research findings with these communities. A tribal letter of approval or tribal community endorsement will strengthen a proposal and may be submitted as an additional reference letter.

Q: What Smithsonian policies apply to fellows whose projects involve research with human subjects?
A: Smithsonian fellows are required to comply with Smithsonian Directive 606 “Research Involving Human Subjects.” Fellows whose research involves collecting data from human subjects must demonstrate formal certification in the protection of human participants. Questions? Email SAAMFellowships@si.edu.