Eligibility and Guidelines


All scholar applicants must have a Ph.D. or comparable terminal degree, or a career background that establishes their ability to conduct high-level, peer-reviewed scholarly research. Most selected applicants are typically several years beyond the Ph.D. The Foundation does not accept applications to the Visiting Scholar program from doctoral or other graduate students. Individuals are allowed a maximum of two visits to the Foundation as a Visiting Scholar—the second visit may not occur within 7 years of the first visit.

Selection Criteria

All Visiting Scholar applications are externally reviewed by experts selected by the Foundation and final decisions are made by a sub-committee of the Russell Sage Board of Trustees and then ratified by the full Board.

The selection of Visiting Scholars is based on both an individual’s demonstrated record of research accomplishment and the merit of the applicant’s proposed project. Several criteria are given special consideration in the selection process. The project’s relevance to the Foundation’s declared mission to contribute to “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States” is given substantial weight—this ordinarily rules out studies of other countries unless they are part of an explicitly comparative project aimed at elucidating conditions in the U.S. Strong preference is given to proposals connected to RSF’s current programs and initiatives, although a few scholars are invited each year whose projects are less immediately relevant to the Foundation’s current activities, particularly if these projects are especially innovative and could potentially lead the Foundation to consider new and promising research directions in the future. We also make a special effort to include talented younger scholars and to promote racial/ethnic, gender and disciplinary diversity in each year’s cohort.

Working Group Applications

The Foundation welcomes groups of two or more scholars who wish to collaborate on or pursue parallel research projects within an area of common interest. Every member of a working group must submit an individual application. Working group applications must include a common statement of the joint project to be undertaken by the group. In the case where one or more group members may not be entirely occupied by the group project, additional detail should be included in the proposal about other individual research to be pursued while in residence.

Other Considerations

When individuals apply for a Visiting Scholar fellowship, the foundation's primary criterion during the selection process is the quality of the proposed research project. A book proposal is not required, and we do not prioritize book manuscripts over journal articles. However, RSF does publish books and if a book is proposed, it reserves the right of first refusal.

The fellowship year is designed to give scholars time to analyze data and write about the results of their research; it is not intended as an opportunity to collect new data.

The Russell Sage Foundation seeks to promote diversity through all of its program activities. The Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race/ethnicity, color, religion, gender and/or gender identity, pregnancy or parental status, marital or domestic partner status, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


If you have any questions about any aspect of the application process or the Visiting Scholar Program in general, please contact Program Director James Wilson at programs@rsage.org.

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


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