Apply to Be a Visiting Scholar

The Russell Sage Foundation’s Visiting Scholars Program provides a unique opportunity for select scholars in the social, economic, political and behavioral sciences to pursue their data analysis and writing while in residence at the foundation’s headquarters in New York City.

The foundation annually awards 15 to 17 Visiting Scholar fellowships. Applicants must be at least two years beyond the Ph.D. when applying, and if selected, typically work on projects related to the foundation’s core programs (Behavioral Science and Decision Making in Context; Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity and Immigration; Social, Political and Economic Inequality) and special initiatives.

Recent scholars have addressed topics such as:

Current and previous scholars represent the diversity of the social sciences including anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology, as well as many other related fields (e.g., behavioral sciences, criminal justice, demography, education, history, law, public and social policy, public health, social epidemiology, social work, statistics, and urban planning, among others).

The Visiting Scholar fellowship is one of the preeminent fellowships of its kind within the social sciences. During their time at the Foundation, scholars will interact with other scholars from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, as well as Visiting Journalists, Visiting Researchers, Margaret Olivia Sage Scholars, and RSF staff in programs, communications and publishing. This residential fellowship requires significant Foundation resources and scholars are expected to fully engage in the intellectual life of RSF. For that reason, scholars are expected to be in their office at least 75 percent of the days that RSF is open.

The 10-month residential fellowship runs from September 1st through June 30th. The Foundation also welcomes applications for half-year visits to occur during the 5-month period from either September through January, or February through June.

Scholars are provided with an office at the foundation, a computer and software, access to research materials including online journals and databases, and salary support of up to 50 percent of their academic year salary – up to a maximum of $125,000 for the full year, or $62,500 for half of the year – when unavailable from research grants or other sources. RSF support will be limited to less than 50% when funds from other sources (including university sabbatical support) provide more than 50% of the academic year salary. Scholars who reside outside the greater New York City area are provided with a partially subsidized apartment near the Foundation offices. If scholars are fully funded by external sources, the RSF apartment may be fully subsidized. Childcare subsidies are also available for children below the age of 13.

In exceptional cases, applicants may request more than 50% of their current academic salary (up to a maximum of $125,000) when their employer does not provide paid sabbaticals. The following circumstances will receive consideration when sabbatical support or funds from other sources are not available: (1) tenure track faculty within 7 years of having completed a PhD (excluding time off for parental leave); (2) scholars in non-tenure track research positions (excluding post-doctoral fellows); or (3) researchers at non-profit organizations, government agencies, or other similar research-focused positions. 

Because of the high cost of living in New York City, RSF provides a minimum salary for scholars who are offered a fellowship. Under certain circumstances and conditional on the guidelines above, those earning less than $90,000 per year may receive a salary supplement from RSF that is in addition to its standard 50% contribution. The sum of the supplement and the scholar’s annual salary would total $90,000 for the fellowship period ($45,000 for one term visitors).

To Apply

  1. Consult our upcoming deadlines page to find the next application period. Applications are typically due at the end of June for a fellowship period starting in September of the following calendar year.
  2. Visit our online application portal, create an account, or log into an existing account, and complete the application form. All applications must be submitted through the portal. New accounts must be created at least one week before an application deadline. Activating a new account may take up to two business days.
  3. Submit a five-page proposal describing the project to be undertaken while in residence at the Foundation. No more than 5 single-spaced pages, with standard 11 or 12-point font and 1-inch margins—excluding up to 2 pages of references and figures/tables).
  4. Submit an up-to-date abbreviated CV (5 pages maximum).

We do not accept supplementary application materials such as papers and recommendations.

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.

Eligibility and Guidelines

All applicants must have a Ph.D. or comparable terminal degree, or a career background that establishes their ability to conduct high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarly research. Applicants must be at least two years beyond the Ph.D. at the application deadline.

Individuals are allowed a maximum of two visits to RSF as a Visiting Scholar. A former visiting scholar may apply for a second fellowship that would begin no earlier than seven years after their first visit. However, because of the limited number of scholars selected each year and the high-quality of the applications, first-time applicants, all else equal, receive priority.

Selection Criteria

All applications undergo internal screening for relevance to RSF’s priority areas and the strength of the application. Applications that are internally approved are then externally reviewed by experts selected by the Foundation. Final selection decisions are made by a committee of the Russell Sage Board of Trustees.

The selection of Visiting Scholars is based on both an individual’s demonstrated record of research accomplishments and the scientific merit of the applicant’s proposed project. Several criteria receive special consideration. The project’s relevance to RSF’s declared mission to contribute to “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States” is given substantial weight—this usually rules out studies of other countries unless they are part of a comparative project aimed at elucidating social and living conditions in the U.S. Strong preference is given to proposals focused on RSF’s priorities. On occasion, selected scholars work on projects less immediately relevant to RSF’s priorities that are innovative and might influence the Foundation to consider new directions. We also make a special effort to include talented early-career scholars and to promote racial/ethnic, gender and disciplinary diversity in each year’s class.

Working Group Applications

The Foundation will consider applications from groups of two, and in some exceptional circumstances, up to three scholars, who are collaborating on a common research project. Priority is given to geographically dispersed collaborators, where time together would advance the completion of the project.

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. 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. Working group applications may result in some, but not all working group members being selected.

Other Considerations

When individuals apply for a Visiting Scholar fellowship, RSF’s primary criterion during the external review and selection process is the quality of the proposed research project. RSF does not consider publication type, e.g., book manuscripts or journal articles, in its selection decisions. However, RSF does publish books and if a book is proposed, RSF reserves the right to publish.

The fellowship year is intended to provide scholars extensive time to prepare and analyze data and write about the results of their research; it is not intended as an opportunity to carry out fieldwork or engage in new or continuing data collection.

If an applicant is selected as a Visiting Scholar, Foundation policy does not allow the applicant to defer their visit. If the applicant is not able to come for the fellowship year for which they are selected, they will need to reapply for a subsequent fellowship year.

The Foundation seeks to promote diversity through all of its activities. It does not discriminate on the basis of race/ethnicity, color, religion, gender and/or gender identity, pregnancy, 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

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.

Learn more about Apply to Be a Visiting Scholar


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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