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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 and behavioral sciences to pursue their research and writing while in residence at the Foundation’s New York headquarters. Research carried out by Visiting Scholars constitutes an important part of the Foundation’s ongoing effort to analyze and understand the complex and shifting nature of social and economic life in the United States. While Visiting Scholars typically work on projects related to the Foundation’s current programs, a few scholars whose research falls outside these areas are occasionally invited as well. Descriptions of our prior Visiting Scholar classes along with summaries of their projects attest to the diversity of scholars, disciplines and projects selected.

The Foundation annually awards about 17 residential fellowships to social scientists who are at least 3 years beyond the Ph.D. Visiting Scholar positions begin September 1st and ordinarily run through June 30th. On rare occasions, scholars visit for only half this period, starting either in September or in February.

Scholars are provided with an office at RSF, computer and library facilities, and salary support of up to 50 percent of their academic year salary when unavailable from research grants or other sources (up to a maximum of $125,000 for the full term, or $62,500 for half of the full term). Scholars who reside outside the greater New York City area are provided with a partially-subsidized apartment near the Foundation offices. Child care subsidies are also available for children below the age of 13.

The following people may request more than 50% of their current academic salary (up to a maximum of $125,000) when their employer does not provide sabbaticals to employees in these categories and when 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); (3) Researchers at non-profit organizations/government agencies. 

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

This residential fellowship requires significant Foundation resources and scholars are expected to fully engage in the intellectual life of RSF. For that reason, they are expected to be in their office at least 75 percent of the days that the Foundation is open.

Application Process

All applications undergo an initial internal screening for relevance to the Foundation’s priority areas and the strength of the application. Applications that are approved as part of the initial screen are sent out for external review by experts selected by the Foundation. The final selection decisions are made by a committee of the Russell Sage Board of Trustees.

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

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.

To Apply:

  1. Consult our upcoming deadlines page to find the next application period
  2. Visit our online application portal, create an account, and complete the application form.
  3. Submit a short proposal through the portal describing the project to be undertaken while in residence at the Foundation (Note: No more than 5 pages, single spaced, 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) through the portal.

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. Applicants must be at least 3 years beyond the Ph.D. Doctoral or other graduate students are not eligible to apply. 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 no more than three scholars who wish to collaborate on or pursue parallel research projects within an area of common interest. Priority will be given to geographically-dispersed collaborators, where time together would be beneficial to advancing 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 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

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.



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