Joan Shorenstein Fellowship and Application


Since the Shorenstein Center’s founding in 1986, the Fellowship Program has been central to its mission examining the intersection of media, politics and public policy. The purpose of the Joan Shorenstein Fellowship Program is to advance research in the field of media, politics and public policy and facilitate a dialogue among journalists, scholars, policymakers and students.

View past Fellows and their work.


About the Joan Shorenstein Fellowship Program

The Joan Shorenstein Fellowship Program is designed to bring journalists, scholars, politicians and policymakers to the Shorenstein Center to engage with students, faculty, other fellows, and the broader Harvard Kennedy School community. Fellows are expected to contribute to the center by publishing original content that aligns with and further’s the center’s core mission of examining how essential information is created, conveyed and consumed. 

Who should apply?

Career professionals from a variety of related fields are welcome to apply. Past fellows include journalists from local, national and international TV, radio, print, and digital media; media and civic technology innovators; nonfiction authors; political advisors and policymakers; leading academic scholars in fields such as media research and political science; and policy analysts.

The Shorenstein Center is committed to diversity, and actively encourages applications from all demographic backgrounds, and across the political spectrum.

Am I eligible?

The guidelines below offer further detail on the types of experience that lead to a successful application and fellowship experience; however, if you unsure if you are eligible we encourage you to contact our staff to discuss further.

  • Journalist:Reporters, editors, columnists, producers, media business executives and related, with a minimum of ten years of full-time experience either at professional news organizations or as a full-time freelancer (not including work completed as a university student). Non-traditional journalists and content creators with a track record of significant work in the public interest are welcome to apply.
  • Politician: Someone who has been elected to a national or high-level state office, or high-level communications professionals within politics and policy, e.g. speechwriters, press secretaries. Minimum of ten years experience (can be cumulative between elected office and other roles).
  • Scholar: Full faculty employed by a college, university or research institution in a field relevant to the Shorenstein Center’s areas of inquiry; or senior independent scholars affiliated with think tanks or other research institutions. Scholars should have at least 10 years experience. Post-doctoral fellows less than five years out from their PhD programs are not able to be accommodated in the Joan Shorenstein fellowship program.
  • Policymaker:Cabinet members or their advisors, governmental agency or administration officials, or policy advisors to high-level elected officials.
  • Documentary Filmmaker: Documentary filmmakers who are interested in a Shorenstein Center fellowship should apply to the center’s Documentary Film in the Public Interest initiative’s fellowship program.  

Applicants should not have participated in another fellowship within the two years prior to their preferred semester.

Applicants must be fluent in English – listening, reading, writing and speaking. Non-native English speakers must provide TOEFL or IELTS score.

What is expected of a fellow?

Fellows may engage with the center in a variety of ways. The minimum expectations of any fellow are:

  • Publishing original work on the Shorenstein Center’s website – this may take the form of expert commentaries, a white paper or policy paper, a podcast or video series, or other types of original content. The content should contribute meaningfully to the public’s understanding of how essential information is created, conveyed, and/or consumed. 
  • Engaging with students through a workshop, office hours, and/or speaking event.

Life as a Shorenstein Center fellow

Fellows work independently, with the support of center staff, on the project and/or research agenda agreed to between the fellow and the center. The exact nature of a fellow’s work varies depending on interests, goals, desired impact, and capacity. Fellows who are in-residence and doing significant research work are expected to make the fellowship their full-time commitment during their term. Shorter term fellowships or hybrid arrangements are possible, and may be proposed.  

Fellows have access to Harvard facilities and libraries during the term of their fellowship, and are encouraged to make connections to faculty and other fellows at HKS and across the university. After their term ends, fellows cannot maintain access to the libraries, or their Harvard email, or other Harvard systems. They are encouraged to stay connected to the Shorenstein Center, and may continue to contribute expert commentary writing and engage with the center’s events and student programming, after their fellowship ends. 

Financial assistance and other resources

Stipends and other financial and material assistance for fellows are dependent on need, and scope of a fellow’s work and contribution to the center. You may indicate in the application whether you would require financial assistance to do your proposed project or fellowship activities. Stipend funds are limited and not guaranteed. 


Application deadlines

The Joan Shorenstein Fellowship has moved to a rolling application, which will open in June 2024. Applications will be accepted at any time in the year, and applicants should indicate their preferred term/timeframe for their fellowship. Staff and faculty will review applications within 4-6 weeks of receipt. If the review committee is interested in your proposal we will contact you for further information, references, and interviews.  We cannot respond to all applications, so if you do not hear back within three months you should assume that your application was not selected to move forward in the review process.