Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility Questions
  • Eligibility Questions
  • Recommendation Letter Questions
  • Application Essays/Prompt Questions
  • General Application Questions
  • General Fellowship Questions

Eligibility Questions

Do I have to be US citizens to apply? Is a visa available through the fellowship?

​No, candidates do not have to be U.S. citizens. Every year we have quite a few foreign nationals.  We sponsor fellows for visas and provide guidance on the process through Stanford’s Bechtel International Center.  Please note that some types of visas from some countries are currently very difficult to obtain. If you are accepted into the program we will work with you to understand your specific visa situation.

What are the basic education requirements?

​The fellowship is open to anyone who is currently enrolled in a Ph.D.* program, however, it is rare for pre-docs who are not in the final year of their program to be accepted.  We evaluate pre-docs in the same pool as the post-docs, so to be competitive, it is best to be as far along with your Ph.D. as possible. *Please note, CISAC accepts DPhil degrees as Ph.D. equivalents.

How do I know if my research topic is compatible with current areas of study at CISAC?

​Please review the CISAC website and the publications of current faculty and research staff. If you have further questions, please send an inquiry to

How do I determine what fellowship program to apply to/I am eligible for?

​If you are interested in a particular fellowship, you may indicate accordingly on your application. However, the CISAC fellowship selection committee will ensure that you are considered for every fellowship for which you are deemed eligible, regardless of whether you applied to that specific fellowship.

If I expect to have completed my Ph.D. degree by the time the fellowship begins, should I apply as a postdoctoral applicant?

Yes. However, please note that the offer, stipends, and title for the postdoctoral fellowship are contingent upon finishing the Ph.D. before you start the fellowship. The offer can be rescinded if the Ph.D. is not finished. If you expect to finish during the year, apply as a predoctoral fellow. Some fellowships allow for conversion to postdoctoral status if all requirements are met by December 1. Contact to see if it is permissible. 

Can I apply for a fellowship if I do not need funding? Do I receive special consideration if I do not need funding?

​Yes, you can. Non-stipendiary applicants are considered in the same pool as those requesting stipends.

May I apply for the fellowship if I have a mentor for my research project that is not affiliated with Stanford?

​Yes. However, should you be chosen, a Stanford/CISAC faculty mentor will be assigned to you as well.

Recommendation Letter Questions

How can my recommenders submit their recommendations using the SlideRoom system?

When prompted to, you (the applicant) should put in the name/email of all the recommenders you want to write you a letter. Recommenders will then receive an email with a unique link to submit their letter of recommendation for you (the applicant). Recommenders will receive email reminders to submit their recommendations online.

Can I submit my recommendation letters via Interfolio?

It is strongly preferred that individuals upload their recommendations through the online system (SlideRoom). However, if you must use Interfolio to submit your letters, email* all the letters to

*Note that SlideRoom will NOT accept any letters submitted via Interfolio so it is necessary that your email the letters to the above email address.

Can my recommender submit a letter via email?

A recommender should only submit a letter via email as the last resort. If a recommender is unable to upload their letter through SlideRoom, they* may email the letters (in PDF format) to with the following subject line: [Last name of applicant] LoR [Last name of recommender]

*We will not accept any emailed letters of recommendation if they are not emailed to us by the recommender (i.e. you, the applicant, may not email a letter of recommendation on behalf of the recommender). 

Are letters of recommendation confidential?

Yes. Applicants automatically waive the right to see letters of recommendation submitted for them.

What should I do if one of my recommenders cannot submit their letter by the application due date?

Recommenders have up to 5 days after the application deadline to submit their letters, make them aware that it is important that they submit their letter by then so that your application is considered complete.

How can I tell if a recommender has submitted my recommendation letter?

You can check the status of your letters of recommendation via Slideroom.

*** Due to the high volume of emails during the application season, we will NOT confirm receipt of the recommendation letters.

Application Essays/Prompt Questions

What are the differences between an abstract, a prospectus, and a writing sample?

Research Abstract: A brief summary of a project.

Prospectus: Discuss work that you would like to undertake at CISAC (if selected). If applicable, it can be an introduction or relevant portion of your dissertation.

Writing Sample: Demonstration of your writing and research skills. This work does not need to have been published.  If there is more than one author, the candidate should be the primary author.

General Application Questions

Do I need submit my Ph.D. transcripts?

All pre- and postdoctoral applicants must include a transcript. Junior faculty and professionals may include a transcript but are not required to do so.

The application form requires me to upload a transcript, but I am a junior faculty member or professional. What should I do?

Upload a document that states that "transcripts are not required for my fellowship level".

Do I need to submit official transcripts?

You may upload unofficial transcripts with your application. We may ask you to submit official transcripts later.

Do transcripts need to be translated into English?

Yes. All application documents must be in English.

May I submit a diploma in lieu of a transcript?

We strongly prefer transcripts. If they are not available, however, diplomas may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

I attend a university that does not issue transcripts to doctoral students. What should I do?

Please send a certificate from the school stating that you are a doctoral candidate.  A list of the courses which you have completed would be helpful, as well as a degree or transcript from your masters program.

General Fellowship Questions

How long is the fellowship?

Fellowships range from nine to twelve months, and in certain circumstances may be renewable.

How many fellowships are granted per year?

This number varies based on available funding and on the applicant pool. 

When can I expect to hear a decision about my application?

You will be notified mid-February.

Does CISAC award fellowships for studies to be conducted at other universities?


Does the fellowship come with a stipend, benefits, and housing?


  • CISAC predoctoral fellows receive stipends comparable to that awarded by the Stanford Graduate Fellowships program. The Center also pays non-matriculated student tuition for predoctoral fellows as required by Stanford University.
  • Postdoctoral fellows receive stipends commensurate with experience and with consideration given to Stanford established minimums
  • Junior faculty and professional stipends are commensurate with experience.

Benefits: Stanford University policy requires evidence of medical insurance. CISAC will provide coverage for fellows without personal coverage as follows:

  • Predoctoral fellows will be enrolled in Stanford's student medical insurance plan – Cardinal Care.
  • Postdoctoral fellows will attend a mandatory benefits orientation soon after they arrive on campus and are provided health benefits.
  • All fellows have the option of purchasing additional coverage for dependents.

Housing: Unfortunately, we cannot provide housing. We can, however, refer fellows to the housing information that Stanford provides.