Wadsworth African Fellowship

  • Doctoral Students


Wadsworth African Fellowships provide funding for African students pursuing a PhD or equivalent doctoral degree at South African universities where they can receive international-level training in anthropology, including archaeology and biological anthropology.

Award Money

The $20,000 annual fellowship can be used toward travel, living expenses, tuition, income taxes, student fees, insurance, books, research costs, and any other relevant expenditures incurred in the course of the doctoral program. Fellows may renew the award for up to two additional years upon successful completion of each preceding year of training. They can apply separately for an additional year of support for dissertation write-up. Wenner-Gren awards do not include funds to cover institutional overhead or any fees related to the administration of our grants and fellowships.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is December 15 for fellowships beginning in the following academic year. The online portal is opened on November 1st. We arrive at a final decision by January 15.

Who Can Apply

Doctoral Students

This program is intended for African scholars who may not otherwise be able to pursue a doctoral degree in anthropology. They must be citizens and residents of an African country at the time of application. They must also be members of an underrepresented group in academic anthropology and archaeology.

At the time they apply for the fellowship, candidates must have an application for doctoral admission pending at a South African university. Applicants may have already begun their doctoral studies at their chosen institution, but they must demonstrate why their circumstances have changed and why they no longer have sufficient funding to complete their degree. Students who have advanced beyond their first year of doctoral training are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must be prepared to explain their reasons for choosing their host institution (the university where they plan to study). To date, Fellows have studied at the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Cape Town. The applicant must also have a host sponsor, or supervisor, who is a member of the South African university where the candidate plans to pursue training. The host sponsor, who must be willing to assume responsibility for overseeing the candidate’s training, cannot sponsor more than one active Wadsworth African Fellow per funding season.

The applicant must also have a home sponsor who is a member of the institution at which the applicant received a prior degree. In some cases, the host institution will be the same institution where the applicant studied previously. If this situation applies, the applicant should ask someone other than the host sponsor to serve as the home sponsor. This might be the head of a relevant department or another member of the academic staff who can write or speak on the applicant’s behalf.

Applicants may submit only one application per funding season. They may not apply through two or more departments or host institutions at the same time. If the Foundation receives more than one application from a single South African department, the Foundation will contact that department to have them prioritize their applicants for potential funding.

Applicants should show that they have sufficient funds in addition to the Wadsworth African Fellowship to complete their training at the host institution. Applicants exclusively seeking fieldwork or dissertation write-up support are not eligible to apply. Fellows are encouraged to seek outside funding to support dissertation research. Although Wadsworth Fellows are eligible to apply for the Foundation’s Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, funding is not guaranteed. After completing their dissertation research, Wadsworth Fellows are also eligible to apply for dissertation write-up support.

Unless they officially withdraw from the program—or fail to comply with the conditions of the award—Fellows are considered active until they have completed their thesis and are awarded a degree.

The Foundation is looking for talented African scholars who might not otherwise be able to pursue a doctoral degree. We are eager to support students with the potential to advance anthropology in their home countries and globally.

Successful applicants provide strong evidence of academic excellence in their prior training in anthropology or a related discipline. They have well-developed training and research goals and can show that both their host institution and host sponsor are good fits to help them reach those goals.

The Foundation pays close attention to letters of support from both the home and host sponsors. We strongly encourage applicants to make personal contact with their host sponsor prior to applying for the fellowship; a successful applicants work closely with the host sponsor to map out a course of training leading to the doctoral degree. Letters of support should address whether the candidate has the support they need to complete all program requirements within the 3 years of Wadsworth funding and successfully complete their degree.

Successful applicants are able to show how the program they have chosen aligns with the Foundation’s mission to advance anthropological knowledge, amplify its impact, foster inclusivity, and address the precarity of anthropology as a career and a field of study. Applicants interested in policy-making, public health, environmental sustainability, primate conservation, heritage management, or salvage work on endangered languages must make a strong case for how their work will further anthropological conversations.

The Foundation awards one Wadsworth African Fellowship annually. To present yourself in the best possible light, please follow all instructions for completing your application. Use all the available space to make your case. If you have questions, contact us at applications@wennergren.org or (+1) 212.683.5000.

The application asks for the following:

  • General information about you, the home institution and sponsor, and the host institution and sponsor
  • Answers to three questions about your background and your proposed plan of study, your research interests, and your professional goals or plans
  • A detailed budget
  • Copies of official transcripts from your home institution; please provide a translation if they are not in English
  • Where applicable, evidence of your fluency in the language of the institution at which you will be pursuing training
  • Curricula vitae for the applicant and host sponsor.
  • In addition to your application, you will need to request letters of support from both the home sponsor and the host sponsor, to be sent directly to sent directly to internationalprograms@wennergren.org by the application deadline. Please share these guidelines with your home sponsor and host sponsor so they include the information we need.

Host sponsor guidelines can be downloaded here.

Home sponsor guidelines can be downloaded here.

Applications must be in English. Applicants must submit all forms and other required materials online by December 15. If you don’t have adequate internet access to use our system, please contact us at least 1 week before the deadline and we’ll help arrange an alternative method. The online portal is opened on November 1st. In addition to your application, you will need to request letters of support from both the home sponsor and the host sponsor, to be sent directly to the Foundation by the application deadline.

Please do not send any other material, such as letters of reference, computer disks, manuscripts, publications, photographs, or recordings to the Foundation in support of your application. This material will not be used in the review process and cannot be returned.

You may access the application portal here.