College of Liberal Arts


Program Information                                          


Qualifications & Eligibility




The Engaged Scholar Initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to provide specialized training and research skills to UT Austin doctoral students in the humanities. The purpose of the initiative is to allow these students to re-conceptualize both the content and form of their dissertations. At the core of the program is the expansion of the research domain of the humanities to problems and genres of presentation not traditionally explored in doctoral humanities research. The initiative, with a collaborative environment at the base of its structural framework, has three elements: specialized training of doctoral students, the expansion and completion of a dissertation project, and a post-doctoral fellowship year.

Research Environment
Doctoral students in the humanities will acquire systematic interdisciplinary training beyond their specific area of interest, and work within collaborative clusters involving faculty, doctoral students, undergraduate students, and, where applicable, representatives of regional public agencies or private organizations (NGOs, non-profits, and others). Students should be prepared to spend part of their summers engaged in workshops and seminars that advance their skills in areas not normally provided through their departmental course work.

Dissertation Projects
The dissertation project will allow for co-authored work with clear delineations of individual responsibilities, as well as more traditional individual projects that grow out of the research interest of the student and the work of a cluster. The project may take the form of a set of original articles, a position paper, an exhibition, a comprehensive curriculum, a plan for action submitted to an agency, and the like. It will maintain the highest standards of scholarship associated with a tier-one institution, capitalize on the resources that are present in our flagship university, and encourage engagement in topics that are of strong social, national, or regional import.

Post-doctoral Support
Following completion of the dissertation and conferral of the doctorate, participants will receive a year-long internal post-doctoral fellowship that will allow for final-product revisions, and, where applicable, the individualization of co-authored projects by fellows who seek a tenure-track position that involves the expectation of a dissertation in the traditional style.

Qualifications & Eligibility

The Engaged Scholar Initiative is open to doctoral students in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin who are pursuing a degree in a humanities discipline.

Students are expected to complete their studies and dissertation project in five years from the first semester of enrollment in their PhD program.

Students begin the Engaged Scholar Initiative during the summer of the third year in their PhD program, and are expected to be in ABD status no later than June 1 of that year.

Competitive candidates must demonstrate:

  • Sustained writing skills and abilities
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Good time management
  • Commitment to working collaboratively and in teams

Candidates should also demonstrate some combination of the following:

  • An interest in alternative research projects and/or training-related careers
  • An interest in public scholarship or research that engages social issues broadly defined
  • Some experience with community engagement
  • Some experience with inclusive pedagogy and team-based learning
  • An interest in disciplinary training outside the traditional framework of the humanities i.e., computer programming, archival skills, or organizational studies


Support is contingent upon satisfactory progress, evaluated in the late summer of each year. Students may not hold concurrent academic appointments or outside work while receiving fellowship funds (years 3 and 4).

- Spring: Selection of Mellon fellows
- Summer: $5,000 supplement

- September – August: $1,000 as research support (reimbursement of conference registration, travel, etc.)
- Summer: $5,000 supplement

- September – May: $39,000 fellowship and student health insurance allowance (approximately $2,200); the College of Liberal Arts will support 9 hours of tuition each long semester
- September – August: $1,000 as research support (reimbursement of conference registration, travel, etc.)
- Summer: $5,000 supplement

- September – August: $54,000 postdoctoral fellowship (plus fringe benefits)


ESI Fellowship Contract – Graduate
ESI Reimbursement Guidelines
ESI Travel Reimbursement Form