Fellowship Application Basics

Photo by Jeff DelViscio

The Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program at MIT supports a global community of dedicated and thoughtful journalists specializing in science, health, technology and environmental reporting. The program is designed to recognize journalists who demonstrate a high level of professional excellence and accomplishment as well as a long-term commitment to their craft. Journalists from all countries compete on an equal basis and are encouraged to apply. Applications for the 2020-21 fellowship class will be accepted until January 15th, 2020. Applicants may begin submitting their materials through our online portal beginning November 15th, 2019.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a Knight Fellowship, applicants must:

  • Be full-time journalists, whether on staff or freelance. Part-time writers or producers are not eligible.
  • Have at least three full years of experience covering science, technology, the environment, or medicine.
  • Be reporters, writers, editors, producers, illustrators, filmmakers, or photojournalists. This includes work for newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and digital media.

Required Documents

The following documents are required for 9-Month Fellowship applications:

  • Professional Autobiography: Describe, in 500 words or less, why you want to participate in the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program and how it fits with your professional goals.
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae: Provide a brief overview of your education and work history. (Freelancers should include a list of freelance jobs completed in the past 12 months. Include each story, venue, and date of publication or broadcast.)
  • Research Project Proposal: Describe, in 500 words or less, a project you intend to develop during the fellowship year. The goal is for fellows to create something that uniquely leverages their time and experiences at MIT, using the resources and connections available to them while they are here. Some element of the research project must be journalistic in nature, but it can expand beyond traditional parameters and be created in any format: long-form, story series, multimedia, video, audio, installation, etc. Fellows deliver formal presentations about their projects at the end of the academic year and are expected to successfully pitch a component for publication within the fellowship year or shortly thereafter.
  • Work samples: Please provide five relevant work samples. Choose samples that best illustrate your interest and abilities. Please include a translation for any work not produced in English.
  • Professional references: Please provide three letters of recommendation. Letters should come from individuals familiar with your work and should comment on your abilities and your commitment to journalism.

Stipulations

Applicants selected for a Knight Science Journalism fellowship must agree to the following requirements:

  • Reside full-time in the Boston/Cambridge area for the MIT academic year, August 15th, 2020 through May 31st, 2021.
  • Attend field trips, seminars, and required training sessions arranged by the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program.
  • Develop a course of study that includes at least one science course per semester.
  • Refrain from outside professional work during the Fellowship, unless written permission has been granted by the director.
  • Produce a well-thought-out research project during the academic year. The research project may be a book proposal, but fellows may not sell the proposal during the fellowship year, nor may they arrive with a contract to write a book during the fellowship year.

International candidates who are selected for the fellowship must obtain a valid visa from the U.S. State Department; the visa is normally sponsored by MIT. A language proficiency test (such as TOEFL) may be required as part of the visa process.

Application Process

Complete applications must be submitted between November 15, 2019 and January 15, 2020. References are strongly encouraged to meet this deadline, but they are given a grace period until January 22nd to upload their recommendation letters. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

All applicants will be notified of their status in early March. Video Skype interviews will be scheduled for 25 semi-finalists selected for further consideration. Applications and video interviews will be reviewed by a panel of distinguished science journalists, including Director Deborah Blum, Associate Director Ashley Smart, and Undark Chief Editor, Tom Zeller Jr. The 10 recipients of the 2020-2021 Knight fellowships will be formally announced in April.

For further questions, please contact Bettina Urcuioli at bma@mit.edu.