The 9-Month Fellowship

Kolawole Talabi, of the Class of 2017-18, on the fellows’ annual visit to the MIT Museum.

Update: Given the many uncertainties, logistical questions, and possible risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Knight Science Journalism Program has made the difficult decision to defer its traditional academic-year fellowship program for one year, meaning that our next in-Cambridge fellowship program will commence in the 2021-22 academic year. In the interim, we will be opening an application process to select up to 20 remote Project Fellows for the 2020-21 academic year. Learn more at our Project Fellowships page.

Every year, the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT offers academic-year fellowships to 10 science journalists, to give them an opportunity to explore science, technology, and the craft of journalism; to concentrate on a specialty in science; and to learn at some of the top research universities in the world.

Each fellow largely designs his or her own course of study, in consultation with the director and Knight Science Journalism Program staff. Fellows are required to audit at least one science course per semester but are otherwise encouraged to explore the wide range of offerings at  MIT, Harvard, and other institutions in Cambridge and Greater Boston. The program is designed to offer a rich and varied mix of coursework, colloquia, research trips, lab visits, interviews, reading, and writing.

Fellows are required to complete a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research project during the academic 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. The project may serve as the basis of a future story or the foundation of a book proposal, or it may simply be a detailed report on an area of science. All fellows give a formal presentation on their projects at the conclusion of the fellowship year.

Fellows are required to reside full-time in the Boston/Cambridge area for the MIT academic year, from mid-August to late May. Fellows receive a $70,000 stipend, a $2,500 relocation allowance, and other benefits, including basic health insurance for each fellow and their family. Under the terms of MIT residency, fellows must refrain from paid professional work during the course of the 9-month program, unless written permission has been granted by the director.

The fellowship program is divided between activities arranged by the Knight Science Journalism staff and self-directed activities. The program also organizes social activities — from welcome parties to holiday celebrations — to help build a sense of community. Fellows often report that life in Cambridge and the sense of collegiality within the Fellowship are among the most rewarding aspects of the year.

Among the many Knight Fellowship programs and activities:

• Seminars: Fellows meet regularly for seminars with top researchers and media professionals.

• Field Trips: The program organizes several trips each year to locations of special interest to science and technology writers. Past destinations have included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME, and the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA.

• Digital Media Training: The number of storytelling channels open to journalists is multiplying, and we want our Fellows to return to the workforce with more technical skills than they had coming in. We offer workshops in various technologies, including mobile video, still photography, digital editing, data journalism, and podcasting.

For information on applying to the 9-month program, please visit our application and eligibility page.