Ph.D. Fellowships

Ph.D. Research Fellowships


Our next round of applications will be due on Friday April 3, 2015. 


Second year Stanford PhD students and beyond, pre-or post-dissertation proposal stage, are eligible. Students will be expected to begin the year with a well-defined research project to carry out during their fellowship year. We welcome proposals from the social sciences, the humanities, and professional schools.

Research Topics

The PACS Center understands the practice of philanthropy and the concept of civil society in a very broad sense. We welcome projects that specifically address questions of nonprofits or civil society organizations but also projects that more generally address questions about the role of the state or the marketplace in contrast to nonprofits, philanthropic foundations, or civil society.

Civil society plays a rapidly expanding role in addressing and defining social problems in the U.S. and the world. As one of the key participants in civil society, the philanthropic sector serves both as a critical supplier of resources for nonprofit institutions and as a catalyst for addressing public needs. Questions — and answers — about the changing roles of philanthropy and civil society are integral to a variety of disciplines and cover a wide range of topics.

The PACS Center encourages applications from students studying the institutions and activities that define civil society. Students may explore a range of themes dealing with, for instance, comparisons of public, private, and nonprofit mechanisms for delivering social services or public goods; the effects of different modes of financial support on nonprofit organizations; and the role of nongovernmental organizations in non-Western nations.

The following are some examples of past fellowship topics:

  • Donor agency support for education as a resource during conflict
  • The role of civil society as opposed to formal public institutions as a site for democratic deliberation
  • Can lab experiments with human subjects induce them to make charitable donations by priming them with various schemas that make salient the role of chance or fortune in life outcomes
  • Environmental and social impacts associated with energy development and public participation in environmental decision-making
  • The relationship between think tanks, charitable foundations, and democratic governance
  • Distributional politics of AIDS drugs in Africa and how NGO efforts affect the delivery system
  • Information networks as a tool for organizing social change among civil society organizations
  • The relationship between public schools and philanthropy and its impact on district accountability
  • Collaboration between for-profit organizations and philanthropic organizations that results in sustainable business practices


The fellowship provides up to a full academic year of support — 25% stipend and tuition, and health insurance — for PhD students. We will offer up to five fellowships in 2015-2016. Please note the fellowship does not support travel or data collection.


All fellows are expected to be in residence during the full term of their fellowship, participate in a year-long research workshop that meets alternating weeks throughout the school year, and attend other PACS events throughout the year. Fellowship recipients will also be expected to complete a writing project during their fellowship year, and aim to turn that work into scholarly articles for academic journals within two years of receipt of the fellowship.

Application Requirements

Applications will be reviewed by members of our Faculty Steering Committee and by our Faculty Directors and Executive Director. Please follow the following steps to submit your application:

  1. Curriculum Vitae: Email pdf curriculum vitae to
  2. Research Project: Email description of research project (maximum length: 5 pages) to
  3. Graduate Transcript: Submit your transcript online (through Axess) and have it sent to (Guide to submitting transcripts through Axess)
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation: Recommenders may provide a letter in pdf format to

For applications to be considered each of the above pieces must be received by the above stated deadline.

If you have questions please contact Kim Meredith, Executive Director at