PhD Fellowship

As a leading research center dedicated to developing and sharing knowledge that can create positive social change, Stanford PACS is committed to supporting and nurturing promising new scholars interested in topics broadly related to civil society. In this spirit, PACS provides yearlong fellowships to support the research of outstanding doctoral students. Founded in 2006, PACS has awarded fellowships to more than 75 graduate students across many disciplines and professional schools.

Meet our 2023-24 PhD Fellows here!


Second-year Stanford PhD students and beyond, at the 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. The project is often, but need not be, connected to a dissertation. We welcome proposals from the social sciences, the humanities, and social science-related professional schools including Business, Education, Engineering, Law, and Sustainability. We view applicants who have already participated in the yearlong PACS workshop favorably (EDUC 374, LAW 781, POLISCI 334, SOC 374, SUSTAIN 324). Repeat applicants are also accepted.

Research Topics

The PACS Center explores the role of civil society in a very broad sense, appreciating that civil society plays an expanding role in defining and addressing social problems in the U.S. and around the world. Some overarching themes include the vibrancy and role of civil society as a site for democratic deliberation and sustainability efforts; revisiting associational life in a digital era; and philanthropic trends and accountability. We welcome research across different methodological approaches, and across different geographic regions. The following are specific examples of topics supported by PACS:

• Challenges currently faced by democratic institutions and the role of associational life in authoritarian regimes

• The role of philanthropy in addressing public needs, and how elite philanthropy shapes and/or distorts democratic institutions

• Environmental and social impacts associated with energy development and public participation in environmental decision making

• Distributional politics of AIDS drugs in Africa and how NGO efforts affect the health delivery system

• Psychological mechanisms underlying political polarization, intergroup conflict, and attitude moralization

• New organizational forms: hybrids, B Corps, cooperatives, for-profits with a purported social mission; corporate social responsibility; impact investing

• New open models of public media and knowledge, ranging from journalism to encyclopedias to scientific production


The fellowship provides up to a full academic year of support (Fall, Winter, Spring quarters), including stipend, tuition, and health insurance.


Fellows participate in the signature research workshop at PACS that meets alternating weeks throughout the academic year. The workshop provides Fellows the opportunity to learn from others and to present their work in an interdisciplinary setting. The fellowship cohort will also have the opportunity to meet regularly with one another and the PACS Director of Research and Scholar Programs to further develop their intellectual and professional skills and community. PACS also offers several events with notable speakers throughout the year, which Fellows are encouraged to attend.

Application Requirements

Applications will be reviewed by our Faculty Directors, Executive Director and Director of Research and Scholar Programs, . Please provide the following information by completing this form, which includes: 

  • Research Project and Motivation: Description of the research project, and what you would hope to gain from the fellowship year with PACS (maximum length: 3 pages, single spaced)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Graduate Transcript from your Stanford doctoral program
  • Letter of Recommendation: Please select one faculty mentor who can speak to your skills, motivation, and research. Recommendation letters should be submitted separately here.

If you have any questions, please contact Karina Kloos: krkioos@stanford.edu.