The Jefferson Scholars Foundation encourages applicants from a broad range of GSAS disciplines. The strongest applicants will be those who have exhibited a capacity for the highest levels of scholastic achievement, who have (or will have) advanced to candidacy within the standard timeline outlined by their home department, and who are prepared to pursue ambitious dissertation projects that have the potential to transform their disciplines. Successful applicants will also demonstrate a commitment to sharing their knowledge discovery with a broader audience through achievements in teaching and academic outreach.


An applicant must be a Ph.D. candidate in a Graduate School of Arts & Sciences department who has advanced to doctoral candidacy during the current academic year of 2019-20, or who has a faculty-endorsed plan for achieving candidacy prior to the Fellowship period.

Jefferson Fellows who are awarded other general fellowship support may combine that award with the Jefferson Fellowship or defer the Jefferson Fellowship for one year as outlined in the Graduate School’s policy on external awards.  

Jefferson Fellows are expected to participate actively in the Jefferson Scholars Foundation community by attending Foundation events and programs when possible. Throughout the year a variety of academic and intellectual programming occurs at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, including lectures, academic conferences, film screenings, and social gatherings.


The application consists of the following materials and must conform with the stated page limits:

  • Applicant information sheet
  • CV (recommended maximum of two pages)
  • Transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation (one letter must be from the primary dissertation advisor; one of the letters should address, at least in part, the applicant’s performance as a teacher)
  • DGS certification of advancement to candidacy or feasibility of the candidacy plan
  • Statement of teaching philosophy and vision for pursuing leadership and academic outreach in the field (maximum of two double-spaced pages)
  • Statement of research topic and academic plan for the initial fellowship year (maximum of twelve double-spaced pages; a draft prospectus may be appropriate)


Applications for the 2020-21 academic year will open on December 1, 2019. All application materials must be received by February 1, 2020. No application will be read until all materials have been received, including letters of recommendation. All applications must be submitted via the Jefferson Scholars Foundation website. If you intend to apply for the Jefferson Fellowship, it is strongly encouraged that you indicate your intent on the application portal by December 13 in order to confirm your eligibility (application portal will open on December 1).

If you have questions about the Jefferson Fellowship Program, please e-mail


Applications will be reviewed by a committee of subject matter experts in a variety of fields. A select group of applicants will be designated as finalists in the competition and invited to participate in a presentation and interview at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation in early April. The results of the competition will be announced shortly after the interviews.

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The Jefferson Scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship at the University of Virginia. Scholars are selected through a rigorous selection process that is based on exceptional performance in the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.

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The Jefferson Fellowship is the premier graduate fellowship offered at the University of Virginia. Based solely on merit, the Fellowship seeks to attract Ph.D. and M.B.A. candidates.

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