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Photo: Stefan Müller
Photo: Stefan Müller

The Berlin Prize Application

The American Academy in Berlin is now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Berlin Prize. The deadline for applications is Friday, September 25, 2020, at 6 p.m. EST. 

Each year, the American Academy in Berlin welcomes around twenty fellows, who support our mission to enrich transatlantic dialogue in the arts, humanities, and public policy through the development and communication of projects of the highest scholarly merit. Past recipients have included anthropologists, art historians, literary scholars, philosophers, historians, musicologists, journalists, writers, filmmakers, sociologists, legal scholars, diplomats, economists, and public policy experts, among others.

For all projects, the Academy asks that candidates explain the relevance of a stay in Berlin to the development of their work.

Please note that artists, composers, and poets are invitation-only competitions.

Following a peer-reviewed evaluation process, an independent Selection Committee reviews finalist applications. All candidates will be notified in March 2021.

General Fellowship FAQs

Most of our spring 2020 fellows (and their families) decided to stay at the Academy through the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, which gave us the opportunity to develop and implement a variety of safety measures for both fellows and staff. We also moved our fellows’ events to online formats, and continue to observe social distancing and masking measures in the Hans Arnhold Center. We plan to move forward with the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters in ways both safe and appropriate, as determined by German public health authorities. For the 2021/22 academic year, we are hopeful that in-person programming will again be possible and safe.

The American Academy in Berlin is a private, independent, nonprofit institute for advanced study located in Berlin, Germany. Its fellowship program promotes advanced research in a variety of disciplines.

Each year the Academy welcomes about twenty fellows to the Hans Arnhold Center, on Lake Wannsee. The Academy also invites a small number of invited Distinguished Visitors for shorter stays of one to four weeks, and organizes a diverse public program that includes lectures and presentations by resident fellows, Distinguished Visitors, and guest speakers.  You can find a list of past fellows and distinguished visitors on our website.

In addition to placing a high priority on the independent work of its fellows, the Academy is in a unique position to aid fellows in establishing professional networks, both in Berlin and beyond. The Academy’s public atmosphere, which actively encourages fellows to introduce their work to wider audiences, serves its mission of fostering transatlantic ties through cultural exchange.

Fellowship benefits include round-trip airfare, housing at the Hans Arnhold Center, partial board, and a stipend of $5,000 per month. Fellows are expected to be in residence at the Academy during the entire term of the award, generally one academic semester, and to offer two public events about their work. The Academy supports the projects of the Berlin Prize fellows in a variety of ways, from building a strong interdisciplinary community and active networking, to an excellent library service.

Fellows may receive their stipend directly or through their home institution. The Academy does not withhold taxes, but stipends are taxable. Please note that overhead/indirect costs are not built into the stipend amounts awarded to the fellows. The Berlin Prize fellowship does not allow for institutional overhead.

Academy fellows are established and emerging scholars, writers, and professionals who wish to engage in independent study. Emerging scholars should have a strong record of peer-reviewed work beyond the dissertation. Projects that have not significantly advanced beyond the dissertation project will not be considered. Independent scholars are welcome to apply if they meet the general eligibility requirements.

Applicants working in most other fieldssuch as journalism, filmmaking, or public policymust have a significant record of publication or production. Writers of fiction and nonfiction must have published at least one book at the time of application.

Berlin Prizes have been awarded to historians, economists, filmmakers, art historians, journalists, legal scholars, musicologists, public-policy experts, former government officials, NGO leaders, and writers, among others.

Candidates should explain how their projects will benefit from a residency in Berlin, but they need not be working on German topics.

Fellowships are restricted to candidates based permanently in the United States. Limited periods spent outside the US, such as sabbaticals or foreign assignments, must be explained on the application. US citizenship is not required. American expatriates are not eligible.

The Academy also accepts applications based on collaborative projects. Candidates must submit separate applications. External reviews will consider the merits of the project as well as the individual candidates.

Candidates from previous years are eligible to reapply but are strongly encouraged to revise their project proposals substantially and otherwise update their application materials. A number of Academy fellows have applied one or more times before their selection.

While the American Academy hosts composers, artists, and poets, candidates in these areas are chosen by nomination only.

Private furnished apartments, equipped with small kitchens, are provided at or near the Hans Arnhold Center, a historic villa on the shores of Lake Wannsee. The Wannsee train station (a stop for S-Bahn and regional trains) is less than a ten-minute walk away. Trains reach downtown Berlin in ten to twenty minutes.

Berlin Prize winners are typically in residence for a full academic semester. The fall semester begins in mid-August and ends in mid-December; the spring semester is from late January through late May. Fellowships are occasionally awarded for an academic year. You will be asked to indicate your preferred semester on the application.

Most of the Academy’s accommodations are suitable for couples. We also offer accommodations for a limited number of families with children at the Hans Arnhold Center and at apartments nearby. If the selection committee awards you a fellowship, and appropriate family housing is not available during your preferred semester, the Academy will try to accommodate you during a future semester.

Please note that pets are not permitted at the Hans Arnhold Center.

Fellowship Application FAQs

The application deadline is Friday, September 25, 2020, at 6 p.m. EST.

Fellowship candidates will be asked to complete the online application form and to upload the following documents (as PDFs):

  • project proposal of 1500 to 1750 words, plus a short bibliography (circa one page)
  • curriculum vitae (up to 10 pages)
  • two writing samples with a combined total not to exceed 60 pages (in English)

Applicants will also be asked to provide names and contact information for three references (see below).

We use SlideRoom for our online application. SlideRoom provides resources for applicants here. When the online application system opens, candidates will first need to create a login and password. Once you are logged into the system, the online application consists of three sections: forms, attachments, and references. It is possible to log out of your application and log back in later; your information will be saved for your next session. Required fields in the various forms are marked with an asterisk. Once you have gathered the necessary information and prepared your supporting materials, the application should take about 20 minutes to complete.

If you wish to send your application as a hard copy, please write to cs@americanacademy.de and explain why you cannot use the online portal. We do not accept applications by fax or as email attachments.

We require three letters of reference. Using the online application system, you will enter the contact information of your references and send them official requests to submit letters. They will then receive an email with instructions for how to upload their letters to a portal by Friday, October 2, 2020 (one week after the application deadline).

Applicants may use reference letters from a dossier service (such as Interfolio) to apply for a Berlin Prize. You will fill out the recommender invitation as requested, but in place of the recommender’s email address, you will enter the Interfolio (or other dossier service) assigned email that corresponds to each reference letter.

Individuals writing on your behalf should be familiar with your work, particularly your proposal, and be able to comment on your abilities and career. Please have your references provide letters in English, so that the peer reviewers and selection committee members can read your complete application materials. Make sure to secure permission from each person you list as a reference before sending your request to them via the online application system.

References are due on October 2, 2020. The Academy will not contact candidates about the status of their letters; they are responsible for tracking their letters in their online application.

All candidates will be notified in March 2021.

No. There is also no need to indicate your interest in a specially designated fellowship in the online application, as the entire applicant pool will be considered. Projects that address migration, social integration, race, exile and return, and major global issues are also generally welcome.

Contact Fellows Selection

Carol Scherer

Manager, Fellows Selection

T: +49-30-80483 106
F: +49-30-80483 111

cs@americanacademy.de

Emma Lo

Coordinator, Fellows Selection & Alumni Relations

T: +49-30-80483 153
F: +49-30-80483 111

el@americanacademy.de

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