Graduate Fellowships

To ensure that progress in teaching and research in ethics will continue into the future, the Center trains younger scholars who are prepared to dedicate their careers to the study of practical ethics in a wide variety of subjects. The Graduate Fellowships in Ethics were established in 1990 with the support of the American Express Foundation, and subsequent gifts from Mrs. Lily Safra and Mr. Eugene P. Beard. This early expansion of the Center's mission provided a unique opportunity for graduate students writing dissertations or engaged in major research on topics in practical ethics. More than one hundred Graduate Fellowships have been awarded to Harvard-enrolled graduate and professional students.

In 2010, a generous gift from Mrs. Lily Safra endowed the Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellowships in perpetuity, ensuring that the Center's role in training younger scholars and developing future leaders in ethics will continue as long as Harvard endures.

The Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellowship program is directed by Professor Eric Beerbohm.


The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics encourages teaching and research about ethical issues in the professions and public life. Its Graduate Fellowships support outstanding Harvard graduate and professional students who are writing dissertations or are engaged in major research on topics in practical ethics, especially ethical issues in areas such as architecture, business, education, government, law, medicine, public health, public policy, and religion.


Graduate Fellows are expected to devote their time to an approved course of research and study and to participate in a weekly Center seminar, where they read works in moral and political philosophy and discuss research problems and strategies common to the study of practical and professional ethics. In addition, Graduate Fellows are expected to take part in the wider intellectual life of the Center.


Students should either be enrolled in a Harvard doctoral program; enrolled in or a recent graduate of a Harvard professional degree program that does not require a doctoral dissertation for an academic career (such as law or medicine); or a current Harvard affiliate who is engaged in postgraduate training or in appropriate graduate training at another school and has no academic or professional commitments in 2017-2018. All course requirements and general examinations must be completed before the start of the fellowship year. Students taking a full or partial course load in either semester of the fellowship year are ineligible. The Center seeks applicants who have excelled in their fields of specialization, have demonstrated an interest in questions of value that cut across disciplinary boundaries, and who are likely to make significant contributions to teaching and scholarship in practical and professional ethics. Some successful applicants will have a strong background in moral philosophy or political thought; others will be grounded in fields of public policy or professional practice.


Graduate Fellows receive a stipend of up to $27,000 for one academic year, which varies depending on individual circumstances. They are provided with a study space, access to a computer and printer, and a modest allowance for research, copying, and office supplies. Graduate Fellowships are announced in mid-February for the upcoming academic year.

How to apply

Please submit the following materials as a single PDF file:

  • Application cover sheet
  • Statement describing your interest in practical and professional ethics and plans for a dissertation or research project (no more than 2,000 words)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Unofficial undergraduate and graduate transcripts (accepted applicants will be required to furnish official transcripts)
  • Scholarly paper you have written

In addition, applicants should arrange for two letters of reference to be sent by email.

Hard copy materials will not be accepted.

Recommendations and completed applications should be emailed to:

Graduate Fellowships Coordinator

The application deadline for Graduate Fellowships beginning in September 2017 is November 15, 2016.
 Decisions will be sent by February 16, 2017.

Questions may be directed to