Undergraduate Fellowships

Applications for Spring 2021 Are Now Closed


The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics (EJSCE) Undergraduate Fellowship Program welcomes applications from Harvard College sophomores and juniors from any concentration who are pursuing research and writing with an ethics dimension, and who wish to develop their talents in modes of inquiry that are essential to tackling critical moral issues in public life. Established in the spring of 2013, the Program invites about twelve fellows each year to join the EJSCE’s university-wide community of faculty and scholars from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and the professional schools.


The Undergraduate Fellowship program seeks to provide students with the opportunity to engage in an informed analysis of values in their own areas of inquiry that will lead to the completion of a senior thesis. In pursuit of this goal, Undergraduate Fellows complete an ethics seminar with the director of the program, participate in an ongoing ethics research workshop, and attend lectures and dinners hosted by the Center. In addition, Undergraduate Fellows are offered a wide range of opportunities to interact with faculty, fellows, and graduate students affiliated with the Center. 


Spring Semester 2021: Undergraduate Fellows will enroll in the interdisciplinary seminar with Professor Arthur Applbaum, Government 94saf: Safra Undergraduate Ethics Fellowship Seminar, which will meet in the Spring of 2021 on Thursdays from 3 to 5:45 pm. Undergraduate Fellows also will attend the annual Lester Kissel Lecture and Workshop and at least one other lecture sponsored by the Center.  

Fall Semester 2021 and 2022: To help prepare for their senior theses, Undergraduate Fellows will participate in an informal semester-long weekly research workshop in the fall of each year that they remain at Harvard. The research workshop will include discussions of assigned readings, presentations of the students’ own work, and reflections on the Center’s distinguished lecture series. While the workshop is typically held on Monday afternoons from 4 – 6 pm, a final time will be set closer to the start of the semester.  

Spring Semester, Senior Year: Undergraduate Fellows will submit to their respective departments a senior thesis on an approved topic that has a normative dimension.   

A suggested timeline for undergraduate fellowships can be found here.


Students in the fall of their sophomore or junior year are invited to apply. Successful applicants will normally have taken at least two courses in ethics, moral or political philosophy, or political theory.

NOTE: Undergraduates who are currently on leave are welcome to apply to the fellowship. If you are awarded a fellowship beginning in Spring 2021 but do not re-enroll for that semester, we cannot guarantee you a deferral, but you will be given priority consideration for the next fellowship class. On your return you will need to update your application, providing us with a current unofficial transcript and a brief description of your activities while on leave,


Undergraduate Fellows receive a one-time book fund of $500 and may apply for summer funding through the Lester Kissel Grants in Practical Ethics. These grants support research and writing that make contributions to the understanding of practical ethics, and normally will be awarded in the summer prior to the student’s senior year.    

How to Apply for a fellowship beginning in the Spring of 2021

1. Complete and submit an online application form.
2. As part of this web application form, upload .pdf versions of the following documents:

(a) One-page statement describing your interest in ethics and purpose in applying for the fellowship program;
(b) Paper or writing sample from a course in ethics, philosophy, or political theory;    
(c) Curriculum Vitae;
(d) Unofficial transcript (fellowship recipients will be required to furnish an official transcript)