Fellowship Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements

Fellowship applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence. To be eligible to apply for a fellowship, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be a teacher, or plan to become a teacher, of American history, American government, or social studies at the secondary school level (grades 7–12).
  • Possess a bachelor's degree or plan to receive a bachelor's degree no later than August 31 of the year in which you are applying.

Professional Teaching Obligation

After receiving the master's degree, each Fellow must teach American history, American government, or social studies in grades 7–12 for one full year for each academic year of funding received under a fellowship, preferably in the state from which the recipient won the fellowship.

This was a life-changing experience and my teaching will never be the same—it will be better.

— Lisa Dishongh, Fellow from Texas

Financial Aspects of the Award

The maximum amount of each award is $24,000, prorated over the period of study, and in no case shall the award exceed $12,000 for one academic year of study. Normally, Fellows receive less than these maximum amounts. Payments are made only for the actual costs of tuition, required fees, and books (as well as room and board if required to live away from your principal residence), and are made only for the minimum number of credits required for the award of the degree for which a Fellow is registered.

Failure to complete the study for which the fellowship is awarded, to attend the Summer Institute on the Constitution, or to teach a qualifying subject in grades 7–12 for the requisite amount of time entailed by the award will result in forfeiture of the fellowship and require the return of all funds paid under the fellowship, plus applicable interest under federal law.

Types of Fellowships

The Foundation offers two types of fellowships:

  • Junior Fellowships are awarded to outstanding college seniors and college graduates without teaching experience who intend to become secondary school teachers of American history, American government, or social studies in grades 7–12. Junior Fellows are expected to complete graduate study within 2 academic years of full-time study.
  • Senior Fellowships are awarded to outstanding current teachers who are required to complete graduate study within 5 calendar years of part-time study.

Choice of Graduate School and Degree

The fellowships are intended exclusively for graduate study leading to a master's degree. James Madison Fellows may attend any accredited institution of higher education in the United States. Each Fellow will be expected to pursue and complete a master's degree in one of the following (listed in order of the Foundation's preference):

  • Master of Arts (MA) in American history, political science, or government
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) concentrating on either American Constitutional history (in a history department) or American government, political institutions, and political theory (in a political science department). MAT degrees without required constitutional coursework cannot be approved.
  • Master of Education (MEd) or the Master of Arts or Master of Science in Education with a concentration in American history or American government, political institutions, and political theory

Constitutional Coursework

The Fellow's proposed plan of graduate study should contain substantial constitutional coursework. Fellows are encouraged to choose institutions that offer courses that closely examine the origins and development of the U.S. Constitution, the evolution of political theory and constitutional law, the effects of the Constitution on society and culture in the United States, or other such topics directly related to the Constitution.

Whatever institution and whichever degree a Fellow selects, at least 12 semester credits (or 18 quarter credits) of constitutional study must be part of the Fellow's program. Six of these semester credits are earned by the Fellow at the Foundation's Summer Institute on the Constitution in Washington, D.C.

I thank the Madison Foundation for carrying on the Constitution’s spirit … as I and other Fellows pass the torch to the next generation of Americans in our classrooms.

— Sam Tombarelli, Fellow from New Hampshire

Foundation's Summer Institute on the Constitution

A major component of the James Madison Fellowship Program is successful completion of the four-week Summer Institute on the Constitution, "The Foundations of American Constitutionalism," held in Washington, D.C. Fellows attend the Institute after they have matriculated in a graduate program and commenced coursework.

The academic focus of the Institute is a graduate course entitled "The Foundations of American Constitutionalism." Taught by constitutional scholars, this course is a study of the principles, framing, ratification, and implementation of constitutional government in the United States.

Photo of fellows

A feature of the Institute is the occasional trips to sites associated with the Constitution, in and around Washington.

One of the informal benefits of attending the Institute is the opportunity for interaction with a wide range of individuals whose varied interests can lead to enduring friendships and professional associations.

Expenses for the Summer Institute are included in the fellowship.


Thomas Ng
New Jersey Fellow

Thomas Ng

Tom earned an MS in Education and Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches at Uncommon Charter High School in Brooklyn, NY.

"Being a Madison Fellow has been the most meaningful professional development experience of my career. Spending time during the Annual Summer Institute at Georgetown University with a selective group of history educators from around the country provided a unique space to learn about the Constitution and American history, as well as the characteristics of an effective social studies educator. On top of that, it was just fun to make memories with a group of dedicated, creative, and passionate people in a city full of history itself. Reflecting on the experience, I can see the impact the Summer Institute has had on my pedagogy, my understanding of our government, and my efforts to leverage professional communities of educators. I still keep in touch with other Madison Fellows as we continue to improve and refine our instructional practices."

Sara Ziemnik
Ohio Fellow

Sara Ziemnik

Sara earned an MA in History at Cleveland State University. She teaches at Rocky River High School in Rocky River, OH.

"The James Madison Fellowship opened doors in my career that I never even dreamed of as an undergraduate. The Summer Institute at Georgetown was an opportunity that can't be matched: studying the Constitution with renowned scholars, meeting a Supreme Court Justice and members of Congress, and experiencing the rich history of the capital were unforgettable. The friendships and professional connections I've made and nurtured through my Madison Fellowship are just as phenomenal, and my Fellowship has opened doors to me through professional conferences and seminars. The James Madison Foundation will elevate your scholarship and career to a level that will invigorate your teaching and learning for years to come."

Juan (Jon) Resendez
California Fellow

Juan (Jon) Resendez

Jon earned an MA in Political Science at California State University-Fullerton. He teaches at Irvine High School in Irvine, CA.

"Receiving the James Madison Memorial Fellowship gave me the confidence to take greater intellectual and pedagogical risks in every aspect of my professional life. The risk-taking helped me to become a curricular leader in my school district and broadened my view of what my students are capable of achieving. The Fellowship facilitated my development as a divergent thinker in education and instilled in me a depth of knowledge which heightens my credibility with colleagues and students. The Foundation connected me with some of the best civic educators in the nation—a powerful network serving my instructional needs while holding me to the highest academic standards."

James Madison

"What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty & Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?"

—James Madison, Jr.