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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply for a Fellowship?

U.S. citizens who demonstrate a commitment to civic responsibilities and to professional and collegial activities and who qualify for admission with graduate standing at an accredited U.S. university that offers a qualifying master's degree program are eligible to apply. Applicants must be committed to teaching American history, American government, or civics classes where you will teach topics on the Constitution full-time in grades 7–12.

What is a qualifying masters degree program?

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. Everyone entering the James Madison Fellowship Program 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, or 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

I already have a graduate degree. May I still apply for a James Madison Fellowship?

Yes, but the Foundation will strongly encourage the second master's degree to be a "content degree," i.e., Master’s of Arts (MA) in American history, political science, or government.

What are the selection criteria?

Applicants compete only against other applicants from the state of their legal residence. Applicants are evaluated on their commitment to a career teaching American history, American government, or civics where you will teach topics on the Constitution at the secondary school level. You must demonstrate:

  • intent to pursue and complete a program of graduate study that emphasizes the Constitution and offers instruction in that subject,
  • devotion to civic responsibility,
  • and the capacity for study and performance as classroom teachers.

Applicants will be evaluated without regard to race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation or other non-merit factors.

How can I prepare an outstanding application?

A well thought out and reviewed application is key to being awarded a James Madison Fellowship. Review the application help page to prepare an outstanding application.

Who selects the Fellows?

An independent Fellowship Selection Committee will evaluate all valid applications submitted by the annual deadline. The Fellowship Selection Committee reviews and rates each application on a merit basis. The Fellowship Selection Committee will then recommend to the Foundation the top applicants to be awarded a James Madison Fellowship.

How many Fellowships are awarded?

The number of Fellowships awarded is determined by the amount of funding (from government sources and private donations) available in any given year. It is, however, the goal of the Foundation to select annually, a James Madison Fellow from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and a single territorial entity (Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) from which at least two fully qualified applications meeting the minimum requirements are received.

Why are there two types of Fellowships (Junior and Senior)?

There are two types of Fellowships to recognize the different challenges and circumstances between those without teaching experience and those currently teaching who seek to pursue graduate study. 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 civics where you will teach topics on the Constitution in grades 7–12. Junior Fellows must complete graduate study within two academic years of full-time study. Senior Fellowships are awarded to superior current teachers who must be able to complete graduate study within five calendar years.

Can I use Fellowship funds to support a doctoral program?

James Madison Fellowships cannot be used to support doctoral-level study or law degrees.

If awarded a Fellowship as a Senior Fellow, could I pursue graduate study full time if my school of employment allows me a sabbatical or leave of absence?

Yes; however, the Foundation cannot provide over $12,000 in any academic year.

What types of courses fulfill the required constitutional coursework?

Examples of constitutional content courses include: constitutional history; legal history; political science courses in federalism, presidency, Congress, the judiciary, American political thought, and political and legal philosophy.

Can I attend a university outside of my legal state of residence?

Yes, provided the proposed course of graduate study offers a qualifying master's degree program within the United States and allows at least 12 semester hours or their equivalent of study of the origins, principles, and development of the U.S. Constitution.

What is the value of a Fellowship award?

The maximum amount of each award is $24,000, prorated over the period of study. 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, books, room and board (if required to live away from your primary residence), and are made only for the minimum number of credits required for the award of the degree for which a Fellow is registered.

When are applications due?

Completed applications must be submitted online no later than March 1 of each year. Letters of recommendation must be submitted online by March 6.

When are applicants notified of their selection?

James Madison Fellows are named by the Foundation and notified of their selection in late April or early May.

What are a Fellows obligations to the Foundation during their graduate education?

Each Fellow must make satisfactory progress toward the degree and remain in good academic standing and must complete the graduate degree study within the amount of time indicated above. Junior Fellows may not be engaged in gainful employment that interferes with the Fellow's studies. In addition, each Fellow is required to attend the Foundation's Summer Institute during the term of fellowship. The four-week Summer Institute is held in Washington, D.C., each summer. The centerpiece of the Institute is a graduate course, "The Foundations of American Constitutionalism." In addition to the graduate coursework, participants will have the opportunity to visit historic sites associated with the institutions of American government and the Constitution's framers. Fellows are required to submit annually a Verification of Employment form (for those teaching), an Annual Activities Report, and a grade report.

When does a Fellow attend the Summer Institute?

Fellows normally attend the Summer Institute the summer after the year they have been admitted to a master's degree program and taken six or more credits at the graduate level.

What is a Fellows obligation after graduate study is completed?

After receiving a master's degree, each Fellow must teach American history, American government, or civics and teach topics on the Constitution in grades 7–12 for one full year for each academic year of support received under a Fellowship, preferably in the state from which the recipient was awarded. Teaching during the term of the Fellowship study does not count toward satisfaction of this obligation, nor does transfer into an administrative position or to college or university teaching.

A Fellow's failure to complete the study for which the Fellowship is awarded, to attend the Summer Institute on the Constitution, or to teach qualifying subjects 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.

After completing graduate education, when does a Fellow start the professional teaching obligation?

The Foundation requires that Fellows teach immediately following the award of the master's degree.

Erin Freeman

Erin Freeman

Wyoming Fellow

Erin is earning her Master's in History at Ashland University. She teaches at South High School in Cheyenne, WY.

It was INCREDIBLE! This opportunity changed my life. It wasn't just intellectually stimulating; it was a personal growth seminar. The most extraordinary part of this program was being surrounded by the most incredible educators in the nation. This program is empowering, and changed my personal and professional life forever.