Opportunities: SAO Predoctoral Program: Application Instructions
  1. Application materials are due 6 weeks before the intended start date of your fellowship award.
    Application materials, including those not submitted online, must be received 6 weeks before the start date of your award for full consideration. Incomplete applications -- and/or applications received less then 6 weeks prior an applicant's intended start date -- will only be considered if a new start date is established. We strongly suggest that applicants begin the online application process early so all questions and issues that arise from this process are resolved before final submittal of applications materials. All questions, including technical questions related to our online program, may be directed to predoc@cfa.harvard.edu.
  2. Note: After logging in to the online application, select "View Status" to check what is still incomplete before hitting the submit button. All edits and changes to your application are accepted until the application is formally submitted.

  3. Application Procedure
    Applicants should complete the entire application (with the exception of the Transcript of Grades and recommendation letters), including the uploading of files listed below. If you are unable to apply online, contact predoc@cfa.harvard.edu.

    The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Advisor triggers the application process by uploading an endorsement form to the SAO Predoctoral Application. This step further allows the SAO Advisor to share the application link with the applicant. Similarly, the applicant's initial registration requires an email address and a self-generated password. After the password is verified, the applicant can select "Edit Application" to enter their Personal Data, File Uploads, and References. The applicant can submit the application when it is complete and ready for review.

  4. Uploaded Files Required All uploaded files must be in 12-point font
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Summary of previous and current research (limited to three pages including references and figures).
    • Research proposal (limited to three pages including references and figures).

    Note: PDF files can be uploaded into the application by using the "Browse" button or by typing the full path and file name in the box provided. For best results, upload PDF files. If you are unable to do so, Word documents or plain text files are acceptable.

    You may review previously loaded files by clicking on the numbered link provided.

  5. Transcript of Grades
    An official transcript of your courses and grades must be mailed by the Registrar or equivalent authority at your university to the Fellowship Program Coordinator (see address listed under "Letters of Reference"). If records are not in English, original records must be submitted with certified English translations. All translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.
  6. Letters of Reference
    Each applicant should arrange for letters of reference to be submitted by three individuals ("referees") familiar with her or his scientific abilities. One referee must be the applicant's primary advisor at their home institution. If English is not the first language of the applicant, we recommend that the applicant convey to the reference writers that an assessment of the their English proficiency be included in their letter.

    These letters must be received by the application deadline and should be emailed directly to the Fellowship Program Coordinator at predoc@cfa.harvard.edu as Word or pdf attachments. Plain text is also acceptable. Applicants should emphasize to their referees that the letters must be received at CfA at least 6 weeks before the start date of your fellowship award to enable the Director of the Predoctoral Program to review the complete application.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that letters of reference have been received. Applicants can use the "View Status" feature to check if receipt of each letter of reference has been recorded. If an applicant's referee is unable to send a copy of a reference electronically, he/she may send it to:

    Fellowship Program Coordinator
    Center for Astrophysics
    60 Garden Street, MS 67
    Cambridge, MA 02138

  7. SAO Advisor
    All applicants must obtain the endorsement and application link from their potential SAO Advisor. Through an endorsement, an SAO Advisor indicates to the reviewers that he/she has agreed to supervise and provide research funding for the applicant. Once this endorsement form has been uploaded to the application, the applicant will see the word "Done" written in the "View Status" section of the application. NOTE: A list of current openings is available in the left navigation bar of the SAO Predoc Program web page.

  8. Approval from Department Head of Home Institution
    In order to be eligible for an SAO Predoctoral Fellowship, applicants must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program. The applicant is also responsible for communicating to the Department Head of her/his home institution that a SAO Predoctoral Research Review Committee (which includes the SAO Advisor) will monitor and support his/her research activities. An email confirmation must be sent by his/her Department Head to the Fellowship Program Director, Dr. James Babb, at predoc@cfa.harvard.edu. The message should include the following:
    • a statement that the student is enrolled as a full time graduate student
    • approval of the student's plan to pursue doctoral research at SAO

    A sample letter is provided here.

  9. Requests for Information
    Requests for additional information on application procedures and supporting documents should be addressed to: predoc@cfa.harvard.edu

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Clay Fellow Warren Brown