Opportunities: SAO Predoctoral Program: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?
Applications are accepted online through a rolling admissions process. In order to apply online, applicants will need a computer with an internet connection and a supported web browser. Applicants can gain access to the online application through a link shared by a potential SAO Advisor who has endorsed your candidacy for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Predoctoral Program.

Can I upload my transcript(s) to the application?
No, the Registrar's Office of the applicant's respective university must send your transcript by email or snail mail to the Fellowship Program Coordinator at SAO. The Fellowship Program Coordinator can be contacted at ccrowley@cfa.harvard.edu or with the following address:

Christine Crowley
Fellowship Program Coordinator
60 Garden Street, MS-67
Cambridge, MA 02138

Can I print the application form and mail it?
If you are unable to use the online application, contact predoc@cfa.harvard.edu for more information.

Will funding be awarded for my fellowship if my application is accepted?
All applicants must either have funding from their home institution or obtain funding directly from their SAO Advisor.

When is the deadline?
Applications are accepted throughout the year. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all materials, including letters of recommendation, are received. Incomplete applications -- and/or applications received less than six weeks before the intended start date -- will not be considered.

What type of visa am I eligible for as a fellowship recipient at SAO?
The SAO issues only J-1 visas to fellowship recipients. SAO cannot issue any other type of visa including tourist or employment visas to fellowship recipients at the time of their award or during their tenure if their J-1 visa eligibility expires. Please contact us at predoc@cfa.harvard.edu if you have further questions about visa eligibility.

When will I know if I have been accepted into the SAO Predoctoral Fellowships?
Acceptances will be issued by email shortly after receipt of required application materials. If you are not selected, you will also be notified via email.

Are there any requirements I must meet in order to apply?
All applicants must be currently enrolled in a full-time Ph.D. degree program. Additionally, applicants must have completed preliminary coursework and examinations and be ready to begin dissertation research at the time of the award. Most important, the candidate must secure the endorsement (form) and sponsorship of an SAO advisor. Finally, permission of her/his university's department head is also required in order to be given full consideration by the Director of the SAO Predoctoral Program.

Where are the Application Instructions?
They are online on the Application Instructions web page.

How should letters of recommendation be submitted?
Letters of reference should be submitted by three "referees" familiar with your scientific abilities. One of these referees is required to be the applicant's primary advisor at their home institution. A reference letter can be uploaded directly to the application by the reference writer. However, if a writer has problems uploading their letter to the application, he/she may email as Word attachments, PDF, or plain text their letter directly to the Fellowship Program Coordinator at predoc@cfa.harvard.edu. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that letters of reference have been received before submitting their application. Use the "View Status" feature to check if receipt of a letter of reference has been recorded.

What format is required for uploading files?
Files should be in pdf format. If this is not possible, Word documents or plain text are acceptable.

Can I edit my application online?
Yes, applicants can access the application as many times as you want until final submission. Applicants can enter more information or edit existing information each time. You can upload new files to replace existing ones until you hit the submission button.

If my password does not work, what should I do?
On the "Fellowship Application: Login" page select "Reset Password" and a new password will be emailed to you if you have already successfully registered.

How will I know if all my application materials have been received?
After logging in to the application, applicants can select "View Status" to check what remains incomplete in any part of their applications. In addition, when applicants view their application online, they can check previously uploaded files by clicking on the link provided. Applicants will be prompted for a username and password -- enter the email address and username you used to register.

What should I do if I notice an error in my application after I submit it?
Until the application is submitted, applicants can access the application to make corrections, including uploading new versions of the pdf files.

What if I decide to withdraw my application?
If an applicant wants to withdraw their application, an email can be sent to predoc@cfa.harvard.edu stating your full name and which fellowship application you wish to withdraw.

What if I have other questions?
Please send an email inquiry to us at predoc@cfa.harvard.edu.


Clay Fellow Warren Brown