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ABF/Northwestern University Doctoral Fellowship Program in Law and Social Science


The American Bar Foundation and Northwestern University are committed to developing the next generation of scholars in the field of law and social science. The purpose of the fellowship is to encourage original and significant research on law, the legal profession, and legal institutions.

Applications for the ABF/Northwestern Doctoral Fellowship in Law & Social Science for the 2020-21 academic year are now closed.

Applicants should be outstanding Northwestern students who are candidates for Ph.D. degrees in the social sciences or related fields. The ABF/Northwestern Doctoral Fellowship applications are reviewed by a committee of American Bar Foundation scholars along with the Northwestern University’s Provost Office. Final selection is made by the American Bar Foundation’s Doctoral Fellowship Committee. Applicants must have completed all doctoral requirements except the dissertation by September 1, 2020. Doctoral and proposed research must be in the general area of sociolegal studies or in social scientific approaches to law, legal institutions, the legal profession or social justice. The research must address significant issues in the field and show promise of a major contribution to social scientific understanding of law and justice.  


Fellows will receive a stipend of $35,000 per year for up to two academic years (24 months). Doctoral fellows will retain benefits, including healthcare, through Northwestern University. Fellows will also have access to a modest research account to reimburse expenses associated with conducting or presenting research.


Fellowships are awarded for up to 24 months, beginning September 1, 2020.


Fellowships are held in residence at the ABF. Appointments to fellowships are full time. Fellows are expected to participate fully in the academic life of the ABF so that they may develop close collegial ties with ABF faculty and other scholars in residence.


Applications are invited from outstanding students who are candidates for Ph.D. degrees and who have completed all doctoral requirements except the dissertation by September 1, 2020. Doctoral research must be in the general area of socio-legal studies or involve social scientific approaches to the law, legal institutions, legal processes, or social justice.

Non-U.S. nationals are welcome to apply; however, we do not have the institutional capacity to sponsor visas through the Department of Homeland Security.

How to Apply

Please submit all material through this URL:

Applicants must include: 

(1) 1-2 page cover letter of application;  

(2) a curriculum vitae;

(3) 2-3 page description of the dissertation research project, including an outline of the substance and methods of research; 

(4) names and contact information of 3 referees that we may contact if appropriate, one of whom should be the applicant’s dissertation chairperson;

(5) a writing sample, reflective of a candidate’s best work and appropriate to a candidate’s discipline; and

(6) a Diversity Statement, not more than 2 pages, highlighting demonstrated and planned efforts to promote diversity and equity through their research, life experience, or other work. 

If you have questions about the application process or the position, please direct inquiries to  with the subject line “ABF/Northwestern Doctoral Fellowship Program.”

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