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ABF/AccessLex Institute Doctoral Fellowship Program in Legal & Higher Education

Applications for the ABF/National Science Foundation Doctoral Fellowship Program in Law & Inequality for the 2023-24 academic year are now open.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: February 1, 2023

The American Bar Foundation (ABF), in partnership with AccessLex Institute, is committed to developing the next generation of scholars interested in empirical and interdisciplinary research on legal and higher education. Since 2017, the ABF has hosted doctoral and post-doctoral fellows in the ABF/AccessLex Fellowship Program in Legal & Higher Education. The purpose of the fellowship is to assist emerging scholars who are studying issues of access, affordability, or value in legal and higher education. This fellowship program seeks to assemble and coordinate a professional network of scholars who will produce innovative, objective, empirical and interdisciplinary research in the field. The ABF invites applications for one predoctoral fellowship that will begin in September 202.


The doctoral fellow will receive an annual stipend of $38,000. The doctoral fellow will not be an employee of the ABF and must retain benefits, including healthcare, through their home institution. The fellow will also have access to a modest research account to reimburse expenses associated with research, travel to meet with advisors, or travel to conferences at which papers are presented. Reasonable relocation expenses may be reimbursed if the fellow moves to Chicago for this fellowship.


The fellowship term is one year, beginning September 1, 2023. There is a possibility that the fellowship could be renewed for a second year, contingent on continued grant funding.


Appointments to fellowships are full time. Because this is a full-time program, the ABF does not allow fellows to hold concurrent fellowships, but we support and encourage fellows to apply for research grants. 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. Preference will be given to applicants who can participate in residence at the ABF offices in Chicago, but we will consider applications from those who cannot relocate and will participate remotely.


The ABF/AccessLex Doctoral Fellowship Program will support one predoctoral fellowship. Applications are invited from outstanding students who are candidates for LLM degrees, SJD degrees, and Ph.D. degrees, across a broad range of disciplines, who have completed all doctoral requirements except the dissertation by September 1, 2023. Doctoral research must address significant issues in the field and show promise of a major contribution to social scientific understanding of legal or higher education. Students from underrepresented minority groups are especially encouraged to apply. There are no citizenship requirements for this fellowship, but fellows must be authorized to work in the United States. Please note that we do not have the institutional capacity to sponsor visas through the Department of Homeland Security.

How to Apply

Please submit all materials through this URL:

Applicants must include:

(1) 1-2 page cover letter of application that includes a statement about whether you would be able to relocate to Chicago for the fellowship or if you would participate remotely;

(2) 2-3 page description of a research project or interest that relates to legal or higher education;

(3) resume or curriculum vitae;

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

(5) names and contact information of 3 referees that we may contact if appropriate, one of whom should be the applicant’s dissertation chairperson or LLM/SJD advisor; and

(6) a Contributions to Diversity Statement, 2-3 pages in length, highlighting demonstrated and planned efforts to promote diversity and equity through their research or other work, including detailed examples and descriptions that demonstrate both understanding and actions in the following three areas:

  1. Awareness of and ability to articulate understanding regarding diversity broadly conceived, and historical, social, and economic factors that influence the underrepresentation of particular groups in academia. Life experience may be an important aspect of this understanding.
  2. A track record, calibrated to career stage, of engagement and activity related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Specific details about these activities should be provided, including goals, strategies, outcomes, and your role in the cited activities. Strong evidence typically consists of multiple examples of action from undergraduate through current career stage.
  3. Specific, concrete goals, plans, and priorities for engagement on diversity, equity, and inclusion as a potential law faculty member.

If you have questions about the application process or the position, please direct inquiries to  with the subject line “ABF/ AccessLex Doctoral Fellowship Program in Legal and Higher Education."

About the Partners

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is the world’s leading research institute for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. The ABF seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions. To further this mission the ABF will produce timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally. The ABF’s primary funding is provided by the American Bar Endowment and the Fellows of The American Bar Foundation.

AccessLex Institute® fosters broad-based access to quality legal education for talented, purpose-driven students and works to maximize the value and affordability of a law degree through policy advocacy, research and student-focused initiatives. Learn more at

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