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

Applications for the ABF/Northwestern Doctoral Fellowship in Law & Social Science are now open.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: February 1, 2023


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 this fellowship is to encourage original and significant research on law, the legal profession, and legal institutions.


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, 2023. 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 not be employees of the ABF and must retain benefits, including healthcare, through Northwestern. Fellows 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.


Fellowships are awarded for up to 24 months, beginning September 1, 2023.


Fellowships are held in residence at the ABF. 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. 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.


Applications are invited from outstanding Northwestern students who are candidates for Ph.D. degrees and who have completed all doctoral requirements except the dissertation by September 1, 2023. Doctoral research must be in the general area of socio-legal studies or involve social scientific approaches to the law, legal institutions, or legal processes.

How to Apply

Please submit all material through this URL: 

Applicants must include:

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

(2) 2-3 page description of a research project, a dissertation abstract or proposal with an outline of the substance and methods of the research;

(3) a curriculum vitae;

(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.

(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.”

View the Program Flyer here. 

About the American Bar Foundation 

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

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