Thank you for your interest in the Peace Scholarship Dissertation Program! The United States Institute of Peace is dedicated to supporting advanced research from top academics in a variety of fields that contribute to a wider understanding of how to manage conflict and effectively build sustainable peace. Dissertation scholarships last for 10 months, starting in September each year. Scholarships are open to citizens of any country.

Peace Scholar Application Information
Former Peace Scholar Yelena Biberman at a seminar on “Understanding Pakistan” with Indian and Pakistani scholars and government officials in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

Registration for the 2019/2020 Peace Scholar competition opens on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 and closes on November 4, 2018 at 11pm ET. In order to apply, you must first register for an account at this link. It can take up to 72 hours to receive access to the application portal, so please register early.

All completed applications are due on Sunday, November 28, 2018 at 11pm ET. The application portal will close at that time and you will no longer be able to access your application. 

All letters of recommendation must be submitted by Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 11pm ET.

On your application, please indicate the scholarship(s) for which you would like to be considered: the USIP J.R. Peace Scholarship only; Minerva-USIP Peace and Security Scholarship only; or no preference. Both scholarships have the same application form, deadline, award amount, and selection process; the only difference between the USIP and Minerva Scholarship is the source of funding. 

We expect to award at least twelve scholarships for 2019-2020; six as USIP J.R. Peace Scholarships and six as Minerva-USIP Peace and Security Scholarships. You can access the application form here. (Please note: The application portal works best when using Google Chrome as your web browser. If you are experiencing issues with the application portal, please email jrprogram@usip.org. If the answer requires more than an email, we will schedule a time to help you by phone. Please allow us up to 72 hours to respond to your inquiry.) 

Proposal Topics

Proposals from all disciplines and on a wide range of topics related to peacebuilding are welcome. There are several criteria which, if met, will strengthen proposals:

  • All proposals should be consistent with the Institute’s mission and present a research agenda with clear relevance to policy issues. Historical topics are appropriate if they shed light on contemporary issues. Area studies projects and single-case studies will be considered if they focus on conflict and conflict resolution and/or apply to other regions and cases around the world, or both. 
  • To be competitive, applicants must make persuasive links between theoretical, practical and policy orientations, and demonstrate the links between their projects and the mission and work of the U.S. Institute of Peace and/or the Minerva Initiative. 
  • For the Minerva-USIP awards, strong applications should also present a persuasive argument that their research makes a basic or fundamental research contribution to the field, and discuss how their basic research contributions relate to broad concerns of conflict management and peacebuilding that may include (but are not limited to) security and stability.
  • Peace Scholar awards may not be made for projects that constitute policymaking for a government agency or private organization, focus to any substantial degree on conflicts within U.S. domestic society or adopt a partisan, advocacy or activist stance.

Scoring Rubric for USIP and Minerva Applications

Applications will be assessed using the five criteria below. Scoring is on a 1 to 5 scale: 1=Not Recommended, 2=Poor, 3=Satisfactory, 4=Good, 5=Outstanding. 

  • Thesis Clarity: Is the research question or project description clearly articulated? Is the proposal soundly conceived with a central problem that has been identified and analyzed?
  • Topic Significance/Relevance: Does the dissertation address an important topic of relevance to the fields of conflict resolution and international peace and security, and what is the likelihood of the research to affect policy or practice? How does it align to the USIP and/or Minerva mission?
  • Originality: How original or cutting-edge is the dissertation topic, and/or does the dissertation fill a gap in USIP’s knowledge of the issue? Is the methodology clear, innovative and rigorous? Is a unique approach presented?
  • Project Design and Implementation: How clear, specific, logical, and achievable are the objectives? Can the proposal be completed according to the intended design and timetable? 
  • Scientific and Technical Merit: Does the dissertation/project make clear the basic research contribution to social science (theoretical, methodological, and generalizable)?

Other Considerations:

  • What is the applicant’s record of achievement and/or leadership potential?
  • What is the applicant’s capacity to benefit from and make professional use of the fellowship experience in subsequent years?

Terms of Award

Peace Scholar Awards are currently set at $20,000 per academic year and are paid directly to the individual. Peace Scholar Awards may not be deferred. The Peace Scholar Dissertation Scholarship cannot be combined with any other major residential award or fellowship except with the written approval of the Institute. If written approval is granted, $30,000 is the maximum combined amount a Peace Scholar can receive during his/her tenure.  

Scholarships can be used for any phase of work on dissertations. Peace Scholars carry out their fellowship work at their universities or other sites appropriate to their research. Peace Scholars are expected to devote full attention to their work and provide three dissertation update reports to the Institute. Peace Scholars will be invited to present their dissertations to experts at the Institute during the annual Peace Scholar conference in the Fall of 2019. Peace Scholars may also be asked to do the following:

  • Work with Institute staff to present their work on the USIP website;
  • Conduct an interview with a USIP staff member on their own writing;
  • Publish an op-ed based on their dissertation/research;
  • Participate in Institute workshops, conferences, and other activities.

Restrictions of Award

Please note that the Peace Scholarship program does not support pre-dissertation level graduate work. Doctoral students in non-U.S.-based universities are not eligible. The scholarships cannot support research focused on U.S. domestic conflict and peacebuilding, however, research on U.S. government foreign policy is eligible for support. Peace Scholar awards may not be made for projects that constitute policy-making for a government agency or private organization, focus to any substantial degree on conflicts within U.S. domestic society, or adopt a partisan, advocacy, or activist stance.