Knight Science Journalism Fellowships, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA


Knight Science Journalism Fellowships are for mid-career journalists who demonstrate a high level of journalistic excellence and accomplishment, as well as a long-term commitment to their craft. Journalists from all countries compete on an equal basis. To be eligible for a Knight Fellowship, applicants must meet our qualification standards and agree to a few stipulations.

Qualifications
Applicants must be full-time journalists, whether they are on staff or freelance. Part-time writers or producers are not eligible. Applicants must have at least three full years of experience covering science, technology, the environment, or medicine; or at least five years of other journalism experience and a desire to cover those areas in the future.

Journalism experience must be in the years immediately prior to applying.

Applicants may be reporters, writers, editors, producers, illustrators or photo-journalists. They may work for newspapers, magazines, television, radio or the Web.

There are no educational prerequisites, nor is there an age-limit.

Professionals working in public information, public relations, the trade press, government or academia are not eligible.

Proficiency in English is necessary for Fellows to make the most of their time at MIT. If you have taken the IELTS or TOEFL exam, we’d like to know your score. If you have not, but English is not your native language, we’d encourage you to take the IELTS exam.

Stipulations
To be awarded a Fellowship, selected applicants must agree to the following requirements:

  • To reside full-time in the Boston/Cambridge area for the academic year: August 15 through May 15.
  • To attend all boot camps, field trips, seminars, and new media training sessions arranged by the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships.
  • To participate in at least one science course per semester.
  • To refrain from professional work during the Fellowship, unless written permission has been granted by the Director.
  • For international candidates: To obtain a J-1 visa from the U.S. State Department after being awarded the Fellowship.

How to Apply
The application to the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships includes several pieces, listed below. Before applying please read “A few things everyone should be aware of when they apply for our 9-month Fellowship” at the bottom of this page.

Application requirements:
A) Online Application form. Application deadline: March 1, 2013.
Please email your subsequent materials, listed below, to knight-info@mit.edu with “Knight Application” in the Subject field.

B) Professional autobiography:Tell us about your professional life. Not to exceed 750 words.

C) Résumé or Curriculum Vitae: Be sure to include your education and work history.

D) Fellowship year proposal: Tell us what you plan to do during a fellowship year and how that would fit in with your professional goals. Not to exceed 750 words.

E) Freelancers: (Non-freelancers, skip this item). Provide a list of all your jobs in the last 12 months—what you did, for whom and, if your client is not widely known provide some idea of who or what it is. A few words for each job is sufficient.

F) Samples of professional work: Please provide six samples. If your work is in a format that cannot be submitted electronically, please contact us for submission details.

Guidelines for samples:

  • Select six works that best show your interests and abilities. Please, no more than six.
  • All six samples should have been published or broadcast within the last 24 months.
  • If work is available online, we prefer you provide a PDF (for print), an .mp3 (for audio) or an .mp4 (for video) in addition to the URL for each work sample.
  • If original work is not in English, English translations are required for at least three of the works.
  • Editors/Producers/Directors should indicate their involvement in the piece.
  • For series, send only the first and last pieces, with a brief outline of other items in the series.
  • For books, submit one chapter. (PDF files preferred.)
  • For audio/visual, submit a sample (or samples) with a total running time of up to 40 minutes. If samples are submitted on a CD or DVD, please include a written manuscript or synopsis indicating where each item (program, story or segment) begins. Please contact us first before sending CDs or DVDs. For online submissions, .mp3 or .mp4 files are preferred. Please contact us for details on how to upload your samples.
  • For photography/graphics, submit published works in context or as unmounted printouts. (For electronic submissions, JPG or GIF files preferred.)
  • Note, mailed submissions will not be returned.

G) Four Letters of Recommendation:

  • Three letters should be from individuals familiar with your work, commenting on your abilities and your commitment to journalism.
  • Optional: One letter should come from your organization’s publisher or your immediate supervisor, supporting your application and granting a 9-month leave of absence if awarded the Fellowship. (Freelancers, and people thinking of leaving their jobs to take a fellowship need only provide the first three letters.)

Letters may be emailed to knight-info@mit.edu, and should come directly from the recommender, not from a third party. Letters must reach us by March 1.

All application materials must be received by March 1:
Please email materials, with “9-Month Fellowship” in the Subject field, to: knight-info@mit.edu.

We prefer PDF files, but if you are unable to send a PDF we also accept DOC or TXT files.

We have a dropbox for submitting large audio or video files. We prefer .mp3 for audio and .mp4 for video files. However, we do accept most other formats. Please contact knight-info@mit.edu for details and dropbox URL.

If you cannot—or prefer not—to email your application materials, we’ll happily accept mailed copies. Make sure they reach us by March 1, 2012. Please contact us first before sending CDs or DVDs.

To send by US Mail use this address:

Knight Science Journalism at MIT
MIT E19-623, 77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139

To send by Fed Ex, UPS or DHL use this address:

Knight Science Journalism at MIT
MIT E19-623, 400 Main St.
Cambridge, MA 02142

617-452-3513
knight-info@mit.edu

Selection process:
Applicants are selected each spring by a panel of leading journalists and MIT faculty. All application materials must be received by March 1. Finalists are chosen in mid-April. U.S. finalists are brought to Cambridge for interviews in late April. International finalists are interviewed by telephone. Winners are announced by early May.

A few things everyone should be aware of when they apply for our 9-month Fellowship

If you are selected as a Fellow:

  • You will need to pay for you and your family’s travel to and from Boston.
  • Your housing search should begin early! We’ll share information from previous Knight Fellows and apartment listings, but securing an apartment is your responsibility.
  • Before signing a lease or sending any money for an apartment either see it in person or have someone you know and trust, like a friend or relative in the area, check it out for you.
  • Housing in the Cambridge area is expensive. To finalize a rental agreement, it is often required that a person pay their first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit of one month’s rent. MIT’s International Scholars website has information everyone should read about housing, utilities, and food prices in Cambridge.
  • Knight Fellows receive their stipend in 10 installments. If you are selected as a Fellow, your first stipend payment will be on August 31. Unfortunately, salary advances and loans are not possible.
  • FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: If you are selected as a FINALIST, please make sure that you and your family’s passports are current. The visa process must begin immediately after the Fellows are selected, and that process cannot start without a valid passport.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. If I am a freelance writer but also teach at a university, or have another job, am I eligible?

If you get a full-time salary as a teacher or in another occupation, you aren’t eligible.

2. If I freelance, and my outlets include trade association or government work, am I eligible?

In general, eligible journalists may not work for trade associations or governments. Some exceptions for occasional freelance assignments may be made.

3. If I have had a 9-month fellowship elsewhere, can I still apply for the Knight Fellowship?

Those who’ve had a 9-month fellowship already are ineligible.

4. How are fellows selected? How many applicants are there usually?

Fellows are selected by a panel of judges — usually five or six judges — after they send a fully completed application. The judges take into consideration a number of things, including the quality of work, the likelihood a journalist will benefit from the Fellowship, and the likelihood a journalist will continue to work in science and health journalism. The number of Fellows chosen has changed over the years, but is currently 12 per year. The pool of applicants is now currently more than one hundred for the 12 spots.

5. I haven’t taken the IELTS. Do I need to take the IELTS and have my scores reported by the deadline?

We don’t require that you take the IELTS, but would like to know your score if you have. We need to judge the ability of prospective Fellows to successfully listen and contribute to technical discusions in MIT classes.

6. Is it okay for me to send you my letters of recommendation, or do they need to come directly from the recommender?

Letters should come directly from the recommender. If the recommender’s assistant sends it via email, the recommender must be copied. Letters translated into English are accepted provided the original letter is also included.

7. Are KSJ events open to the public?

Many of the KSJ events are open to the public. For example, the twice-weekly seminars are usually open to the public, and if they are not, that will be noted on our seminar calendar. All our events are free, but some may require a ticket.

For more information, please visit official website: ksj.mit.edu

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