Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Fellowship

 Excrescence on the bark of myrtle.
Excrescence on the bark of myrtle, mûtîrânum, i.e. al-yâsimîn [top]; Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), qihrâtiyâ, i.e., al-kharnûb al-shâmî. The tree bears long pods [bottom], fol. 61v 
(View in the Digital Collections.)

The New York Public Library is pleased to offer the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Fellowship to support advanced research on The New York Public Library’s holdings of materials from the Arab world, Africa, Turkey, Iran, South Asia, Central Asia, and their diasporas in the United States. Fellowships are open to Ph.D. candidates, post-doctoral scholars, and independent researchers with projects that would significantly benefit from research drawing on collections accessible at The New York Public Library. Projects requiring access to original materials including manuscripts, archives, books, photographs, prints, maps, newspapers, and journals will be given preference, but all worthy projects will be considered. Applicants studying the humanities as well as those working in the visual, auditory/performing, and literary arts are welcome to apply. 

Established with the generous support of Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, the Fellowship Program will support one fellow annually for three months with a stipend of $25,000. Each fellow will have full access to the Library’s collections and staff, as well as a dedicated place to work in the Vartan Gregorian Center for Research in the Humanities. 

The annual fellow will be selected following a review of applications by NYPL staff and an external committee of scholars, librarians, curators, and creatives. The Library will also explore how to support international scholars with visa requirements. The Library will continue offering this annual fellowship through 2029. Application information will be made available on this website each year.

For assistance with the application process, email fellowships@nypl.org. Library staff cannot provide feedback on individual applications or project proposals.

Middle Eastern and Islamic Collections at NYPL

The New York Public Library offers extensive interdisciplinary collections on and from the Middle East, ranging from the Ancient Near East to the most recent current events across multiple countries and diverse cultures. During the early twentieth-century, the Library was one of a handful of research institutions collecting in these areas, making it one of the outstanding centers for the study of Arab, Persian, South Asian, Turkish, Armenian, and early Semitic history and culture. The Library continues to collect contemporary materials, from recently published works to artists’ books by artists in the Middle East and the diasporas. These collections are held in the Library’s Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division; the Wallach Division of Art, Print, and Photographs; the Spencer Collection; the General Research Division; the Music Division; the Billy Rose Theatre Division; the Jerome Robbins Dance Division; and the  Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Applicants should articulate the importance of the Library’s Middle Eastern and Islamic holdings to their projects and are encouraged to contact the Curator for Middle Eastern Studies, Dr. Hiba Abid (hibaabid@nypl.org) with any questions regarding collections or additional holdings. Explore the NYPL Research Catalog, Archives and Manuscripts Portal, Research Guides, and the catalog of Islamic manuscripts in the New York Public Library by Barbara Schmitz,  for more information on collections and resources accessible at NYPL’s research centers. While these do not represent the entirety of the Library’s collections, they provide a thorough overview and are a good place to start. 

Key Dates:

  • Applications open: May 20, 2024
  • Application deadline: August 5, 2024
  • Recommendation letters due: August 12, 2024 
  • Applicant notification: November 2024
  • Award period: January 2, 2025 - June 30, 2025


United States citizens, permanent residents, and international applicants with the legal right to work in the U.S. are welcome to apply. 

Application Instructions: 

To apply for the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Fellowship, please visit the NYPL Fellowship Portal, register for an account (or log in with your existing account), and create a user profile. Once in the portal, click on “Fellowships” at the top of the page to view open applications and apply. 

A complete application must include the following:

  • Profile and application completed in the NYPL Fellowship Portal
  • An updated CV
  • Project proposal of no more than five pages – see below for further details
  • Two professional letters of recommendation

Note: The CV that you upload when creating your user profile will be automatically attached to any applications you submit in the portal thereafter. Recommendation letters will be accepted until August 12th  provided you have submitted an otherwise complete application by August 5th, 2024. When you submit your application, an email will be sent to your recommender with instructions and a link to upload their letter. 

Project Proposal:

Successful project proposals will include a thorough explanation of how in-person access to collections accessible at The New York Public Library is essential to the progress and completion of the research project. Proposals should also include: 

  • Abstract of the project’s major themes, questions, and arguments
  • Significance of the project 
  • Specific Library collections and holdings to be consulted during the fellowship
  • Project plan, including a timeline of your work with the Library’s collections during the fellowship term and a description of the proposed methodological approach
  • Expected project outcomes
  • Suggested topic for public presentation
  • Desired dates of residence

Selection Criteria:

Applications will be reviewed by  an external selection committee of expert scholars, librarians, curators, and creatives who will consider the following criteria:

  • Need for research holdings of The New York Public Library
  • Uniqueness of materials and innovative uses of material
  • Quality of the project plan as it relates to the size and scope of materials to be accessed 
  • Impact this grant might have on the applicant’s project or career

Successful applications will include an in-depth explanation of how collections existing only at NYPL are essential to the progress and completion of the research project. 

Fellowship Terms:

Fellows will have sustained access to world-class collections in a quiet shared study room within the Vartan Gregorian Center for Research in the Humanities as well as access to the Library's expert staff for consultation or guidance. The Library will provide an orientation to collections and services as well as opporunities to connect with NYPL's broader scholarly community for engagement with peers and the public.

Note that the fellowship recipient will be required to participate in a public program or provide content for a blog post to illuminate their discoveries in the collections. 


The New York Public Library's Middle Eastern Mid-Term Fellowship Program is generously supported by Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos.