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China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship

The China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship (CSPF), offered jointly by Ashoka University (India) and the Harvard-Yenching Institute (US) for recent PhDs in China Studies, is an opportunity for postdoctoral researchers to conduct a two-year study on China, extendable pending review and approval, under the guidance of established scholars and professors while teaching at top Indian universities. 


The fully-funded fellowship is open to scholars who have completed PhDs anytime after 2011 with a specific focus on China (utilizing Chinese language sources) across various disciplines of humanities and social science. These include, but are not limited to, anthropology, archaeology, cultural studies, economics, geography, history, international relations, language and literature, legal history, philosophy, political science, religion and sociology. 


The founding cohort of the China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship will be announced by September 2020, and will be placed across different universities within India starting from Fall 2020 semester. The fellowship will have both a research and a teaching component. The fellowship is extendable to an additional (third) year, which is conditional and based on the performance of the fellow in the first two years of the program. Applicants should have a working knowledge of Mandarin, sufficient for academic research.


In the 21st century, India needs to invest in its ability to understand its neighbors in order to grow and prosper. China plays an important role in the region and we need to study China and understand their economic, political, social, and historical conditions to support and enhance continued engagement. Both India and China, with their massive populations, economies, and environmental impacts, have outsized effects on the trajectory of global affairs.  If there were a prime moment for India to invest in its ability to understand China better, this would be it.


The China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship aims at building an effective understanding of China within India by supporting scholars of China Studies to continue their research and supplement our nation’s learnings on China, and at the same time assisting host institutions in India to develop an effective capacity to learn more about our neighboring country. 


Extendable Third Year

Fellows are initially selected for a period of 2 years. At the end of the second year, fellows may be offered an additional third year based on their performance in the first two years. Fellows’ performance will be assessed based on the feedback from host institutions, their willingness to extend fellows’ position and the research undertaken. 


This additional third year does not mandate any teaching hours and will be focused on research. The fellows may spend this year working on and further refining their thesis.

Number of Fellows 10
Focus Areas Humanities and Social Studies with a focus on China (anthropology, archaeology, cultural studies, economics, geography, history, international relations, language and literature, legal history, philosophy, political science, religion and sociology).
Funding Support

Stipend of INR 1,00,000 per month

Research award of INR 4,50,000 per annum

The stipend will be adjusted for inflation each year.


Note: The CSPF Program is financially supported by Ashoka University (India) and the Harvard-Yenching Institute (USA) only.


Teach -  2 courses per year at their host universities in India

Research - Undertake research over the fellowship period in line with their research proposal with the aim to convert their research into a book / academic paper, publish their work in leading academic journals and deliver multiple lectures on their research topic.


Fellows will be matched with academic mentors, who may not necessarily be at the same university. The mentors must be experts on China and can be self-selected by the fellows. The academic mentors will guide the fellows over the two-year period with their research and give periodic feedback. 

Application timeline

Start date - February 10, 2020

Closing date - September 06, 2020


Note: Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis. Applications for Fellowship Period starting Spring 2021 Semester onwards should be submitted latest by September 06, 2020. 


Scholars who meet the following eligibility criteria can apply for the program:


  • Applicants should have completed their PhD by the start date of the fellowship. (If the date of conferral is after the application deadline, the application must include an institutional statement attesting that all requirements for the PhD have been fulfilled. Successful applicants will be asked to submit proof of conferral).

  • Applicants are scholars of China studies, demonstrated by the use of Mandarin sources in their research.

  • Applicants should have a working knowledge of written and/or spoken Mandarin. All applicants will be evaluated on their Mandarin competence through a language interview.

  • Preference may be given to Indian citizens/permanent residents. However, non-Indian citizens are highly encouraged to apply provided they are willing to make a commitment towards the development of China Studies as a discipline in India for at the least next four to five years.

  • Applicants must hold a PhD degree conferred no earlier than January 01, 2011.

  • Applicants who have obtained tenure, or whose tenure review will be complete before May 31, 2020, are not eligible.

  • Applicants should indicate a commitment to working in Indian academia for at least the next four to five years. 

Fellowship Timeline





Application start date

February 10, 2020


Round 1 deadline (for Fall 2020 semester)

April 15, 2020


Round 2 deadline (For Spring 2021 semester)

September 06, 2020


Interviews of Round 2 applicants (for Spring 2021 semester)

September 15, 2020 - October 15, 2020


Start of semester (Round 2 applicants)

January 2021


First review (Round 2 applicants)

January 2022


Final presentation (Round 2 applicants)

January 2023


Note: The applications for the China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship will be assessed on a rolling basis.

Fellowship Committee

The fellows will be guided and mentored by a Fellowship Committee. The Committee will also be responsible for selecting the fellows, monitoring the progress of their research, providing periodic feedback, and helping disseminate the information.


The members for the Fellowship Committee for Founding Cohort of China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship are:


Selection Process

The applications for the China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship would be assessed on a rolling basis. Round 1 evaluations are over. The selection process for Round 2 is mentioned below -


Application Stage

The applicant will be expected to apply through an application form which will include:

  • Statement of intent detailing the applicant’s interest in China and the relevance of their research to China Studies or India–China comparative studies.

  • Details of applicant’s academic background, qualifications, and work experience.

  • Preliminary research proposal on how they wish to conduct research over two years.

  • Proof of possessing a working knowledge of Mandarin.

Interview Stage 

If the applicant meets all the eligibility criteria, they will be invited for an interview with the Fellowship Committee. The interview stage consists of the following 3 parts:

  • Part 1- Language Evaluation: A Sub-Committee, from within the Fellowship Committee, will evaluate the candidate’s spoken/ reading competence of the Chinese language and decide on whether or not the applicant should be invited to the next stage.

  • Part 2 - Academic Review: If the applicant has been shortlisted, the Fellowship Committee will review their application and indicate if they should be invited for the academic interview. 

  • Part 3 - Academic Interview: Applicant, if selected for part 3 of the interview stage, will be then interviewed by the Fellowship Committee. The Committee will assess the applicant based on their academic depth/knowledge of discipline, commitment to pursuing China Studies academically, their potential to participate in building China Studies centers, and their intent to contribute to Indian academia.

At this stage, partner institutions will also review profiles of the potential fellows to approve final selection.

Expectations from fellows
  • Fellows will be required to create the course curriculum in consultation with the host institution. The teaching hours will be limited to not more than 5 hours per teaching week. 

  • Fellows are expected to convert their research into a book / academic papers, publish their work in leading academic journals and deliver multiple lectures on their research topic. Ashoka will help disseminate the research work.

  • Fellows are expected to help the university in its long-term strategy for implementing China Studies programs.

  • Fellows will be reviewed on their progress at the end of every year. The review shall be conducted by their supervisors and mentors, along with the Fellowship Committee.

  • At the end of the Fellowship period, fellows will be expected to present their research to a larger audience of experts on China, their mentors, senior faculty from partner universities, students and other scholars of China.

Host Institutions

Ashoka University is working to partner with top Indian universities and institutions, both public and private, that are committed to building China Studies as a thriving inter-disciplinary field. We shall be releasing the list of our host institutions soon.


The China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship will serve as a platform for creation of China studies as a program at the host institution. This would lead to the creation of a culture of research on China at the institution, and help the students develop a deeper understanding of China. The development of China studies as a discipline would also be supplemented with language programs as well, details of which would be available soon on Ashoka University's website.


Kindly note that we are only partnering with host institutions in India. We have not formed any partnerships or collaborations with institutions in China, financially, or otherwise.


Should you need more information about the program, kindly contact Sajal Sehgal (CSPF Program Lead) at