Lionel Pearson Fellowship
Information for Candidates
This page contains the following sections, click on the links below to read:
Current Guidelines for the Fellowship
Important Dates for the 2021-2022 Application Cycle
Studying in England and Scotland
The Lionel Pearson Fellowship Committee of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS), founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association (APA), is grateful for your interest in the Fellowship. This document will provide some background on Lionel Pearson, who established the scholarship, and on the Fellowship itself, including information about the competition and what is expected from the applicants and their faculty sponsors. To help the candidates develop a plan of study, we have included some suggestions about where to obtain information about the programs at institutions in England and Scotland. Finally, we have compiled a list of past Fellows and those who have served on the committees. Ultimately, you may have questions that remain unanswered after you have read through the following sections; so, we invite you to contact any of the current members of the Committee who can supplement the information you will find in this document. You will find contact information for the current members of the Committee at the end of the final section.
Born in England in 1908, Lionel Pearson received his undergraduate training at Trinity College, Oxford where he graduated with his B.A. in 1930. He went on to pursue graduate training at Yale, completing his Ph.D. in 1939. After holding positions at Glasgow and Dalhousie, he joined the Classics faculty at Stanford University in 1940 and taught there until his retirement in 1973. During World War II, from 1943 to 1945, he returned to England where he served as an intelligence officer for the British Army at Bletchley, working with other academics to decipher the codes used by the German Wehrmacht, including those generated by the famous Enigma machines. Following his retirement from Stanford, he returned to Yale to teach during the 1974-1975 academic year.
Pearson was an enthusiastic teacher and an active member of the profession. He was also a prolific scholar, authoring over ninety reviews, articles, and monographs, including Early Ionian Historians (1939), The Local Historians of Attica (1942), The Lost Histories of Alexander the Great (1960), Popular Ethics in Ancient Greece (1962), and The Art of Demosthenes (1976). He died from pancreatic cancer on September 18, 1988.
Shortly before he died in 1988, Pearson informed the APA (as it then was) of his desire to establish a scholarship that would enable graduates from colleges and universities in the United States and Canada to spend a year studying classics in England or Scotland. At the meeting of the Board of Directors on October 15, 1988, W. R. Connor, the President of the APA at the time, formed an ad hoc committee from members of the Board and charged them with the responsibility of establishing an administrative structure and guidelines for the scholarships. The committee, consisting of Harry B. Evans, Julia H. Gaisser, Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, and Richard J. Tarrant, submitted its recommendations to the Board on January 5, 1989, and these were approved.
Current Guidelines for The Fellowship
Name of Fellowship: The Lionel Pearson Fellowship
Purpose: To contribute to the education of American- and Canadian-trained classicists by providing for a period of study at an English or Scottish university
Eligibility: Open to majors in Greek, Latin, or Classics. Applicants should expect to obtain the B.A. by September 2024, in order to begin an academic year of postgraduate work at that time. Normally, he recipient will hold the Fellowship in the academic year or two immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s degree.
Length of Tenure: One year. Fellows may use the Fellowship to support one year of a longer program of study, provided that the program meets the requirement set out below under “Course of Study,” but under no circumstances will a Pearson Fellowship be awarded for a period longer than one year.
Value of Fellowship: $27,000 for 2024-25. At the end of the year, Fellows must submit receipts for academic fees, living expenses, and travel to and from the place of study that equal or exceed the amount of the Fellowship.
Special Offers from Cambridge and Oxford Universities: The Pearson Fellowship may be used at any university in the United Kingdom. Please note, however, that the Classics Faculties of both Cambridge and Oxford Universities have generously offered to provide a tuition subvention for any Pearson Fellow enrolled in either of their programs. Students wishing to study with other faculties at Cambridge or Oxford may have access to such support as well, but the SCS cannot guarantee this. The SCS will attempt (but it cannot guarantee) to obtain a similar accommodation from another institution in the UK should the Fellow attend a university other than Oxford or Cambridge.
Application Process: In 2023-2024, candidates can once again apply directly to SCS for the fellowship. The application should include three letters of recommendation from instructors familiar with the applicant’s work; an undergraduate transcript; a writing sample; and a personal statement describing the candidate’s interests in Classics, proposed plan of study in Britain, and intention to pursue graduate study in the United States.
(a) Selection Committee. All applications will be read by a Selection Committee consisting of five professional classicists. The members of the Committee are appointed by the President of the Society on the advice of the current Chair of the Committee. They serve for a term of three years, normally without renewal.
(b) Interviews. The Selection Committee will choose a shortlist of four to five candidates to be invited for virtual interviews in early January. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to submit an extended writing sample prior to their interview. See below for deadlines.
(c) Criteria for Selection. In assessing candidates the Selection Committee will give primary consideration to overall promise as a classicist and ability to benefit from a year of study in Britain.
Choice of Place of Study: Fellows are responsible for determining the English or Scottish university at which to take up the Fellowship, and for making all applications for admission. (Information about programs suitable for Pearson Fellows appears below.)
Course of Study: Fellows should choose their course of study in consultation with the relevant department of the English or Scottish university where they wish to work. The program of study need not involve enrolling for a degree; it must, however, be designed to broaden and deepen the Fellow’s knowledge of Greek and Latin literature in the original languages. (Research degrees for which a thesis is the only formal requirement are not suitable.) The proposed course of study must be approved by the Selection Committee before payment of any funds relating to the Fellowship can be authorized.
Fellows’ Reports: Each Fellow submits a report at the end of the fellowship year describing the work done during the year, assessing its value to the Fellow’s training as a classicist, and offering any suggestions that might be helpful to future Fellows.
At the outset of this process, the Committee urges candidates to bear three important issues in mind.
1. This fellowship supports academic work in England or Scotland for a period of one year. Consequently, the Committee will not entertain any proposals for study in any other country. In some cases, students who apply to institutions in the UK will not be able to complete a degree in one year. If they wish to complete a second BA or an advanced degree that requires more than one year of full-time study, they will have to find other means of support for subsequent years.
2. As stipulated in the guidelines above, this Fellowship is to enable the recipient “to broaden and deepen the Fellow’s knowledge of Greek and Latin literature in the original languages.” Consequently, the Committee will not accept proposals from candidates who apply for the Fellowship with the intention of studying other aspects of the ancient world, including archaeology, ancient history, comparative literature, historical linguistics, or ancient philosophy, without due attention to the literature of ancient Greece and Rome.
3. Applicants for the Fellowship must apply to their choice of British colleges or universities independently; the Committee does not offer any assistance in this process or assume any responsibility for ensuring that the recipient of the Fellowship obtains entrance to a program. Candidates are strongly advised to begin the formal application process as early as possible. Item twelve on the application form requests information about other fellowships for which the candidate is competing in addition to the Pearson. It is often the case that students applying for the Pearson Fellowship are also candidates for other postgraduate fellowships, including the Rhodes and Marshall, which provide substantially more financial support than the Pearson. Candidates who receive a Rhodes, Marshall, or Gates Fellowship must withdraw from consideration for the Pearson Fellowship.
The components of the application are:
1. An application form (pending revision)
2. A personal statement divided into two parts. In the first part, candidates should discuss their personal background, development as a scholar, and aspirations beyond their undergraduate experience. Naturally, each aspect of these statements should address the candidate’s specific interests in Classics. In the second part, candidates should focus more specifically on why they wish to pursue a year of study in England or Scotland, how this experience fits into their overall goals as a scholar, and what their proposed plan of study will be. Combined, these statements should not exceed 1,000 words in length. Candidates should provide a word total at the end of each part.
3. A sample of the candidate’s writing on a topic in Classics, preferably from a senior thesis or similar research project. For the candidate’s initial application, they should include an 8-10 page writing sample, double-spaced, including notes and bibliography. Shortlisted candidates must provide a 17-20 page writing sample, double-spaced, including notes and bibliography.
4. Transcripts from the candidate’s college or university. Candidates should obtain a transcript from any institution they have attended for one or more years. Separate transcripts to account for a semester abroad or summer program are not necessary. Candidates should, however, make note of these experiences in the application form or personal statement, if a record of their performance does not appear on a college transcript.
5. Three confidential letters of recommendation, including a letter from a faculty member who knows your work in Classics well. (Please note that item thirteen on the application form calls for the names and addresses of those who will be writing letters of recommendation.) The application materials include a form, which candidates must provide to their recommenders and which must accompany the letters.
Applicants themselves should submit the first four items listed above as email attachments (.pdf files preferred) to Dr. Helen Cullyer, the Executive Director of the SCS: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Subject line of each email sent by the applicant should read as follows: “Pearson Application – [Name of Candidate]”. In addition, applicants need to request three letters of recommendation that referees will send directly to the SCS Office, also as email attachments. Please Note: The application form contains a document that applicants should review, sign, and scan and provide to each referee in electronic form. Referees should submit that form along with letters of recommendation (both as attachments, preferably as .pdf files) to Dr. Cullyer (email@example.com).
The interviews themselves generally last about thirty minutes. During this time the members of the Committee will discuss the candidate’s background and professional aspirations with particular attention to the opportunity of studying abroad as a Pearson Fellow. These encounters are meant to be engaging and productive experiences. Candidates should know that the Committee makes every effort to create a comfortable, genial environment. It is not the goal of the Committee to overwhelm the candidates, but rather to give them the opportunity to present themselves, their academic accomplishments, and their professional goals in the most favorable light. Candidates should view their time with the Committee as a chance to share information that the written application and letters of recommendation cannot adequately convey. The Committee, in turn, will seek to evaluate the strengths of the candidates and confirm those aspects of their applications that led to their being selected as finalists. Following the interviews, the Committee will take time to deliberate and select the recipient. The Chair of the Committee will then inform the finalists of the Committee’s decision that afternoon.
Important Dates for the 2022-2023 Application Cycle
- By 11:59pm Eastern Time on November 6, 2023, candidates should submit the application form and all other required materials, including an 8-10 page writing sample, double-spaced, including notes and bibliography. All materials should be sent electronically to the Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- By December 7, 2023 candidates will be notified whether they are on the short-list for the January 2022 virtual interviews.
- By 11:59pm Eastern Time on December 18, 2023, short-listed candidates must provide a 17-20 page writing sample, double-spaced, including notes and bibliography..
- In January 2024 short-listed candidates will be interviewed via Zoom by the committee, and candidates will be notified of the committee’s decision shortly after these interviews. In addition, the short-listed candidates’ registration fees to the January 2024 meeting of the Society for Classical Studies will be waived and they will receive funding to attend the 2024 conference.
Studying in England and Scotland
Pearson Fellows have established a very favorable record and are welcome, space permitting, at most universities. Below are listed some sources of information, which candidates should consult both while preparing their personal statement as part of the application process and, should one receive the fellowship, in making arrangements for study abroad. Naturally, this list is not exhaustive, but it does reflect the fact that, to date, Pearson Fellows have all studied at Cambridge, Oxford, St. Andrews, or the University of Reading. Further, applicants should keep in mind the generous offers from the Classics Faculties at Cambridge and Oxford described above. For a more complete list of opportunities in England and Scotland, candidates and their faculty sponsors should consult a list of Classics and Classics-related departments in the UK compiled by the Classical Association: http://www.classicalassociation.org/departments.html.
Cambridge - The main source of information is the Graduate Studies Prospectus, which is available from the Board of Graduate Studies. Candidates may request a printed edition by email at the following address: email@example.com The prospectus is also available online at the following URL: https://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk (Depending on their plans of study, candidates might also find relevant information in the Cambridge University Undergraduate Prospectus, which is available from Cambridge Admissions Office, firstname.lastname@example.org ; and online at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/.)
Oxford - Candidates should refer to the Graduate Studies Prospectus, which is available from the Graduate Admissions Office. Candidates may also request a printed edition by email at: email@example.com . The prospectus is available online at: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/. (Again, depending on their plans of study, candidates might benefit from consulting the University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus, which is available from Oxford Colleges Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The prospectus is available online at: http://www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/prospectus/.)
St. Andrews Candidates should consult the School of Classics at: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/classics/;
the “Postgraduate Application and Admission” online at: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/apply/postgraduate/;
the Student Handbook, available online at: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/studenthandbook/.
Reading - Candidates should consult the web site of the Department of Classics (http://www.reading.ac.uk/classics/) as well as the information posted by the University for students interested in studying there (http://www.reading.ac.uk/study/)
Some programs at Cambridge and Oxford lead to a degree requiring more than one year of study. In these cases, Pearson Fellows may fall into the category of visiting students.The application process is usually the same, however, but the deadlines for application as a visiting student come much later. (For specific information please consult the following URL’s: (for Cambridge) : http://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/directory/visitors and (for Oxford) http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/new/visiting_other/.
English and Scottish universities offer a range of graduate programs that students can complete in a year of full-time study. Cambridge and Oxford, for example, offer an MSt and MPhil; St. Andrews offers both a diploma and M.Litt. program; and King’s College London and University College London offer an MA.
Below are the past recipients listed according to year in which they held the fellowship along with their undergraduate institutions and their places of study as Pearson Fellows. Also, as mentioned above, a stipulation of the Fellowship calls for the recipients to submit reports of their experiences to the SCS upon completion of their years abroad. References to these announcements appear below. If candidates would like to speak or correspond with a former Pearson Fellow, they should contact the Chair of the Committee, who can provide appropriate contact information.
1990-1991 Beth Severy-Hoven, Bryn Mawr; New College, Oxford, now Associate Professor and Chair of Classics at Macalester College
1991-1992 Melissa M. Powell, University of California, Berkeley; King’s College, Cambridge
1992-1993 Stephen Thielke, Reed College; King’s College, Cambridge
1993-1994 No award
1994-1995 Christopher Ulbrich, UCLA; Magdalen College, Oxford
1995-1996 Catherine Chin, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Corpus Christi, Oxford, now Associate Professor at UC Davis
1996-1997 Emily Tse, University of Pennsylvania; Wolfson College, Cambridge
1997-1998 Diana Gibson, Harvard University; Christ Church, Oxford
1998-1999 Deborah Kamen, Bryn Mawr; New College, Oxford, now Associate Professor at University of Washington
1999-2000 Matthew Carter, Harvard College; Corpus Christi, Oxford, Report: https://classicalstudies.org/sites/default/files/documents/newsletters/August_2000.pdf
2000-2001 D. S. Neil Van Leeuwen, University of Pennsylvania; Christ Church, Oxford, Report: https://classicalstudies.org/sites/default/files/documents/newsletters/August_2001.pdf
2001-2002 Sarah Hamilton Nooter, Amherst College; King’s College, Cambridge, Report: https://classicalstudies.org/sites/default/files/documents/newsletters/October_2002.pdf, now Assistant Professor at University of Chicago
2002-2003 Jacob Mackey, University of Texas; Christ Church, Oxford, Report: https://classicalstudies.org/sites/default/files/documents/newsletters/October_2003.pdf, now Assistant Professor, Department of Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures, Queens College, CUNY.
2003-2004 Robin Elizabeth McGill, University of Georgia; St. Andrews, Report: https://classicalstudies.org/sites/default/files/documents/newsletters/October_2004.pdf,
2004-2005 Lauren Schwartzman, Cornell University, Corpus Christi College, Oxford
2005-2006 John-Paul Young, Columbia University, King’s College, Cambridge
2006-2007 Monica Park, University of Pennsylvania; Corpus Christi, Oxford; Assistant Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt University
2007-2008 Rebecca Miller, Georgetown University; Corpus Christi, Oxford, now Assistant Director of Graduate Student Programming at the Derek Bok Center, Harvard University
2008-2009 Erika Weiberg, Davidson College; Clare College, Cambridge; Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University
2009-2010 Megan Miller, University of North Carolina at Asheville, Lincoln College, Oxford. Report: https://classicalstudies.org/publications-and-research/newsletter/summer-fall-2010-newsletter#Pearson
2010-2011 David Ungvary, Duke University, Corpus Christi, Oxford, now Assistant Professor of Classics at Bard College . Report: https://classicalstudies.org/publications-and-research/newsletter/summer-fall-2011-newsletter#Pearson
2011-2012 Melissa Huber, College of Charleston, University of Reading, now Assistant Professor of History at Providence College
2012-2013 Hannah Silverblank, Haverford College, Brasenose College, Oxford, Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at Haverford College. Report: https://classicalstudies.org/awards-and-fellowships/report-2012-2013-pearson-fellow
2013-2014 Erin Lam, University of California Berkeley, King’s College, Cambridge. PhD Candidate in Department of Classics at University of California, Berkeley
2014-2015 John Mulhall, College of William and Mary, Linacre College, Oxford
2015-2016 Taylor Barinka, University of Michigan, MSt Program in Ancient Philosophy, Oxford
2016-2017 Elizabeth Ridgeway, University of Georgia, Corpus Christi, Oxford. Report: https://classicalstudies.org/awards-and-fellowships/report-2016-2017-pearson-fellow
2017-2018 Peggy Xu, University of Chicago, Trinity College, Cambridge. Report: https://classicalstudies.org/awards-and-fellowships/report-2017-2018-pearson-fellow
2018-2019 Phillip Murray Wilson, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; MSt Program, Corpus Christi College, Oxford
2019-2020 Lauren Nguyen, Columbia University; MSt Program, St. Hilda's College, Oxford
2020-21 Lydia Cawley, Harvard University; MPhil Program, Jesus College, Cambridge
2021-22 Uwade Akhere, Columbia University, MSt Program, The Queen's College, Oxford
2022-2023 Dido Wang, University of California, Los Angeles, MPhil Program, Pembroke College, Cambridge
Current members of the Committee are:
Pearson Fellowship Committee
Charles B. Watson (2021-2024), Chair
David Ungvary (2021-2024)
Jane Sancinito (2022-2025)
Anna Uhlig (2022-2025)
Don Lavigne (2023-2026)
Following is a list of former members of the Committee who are current members of the SCS:
Barbara Weiden Boyd
Walter G. Englert
Thomas D. Frazel
Nicolas P. Gross
S. Douglas Olson
F. Carter Philips
Michele Valerie Ronnick
Richard J. Tarrant