The Aina Birnitis Dissertation-Completion Fellowship in the Humanities for Latvia

The Aina Birnitis Scholarship supports a year of research and writing to help advanced graduate students in the humanities in the last year of Ph.D. dissertation writing. The fellowship provides a $21,000 stipend for one year plus $1,000 for university fees.

The program encourages timely completion of the Ph.D. Applicants should be prepared to complete their dissertation within the period of their fellowship tenure and no later than fifteen months following the initial disbursement of funds unless an extension has been granted by the AABS.

The fellowship is supported by a bequest of Aina Birnitis, a librarian by profession living in Carlton, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The application deadline for academic year 2021-2022 is February 1, 2021. Applications will be evaluated by the AABS 2021-2022 Grants and Awards Committee consisting of AABS VP for Professional Development Dr. Ineta Dabašinskienė, AABS President Dr. Daunis Auers, and AABS Director-at-Large Dr. Andres Kasekamp. Award notifications will be made in April 2021.

AWARD: $21,000 stipend for one year plus $1,000 for university fees


  • The fellowship is open to Ph.D. candidates in the humanities preferably at a university in Latvia, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany or Sweden;
  • Applicants must be citizens and permanent residents of Latvia;
  • Applicants must have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. except the dissertation by the application deadline;
  • Unsuccessful applicants may reapply to this program only once.
Selection Criteria:
  • The intrinsic interest and substantive merit of the proposed project to the field of study in which it is proposed;
  • The clarity of the intellectual agenda and an understanding of the appropriate methodology;
  • The promise of the applicant as revealed in the supporting documentation;
  • The likelihood of the applicant finishing the dissertation;
  • The likelihood of the applicant maintaining residence in Latvia.

Eligible projects

Proposed projects must be in the humanities and related to Latvia or the Latvians. While preference is given to the study of the Latvian language and history, projects in other areas of the humanities: anthropology, archaeology, ethnography, fine and performing arts, folklore, gender studies, history, linguistics, literature, philosophy, and religion, will be considered. Projects in social sciences such as economics, sociology, or political science, as well as in law or international relations are eligible only if they are clearly humanistic (cultural or historical) in content and focus. The dissertation may be written in either Latvian or English.

Guidelines for Application:

1. Complete the online application form.

2. The application must include a proposal packet (single PDF file), which must consist of the following:

a) Proposal (no more than five pages) in English summarizing the proposed thesis of the research;

b) Bibliography (no more than two pages);

c) One-page timeline for the expected completion of dissertation writing and defense;

d) Curriculum Vitae;

e) Officially certified copies of university transcripts;

f) Completed chapter of the dissertation (neither introduction, nor conclusion);

g) A reference letter from the dissertation adviser that includes a statement on the viability of the proposed timeline for completion;

h) A second reference letter from another faculty member.

3. Once the application has been awarded, applicant must submit the following additional documentation:

a) Scanned copies of relevant pages of the passport of the Republic of Latvia indicating citizenship and permanent residence – or equivalent documentation.

Terms of the agreement:

The fellowship will consist of four payments of $4,250 each made every three months, predicated on the recipient showing satisfactory progress in the writing of the dissertation. The fifth payment of $4,000 will be made upon the successful defense of the dissertation as certified by the university. In addition, the award will cover up to $1,000 of university fees related to translation or publication services.

It was the intention of Aina Birnitis that recipients of the fellowships were to maintain their residence in Latvia following the completion of their study. It is expected that the recipient will either reside in Latvia upon completion of the dissertation or return to Latvia within two years following the finishing of the dissertation.

Questions should be addressed to Vice President of Professional Development, Dr. Ineta Dabašinskienė, and sent electronically to

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