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RSA Grants

Research grants for members of the
Renaissance Society of America


Application deadline: 1 December 2015

The application submission site is now closed.

 

Each year the Renaissance Society of America awards a number of grants supporting research projects and publications that aim to advance scholarly knowledge about the Renaissance.

Only RSA members are eligible to apply for these grants (more information about membership requirements). All RSA members who meet the membership length requirements are eligible to apply; all grants are open to members from any country. The deadline for submitting research grant applications is 1 December 2015.

The grants

RSA residential grants for scholars in all disciplines

Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowships for Art Historians

RSA research grants

Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships in Renaissance Art History

Application guidelines

General guidelines for residential grants

Model proposals

Webinar recording

Career stage categories and membership requirements

Selection criteria

Application and award timeline

Research grant award statistics

Frequently asked questions

Past winners


The grants

RSA offers two types of research grants: residential grants supporting one or two months of research at one of the collections with which RSA has a partnership agreement and short-term research grants that may be used to support research at the collection or collections of one’s choice.

Applicants may apply for only one RSA residential grant or Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowship per year, plus any other grant type for which they meet the eligibility requirements. During the submission process applicants are asked to select the grants they wish to be considered for. Those who have received an RSA grant in the past will not be considered for further grants for the same project. Applicants will win at most one grant per year; RSA does not give multiple awards to the same individual in a single year.

All applicants must renew their RSA membership for the following calendar year (2016 memberships will be available 1 November). See below for additional membership criteria, eligibility, and career-stage categories.

Successful applicants must agree to complete the proposed research within 12 months of the award, and submit to RSA a brief report indicating the accomplishments of the grant and including a budget that shows that all funds were spent. Residential grants recipients must report within one month of completing the residency and no more than 18 months after receiving the award.


RSA residential grants for scholars in all disciplines

RSA will award one residential grant to a scholar in any discipline at each of the following six host institutions. For more information about application requirements specific to the host institution and details about the highlights of the collections and residency please click on the name of the grant.

Name Stipend Duration Eligibility Host
The RSA–Bodleian Library Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month All Bodleian Library, Oxford University, UK
The RSA–Patricia H. Labalme Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month All Centro Vittore Branca at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy
The RSA–Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month PhD Centre for Reformation & Renaissance Studies, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The RSA-Folger Grant $5,000 up to 2 months PhD Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC
The RSA-Newberry Grant $2,500 1 month ABD or PhD Newberry Library, Chicago, IL
The RSA-Huntington Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month ABD or PhD Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowships for Art Historians

Thanks to a generous grant from The Kress Foundation, RSA will award one Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowship to an art historian at each of the following nine host institutions. As with the RSA residential grants listed above, members may apply for only one fellowship each year. For more information about application requirements specific to the host institution and details about the highlights of the collections and residency please click on the name of the grant.

Name Stipend Duration Eligibility Host
The RSA–Kress Bodleian Library Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians Bodleian Library, Oxford University, UK
The RSA–Kress Centro Vittore Branca Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians Centro Vittore Branca at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy
The RSA–Kress Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month PhD in art history Centre for Reformation & Renaissance Studies, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The RSA–Kress Folger Grant $5,000 up to 2 months PhD in art history Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC
The RSA–Kress Newberry Grant $2,500 1 month ABD or PhD in art history Newberry Library, Chicago, IL
The RSA–Kress Huntington Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month ABD or PhD in art history Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
The RSA–Kress New York Public Library Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians New York Public Library, New York, NY
The RSA–Kress Beinecke Library Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, CT
The RSA–Kress UCLA Library Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians University of California Los Angeles, Special Collections, Los Angeles, CA

RSA research grants

The Renaissance Society of America will award up to nine RSA research grants in amounts up to $3,000 for intracontinental or $4,000 for intercontinental research travel. For more information about application requirements specific to the host institution and details about the highlights of the collections and residency please click on the name of the grant.

Name Maximum Award Number of grants Eligibility
Paul Oskar Kristeller Grant $3,000/$4,000 3 All
RSA Short-Term Research Grant $3,000/$4,000 9 All. There are usually 3 Senior, 3 Junior, and 3 Non-doctoral awards.
Rensselaer W. Lee Grant $3,000/$4,000 1 Art history


Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships in Art History

Thanks to a generous grant from The Samuel H. Kress Foundation, RSA will award five Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships of $3,000 each. These grants are intended especially to support the costs of publication in the history of art, but in some cases may be awarded for research travel costs for art history projects.

Name Maximum Award Number of grants Eligibility Notes
RSA-Kress Publication / Research Grant $3,000 5 PhD, Art History Primarily to subsidize publication costs; occasionally awarded for research.


Application guidelines (click for a description)

All application materials must be written in English, including any required letters of recommendation. Aside from letters of recommendation required for Newberry Library and Folger Shakespeare Library residential grant applications, letters of recommendation are not required and are not accepted by the proposal submission software.

Applicants for all grants submit the following:

  • Project description
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Budget

Applicants for residential grants submit the following:

  • Project description
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Budget
  • Collection description

Applicants for Folger residential grants only submit the following:

  • Project Description
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Budget
  • Collection Description
  • Two letters of recommendation

Applicants for Newberry residential grants only submit the following:

  • Project description
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Budget
  • Collection description
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Project description and library resources statement summary

General guidelines for residential grants:

  1. The research proposal must be relevant to specific library collections and should indicate primary collection resources that are relevant to it.
  2. The fellowship must be used for full-time onsite research during the period of residency at the specific library, working on its collection.
  3. The residency must begin on or after 1 July of the year awarded and end on or before 30 June of the following year, and may not be subdivided into more than one continuous period of residency at the library.

Model proposals

Beginning in the 2015 grant cycle, we posted several examples of successful application essays, as well as excerpts of the evaluations provided by the Grants committee. These examples are only intended to be representative; they are not to be slavishly imitated, nor do they provide a proven formula for success.


Webinar recording

Follow this link to view the recording of our grants webinar, which took place Thursday, 20 November 2014. To view the video you will need to enter your email and name; the grants committee will not see that information. Please note that Kress applicants do need to be Art Historians.


Research grant award statistics

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Total Grants Available 16 18 18 22 24 33
Total Applicants 83 68 98 101 134 146
% winning applications 19% 26% 18% 22% 18% 19%


Career stage categories and membership requirements


  • These awards will support doctoral candidates, pre-university teachers, and other applicants lacking doctorates.

    Applicants at the non-doctoral rank must be members of RSA for at least one year at the time of application (2015) plus renew membership for the grant year (2016; membership renewal available 1 November). Please note that applications that do not meet these eligibility requirements will not be considered by the grants committee.


  • These awards will support assistant professors; associate professors in the first two years of appointment at that rank; temporary, adjunct, and/or part-time professors; and junior independent scholars holding a PhD.

    Applicants at the junior scholar rank must be members of RSA for at least three consecutive years at the time of application (2013, 2014, 2015) plus renew membership for the grant year (2016; membership renewal available 1 November). Please note that applications that do not meet these eligibility requirements will not be considered by the grants committee.


  • These awards will support associate professors with more than two years at that rank, full professors, retired professors, and senior independent scholars.

    Applicants at the senior scholar rank must be members of RSA for at least three consecutive years at the time of application (2013, 2014, 2015) plus renew membership for the grant year (2016; membership renewal available 1 November). Please note that applications that do not meet these eligibility requirements will not be considered by the grants committee.


Selection criteria

The Executive Board will appoint a jury drawn from different disciplines within Renaissance studies. Applications will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  1. The scholarly quality of the proposal (scope, theoretical framework, and grounding in the relevant scholarly literature) and the project’s potential to make a significant and original contribution to knowledge about the Renaissance.
  2. The scholarly record and achievements of the applicant.
  3. The demonstrated need for access to research materials and the feasibility of accomplishing this research in the given time frame; or, in the case of Kress grants only, the worthiness of the project for publication support.

The jury reserves the right to award fewer or more grants in one category, but only if there are insufficient applications of merit in that category or another category.


Application and award timeline

  • 1 December: applications due.
  • By 28 February: all winners notified.
  • By 31 December 2016: winners expected to complete residency, research trip, or publication-related spending (for publication subventions only).

Frequently asked questions


  • Yes. Student applicants must be members for the current year and the grant year (2015 and renew for 2016). All other applicants must have consecutive membership for three years plus the grant year (2013, 2014, 2015 and renew for 2016). There are no exceptions to this requirement.

    Applicants at the non-doctoral rank must be members of RSA for at least one year at the time of application (2015) plus renew membership for the grant year (2016, membership renewal available 1 November). Please note that applications that do not meet these eligibility requirements will not be considered by the grants committee.


  • You can review your dues payments by signing in to the RSA website and going to Membership Info. You will see a list of all dues payments in the list of transactions. If you have an awaiting auto-bill transaction, then your membership is set to renew automatically for 2015 as long as the credit card on file has not changed or expired. Auto-bills are transacted on December 31.


  • No, RSA does not accept applications in languages other than English.


  • Please choose the rank that best describes your current professional status. We understand that the language may not precisely match.


  • You may indicate in your project description that you only want to be considered for a residential grant if you wish. Beginning with the 2015 grant cycle, all unsuccessful applicants for residential grants are automatically considered for non-residential grants unless the applicant’s project description specifically indicates otherwise.


  • No. Applicants may apply for only one residential grant per year.


  • To include this material, please incorporate it into your project description, as quoted extracts or otherwise as you see fit. The application does not allow additional uploads other than your CV.


  • Please include your total budget as well as line items for specific expenses. An RSA grant may be used for the following expenses: airfare, local transportation (trains, buses, taxis), accommodations, food and meals, and any library or archive fees associated with your research, such as charges for digital photography and photocopies. Anticipated expenses should be reasonable and customary. The Grants Committee takes a dim view of wildly inflated expense estimates. The amount of the grant award does not change depending upon the budget; thus the budget is intended only to provide an estimate of the expenses.


  • You may resend the invitation through the Reference Portal in the online application. You may also want to send a polite reminder directly by email or phone. Remember that your recommender cannot view your application, so you will want to provide that material directly to the recommender.


  • We do not accept recommendation letters for grants that do not require them.


  • The RSA research grants are competitive, but less competitive than some others (e.g., NEH Summer Stipends). There is no precise formula to determine your chance of winning a grant, as each year there is a different applicant pool, and a different Grants Committee.


  • It is true that projects in art history, history, and literature have received a majority of grants in previous years, but it is also true that a majority of RSA members conduct research in those areas. Projects pertaining to Italy have received a disproportionate share of grants in recent years, but the Grants committee usually receives more proposals for Italy than for other geographic areas.


  • Yes. The Grants Committee looks for a balance between graduate students, junior scholars, and senior scholars when making awards, but there is no precise formula for distribution of awards. The grants go to the strongest proposals each year.


  • Yes. Scholars at liberal arts colleges or community colleges, and independent scholars, are encouraged to apply, and do regularly win research grants.


  • A good proposal makes a clear, concise, and cogent argument for the significance and viability of the project. It should briefly address the historiography, to show that the applicant is aware of previous work in the area, and explain how the proposed work will enhance scholarship in Renaissance studies. It should demonstrate familiarity with the sources to be studied. It is not necessary to explain when/where the work will be published, though that information should be included if available.


  • Members can live or work in any country. The research can be conducted in any country.


  • You can win only one RSA grant in a calendar year. The RSA grant can be combined with grants from other institutions, although not for identical expenses on an identical project at an identical time (i.e., no double-dipping).


  • Some applicants don’t meet the membership requirement (1 year for non-doctoral scholars, 3 consecutive years otherwise); some applicants apply past the deadline; some applicants won an RSA grant during the previous two years.


  • The Grants Chair is nominated for a three-year term by the RSA Selection Committee and elected by the RSA membership. The Grants Chair, in consultation with the RSA office, selects from the RSA membership the other 2-3 members of the Grants Committee each year for one-year terms, seeking senior scholars who will cover a range of disciplines and geographical areas. The full committee is then approved by the RSA Executive Board. All members of the Grants Committee are volunteers.


  • Yes. Beginning in the 2015 grant cycle, we will post several examples of successful application essays, as well as excerpts of the evaluations provided by the Grants committee. These examples are only intended to be representative; they are not to be slavishly imitated, nor do they provide a proven formula for success.


  • RSA anticipates that grant winners will be contacted by late February. Upon confirming with all winners, notices will be sent to all applicants that did not receive funding.


  • You should plan to use the award by 31 December 2015. If you need to conduct the research for a grant or complete the publication preparations for a Kress subvention after 31 December please contact the RSA office to request an extension.


  • Before receiving the award check you will need to return a copy of a signed agreement that sets out the rules for grant money use, timeline for grant completion, and the process of filing an expense report after the research has been completed. After the conclusion of the research, no more than one month after your return, you should prepare a report that includes a narrative description of the accomplishments of the grant and a budget with receipts showing how all funds were spent. Any unspent funds should be returned to RSA immediately, with your report.


  • Funds usually arrive within one month of the RSA office receiving a signed agreement form from the grant winner. This means that winners should have their checks in hand by 31 March.


Past Winners

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