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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), is an opportunity for recent PhDs in China Studies to conduct a two-year study on China under the guidance of established scholars and simultaneously teach courses on China at top Indian universities.

The fully-funded fellowship is open to scholars who have either completed their PhD anytime after 2012 or will complete their PhD by Spring 2022 Semester, with their research specifically focussed 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 fellowship is also open to scholars of China Studies who are teaching at Indian universities and wish to pursue novel research on China while continuing their teaching engagement at their current university. Applicants should have a working knowledge of Mandarin, sufficient for academic research.

The second cohort of the China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship will consist of 6 fellows who will be placed across different Indian universities and who will start their fellowship tenure as early as the beginning of Spring 2022 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.

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 neighbouring 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 6
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 – May 13, 2021

Closing date (Round 1) – August 31, 2021

Closing date (Round 2) – September 30, 2021

Note: Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis. Applications for Fellowship Period starting Spring 2022 Semester onwards should be submitted latest by August 31, 2021. 


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, 2012.

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

Note – The Fellowship is also open to scholars of China Studies who wish to continue teaching at their current university and are looking for an opportunity to conduct novel research on China. In this scenario, apart from the above mentioned criteria, the scholar will have to teach at least one course on China every semester at their current university, throughout the duration of their fellowship. If selected, the scholar will receive only the research award.

Fellowship Timeline





Application start date

May 13, 2021


Round 1 deadline (Spring 2022 semester)

August 31, 2021


Round 2 deadline (For Spring 2022/Fall 2022 semester)

September 30, 2021


Interviews of Round 1 applicants (for Fall 2021 semester)

September 15, 2021 – September 30, 2021


Start of semester (Round 1 applicants)

January 2022


First review (Round 1 applicants)

January 2023


Final presentation (Round 1 applicants)

January 2024

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.

Following renowned scholars serve on the Fellowship Committee of China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship:



Selection Process

The applications for the China Studies Post-doctoral Fellowship would be assessed on a rolling basis. The selection process for Round 1 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 (certification as well as proof of utilisation of language sources in prior research work).


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.

Our current list of host institutions are as follows –

  • Shiv Nadar University

  • Christ University

  • Indian Institute of Management, Shillong

  • Ahmedabad University

  • Jadavpur University

  • KJ Somaiya University

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.

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