Robert Walser and Susan McClary Fellowship


Intended to diversify the field of scholars working on American music, the Robert Walser and Susan McClary Fellowship is awarded to an outstanding Ph.D. candidate at a U.S. or Canadian university who is a member of a historically underrepresented group in the field. Applications are especially welcome from African Americans, Native Americans, Native Pacific Islanders, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans, and, from Canada, aboriginal peoples and visible minorities (as defined by Canadian legislation). The Society embraces and promotes diversity of race, ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, and religion, among other expressions, among our membership and throughout all Society activities.

The award recognizes academic achievement and future promise in the study of American music. Upon completion of the endowment, the fellowship program will be expanded to support two full-year fellowships.
This fellowship, granted biennially, provides a twelve-month stipend of $22,000 for Ph.D. candidates enrolled full time at their educational institution. It is not deferrable or renewable; it must be accepted during the academic year following the application submission. It cannot be held concurrently with a comparable year-long fellowship unless the SAM award is accepted on an honorary basis. The fellowship does not provide payment of tuition or fees. The society encourages the student’s home institution to provide tuition fellowships and fee waivers during the fellowship period. The winner is selected before the Society’s Annual Conference in the spring; a public announcement is made at the conference.



To apply for the fellowship, you must be:

  • A full-time graduate student at a U.S. or Canadian university with proof of good standing at your educational institution.
  • A member of a historically underrepresented group in the field;
  • A Ph.D. candidate (achieved before the application deadline).
  • Writing a dissertation on American music (defined broadly by the Society of American Music as “music of the Americas”).


Application Requirements

In addition to the application form, the applicant must supply the following materials:

  • A personal statement of no more than 5 double-spaced pages that describes your musical/academic background, your interest in American music, and your research plans for the fellowship period.
  • A copy of your dissertation proposal.
  • A writing sample of no more than 30 double-spaced pages in length.
  • Three letters of reference from faculty familiar with your work. Your letters should be sent separately to the committee chair. One letter must include the official date when you achieved Ph.D. candidacy and include information about your expected level of institutional funding for the fellowship year.


Deadline for Next Fellowship Application

November 1, 2020 


Past Fellows

Year Fellow
2018 Nadia Chana, “Urgent Listening: Embodied Practices as a Response to Ecological Crisis”
2019 Sunaina Kale, ““‘Made in the Islands’: Performing Indigeneity in Hawaiian Reggae”
2019 Felipe Ledesma-Núñez, “Sound and Singing/Dancing in the Rural Colonial Andes, 1560-1700: Demons, Sorceries, Idolatries” (honorary)
2019 Allie Martin, “Sonic Intersections: Listening to Gentrification in Washington, DC” (honorary)