Visiting Ferris Professorships in Journalism/McGraw Professorships in Writing

The Humanities Council at Princeton University welcomes proposals from journalists and writers who wish to teach seminars in journalism as visiting Ferris Professors of Journalism, or seminars in other kinds of nonfiction related to journalism as visiting McGraw Professors of Writing. Both residential (full-time) and commuting (part-time) positions are available. Appointments are for one semester only: fall 2018 (September 1 through January 31) or spring 2019 (February 1 through June 30).

About the Visiting Professorships

Residential appointments are open to applicants who reside beyond a 60-mile radius of Princeton. Visiting professors in residence relocate to Princeton for a semester, taking a leave from daily journalism to teach. They are required to spend a significant portion of the week on campus. In 2018–19 the stipend for residential appointments is $90,000 for one semester.

Applicants who reside within a 60-mile radius of Princeton (including New York City and Philadelphia) typically are eligible only for commuting appointments, in which they commute to campus once per week for the 12 weeks of the term, as well as the week of Reading Period. In 2018–19 the stipend for commuting appointments is $36,000 for one semester.

About the Seminars

Seminars meet once per week for three hours, with enrollment limited to 16 students. Students are expected to devote four to six hours per week to class preparation. Every one or two weeks they submit assignments, which are critiqued by the professor during one-on-one writing conferences with the students. Professors often invite guest speakers and arrange a class visit to their newspaper or magazine.

In these seminars, we do not seek to duplicate courses in academic departments, but rather to offer the insights and experiences that only practicing journalists and writers can provide. The most successful seminars offer frequent, short, hands-on writing and reporting assignments and more writing than reading.

Most seminars fall under one of these broad course rubrics:

  • The Literature of Fact
  • Investigative Journalism
  • Politics and the Media
  • The Media and Social Issues
  • International News
  • Audio Journalism
  • Digital Journalism
  • Visual Journalism (storytelling through video, photography, multimedia, and/or data visualization)
  • Writing about (Culture, Film, Ideas, Law, Medicine, Science, etc.)
How to Apply

Applications must be submitted online via AHIRE for the fall and spring semesters of the 2018–19 academic year.

Applicants should prepare to submit:

  • A résumé or CV that includes employment history, recent publications, and at least one reference we may contact.
  • A cover letter that describes your interest in teaching and states your preference for a residential or commuting appointment. Include in your cover letter one link to a favorite published article that you have written. You may also include one link to an audio or video file.
  • A proposal for a seminar related to journalism or nonfiction writing. Seminar proposals should include:
    —A short course description for the course catalog (75 words);
    —One or two paragraphs about the focus of the course;
    —Specific topics for each of the 12 weeks of the course;
    —A sample reading list of no more than six titles (books, articles, websites, etc.); and,
    —Possible writing assignments (typically 5–8 short pieces, one of which might be developed into a longer project to be submitted during the Reading Period).

Former Ferris and McGraw Professors are eligible to propose seminars that include leading a class trip over fall or spring break, during which students do on-the-ground reporting from an off-campus site (domestic or international).


Applications must be received via AHIRE by 11:59pm EST on October 25, 2017.

Essential Qualifications
  • Applicants should have achieved distinction in journalism or other kinds of nonfiction writing;
  • Must be able to communicate their experience effectively to students, peers, and members of the community;
  • Must be a practicing journalist—a reporter, editor, producer, journalistic historian, cultural critic, or documentarian;
  • Must have at least five years’ experience working at a news organization (print, radio, television, or digital) or writing regularly for major news publications, including in the year immediately prior to submitting an application;
  • Must not have a tenure-track or administrative position at an academic institution; and,
  • Must have a bachelor’s degree.
Additional Notes
  • The selection committee aims to complete its work by the end of December.
  • We cannot confirm receipt of applications nor can we accept applications after the deadline.
  • Questions may be addressed to Margo Bresnen, Journalism Program Manager, at mbresnen@princeton.edu.

Ferris Prizes for Outstanding Undergraduate Projects in Journalism

Prizes of $250 that recognize excellent projects submitted by students in journalism seminars during the academic year, on any topic and in any medium of journalism, including audio and video presentations.

Journalism professors are invited to nominate the best papers or other work produced in their courses. The selection committee consists of faculty members and journalists. The prizes will be awarded during the summer to projects nominated in the previous fall and spring semesters.

Criteria for Judgment
  • Originality
  • Depth of insight
  • Skill of presentation
  • Contribution to a reader’s understanding of the topic
  • Short pieces receive equal consideration with longer ones

John McPhee ’53 Awards for Summer Projects in Independent Journalism

Awards of up to $3,000 meant to recognize promising student journalists and to help underwrite the cost of long-form, nonfiction writing projects of at least six weeks in duration.


Princeton freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who have completed at least one journalism course at Princeton may apply.

How to Apply

Prepare the following:

  • An official transcript confirming that the applicant has completed at least one journalism course at Princeton;
  • A résumé or CV;
  • Two journalism writing samples (published or class work);
  • A proposed budget outlining specifically how the applicant would expect to spend the award funds (include travel and living expenses, if appropriate);
  • The name(s) of one or more references, including at least one member of the Princeton faculty who would advise the applicant on the project from inception to completion;
  • A letter of commitment from the applicant’s faculty advisor, confirming that the advisor will meet or video conference with the applicant once pre-departure, two or three times during reporting, and once for a post-project writing conference;
  • A letter of commitment to publish from an executive at a news outlet, on company letterhead (optional); and,
  • A proposal letter of no more than 1,000 words. Subjects that would be appropriate to touch on in the letter include:
    —The general topic matter the proposed article would cover, and why the subject would be of interest to readers and of importance to society;
    —The maximum story that reasonably could result from the applicant’s efforts and, if unforeseen challenges arise, the minimum story the applicant is confident would result;
    —Human sources the applicant would seek to interview, and why;
    —Primary documents and data the applicant would seek to gather and review, and why;
    —Places the applicant would travel to during his or her reporting, and why; and,
    —Where the resulting article might be published and the size of the publication’s readership.

Submit the application through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE).


Application deadline in 2018 is May 11.

A committee of faculty and journalists from the Humanities Council will review applications and select recipient(s).

Post-Project Requirement

Award recipients are required to submit a two-page report on their project along with a copy of the resulting article.

Summer 2017 Recipients

In 2017, John McPhee ’53 Awards for Summer Projects in Independent Journalism provided funding to three students to pursue long-form, nonfiction writing projects:

  • Mohammad Adnan, Class 2019, “Italy’s South Asian Diaspora”
  • Julia Case-Levine, Class of 2018, “Refugee Communities in Sweden”
  • Jack Lohmann, Class of 2019, “Politics of Refugees”

Ferris Summer Grants for Student Internships in Journalism

Grants of up to $3,000, funded by the endowment of Edwin F. Ferris, Class of 1899, to support summer internships in writing, publishing, and journalism, in both print and digital media. The goal is to help students acquire experience in news organizations, including television networks, and in companies that publish books, magazines, or journals. Since many internships are unpaid or only modestly remunerated, these grants are designed to help defray some of the expenses associated with these summer experiences.

Internships must take place in a recognized organization for at least six weeks, typically eight weeks.


All Princeton freshmen, sophomores, and juniors may apply.

How to Apply

Submit the application through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE).

In the documents section of the application, upload the offer letter from the organization providing the internship. The offer letter should include details of the internship and the amount of financial support, if any, the organization will provide.


There are two rounds of awards. Application deadlines in 2018 are April 30 and May 18.

A committee of faculty and journalists from the Humanities Council will review applications and select recipients. In assessing proposals, the committee weighs financial need, academic standing, and the potential benefits of the internship.

Post-Project Requirement

Grant recipients are required to submit a two-page report after their internship. The grants are paid in two installments: 90% (up to $2,700) in June, and the 10% balance in September after submission of the report about the internship.

Summer 2017 Recipients

In 2017, Ferris Summer Grants for Student Internships in Journalism went to 19 Princeton undergraduates:

  • Mashad Arora, Class of 2020—Forbes India (Mumbai)
  • Eli Berman, Class of 2020—PRI’s Afropop Worldwide (New York City)
  • Christian Bischoff, Class of 2019—research with The New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos (Washington, D.C.)
  • Rohana Chase, Class of 2019—Bellevue Literary Press (New York City)
  • Robert Cortes, Class of 2019—Nikkei Asian Review (Tokyo)
  • Marina Finley, Class 2019—American Chamber of Commerce (Taipei)
  • Katherine Fleming, Class of 2019—Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (Boston)
  • Carolyn Kelly, Class of 2018—Booklist Publications (Chicago)
  • Megan Laubach, Class of 2018—David R. Godine, Publisher (Boston)
  • Arthur Li, Class of 2020—The New York Times (Beijing)
  • Lavinia Liang, Class 2018—TIME, Inc. (New York City)
  • Crystal Liu, Class of 2019—Exberliner (Berlin)
  • Alice Longenbach, Class 2018—PEN America (New York City)
  • Kevin McElwee, Class of 2018—The GroundTruth Project (Moscow and Washington, D.C.)
  • Briana Pagano, Class of 2018—Emma Sweeney Agency (New York City)
  • Ben Perelmuter, Class of 2019—The New York Review of Books (New York City)
  • Iris Samuels, Class of 2019—research with The New York Times’ Elaine Sciolino (Paris)
  • Logan Sander, Class of 2018—China Post (Taipei)
  • Khaled Tinubu, Class of 2019—The Paideia Institute (Rome)