The purpose of the Graduate Fellowship Program is to offer a unique opportunity for a select group of physics doctoral students to spend a minimum period of 5 months (and up to 6 months) at the KITP, participate in KITP research programs, and broaden their pursuit of theoretical physics in areas of current research.
Graduate education in physics has suffered in recent years from over-specialization. Students often concentrate very early in their studies on a particular field of physics, to the exclusion of other fields. Even within a given field, they often concentrate on a very narrow direction of research, centered on the interests of their advisor and the topic of their thesis. Having completed the thesis, the new postdoc must specialize even more in order to publish and not perish. Many physicists have decried this tendency towards specialization and called for efforts to broaden graduate education in physics. They, and we, believe that broadly educated and trained research physicists are necessary in a rapidly changing scientific world.
We believe that the KITP can play a significant role in the effort to broaden graduate education in theoretical physics. To this end we support up to seven graduate students at a time to spend either the period of our fall programs (July through December) or the period of our spring programs (January through June) at the KITP, participating in our programs and broadening their knowledge of physics in many areas at the frontiers of research. There is some slight flexibility in starting and ending dates, but participants are expected to stay for the entire period for which they have been accepted.
In a semester at the KITP, suitably prepared graduate students can significantly broaden their knowledge of physics and meet many research physicists working at the frontiers of knowledge.
The KITP is committed to hosting a diverse group of scientists as graduate fellows.
There are two ways to be considered for a KITP Graduate Fellowship. A candidate may apply directly or be nominated by their PhD advisor. In either case, the candidate will provide KITP with a CV and a 500-word essay that answers the question: "How will working at KITP during the 5-6 months of this Graduate Fellow appointment advance my development as a physicist?" The candidate's adviser must provide a letter of recommendation. In the case of a nomination, the nomination letter serves as the letter of recommendation. The nominator should describe the student, explain why they are suitable for such a program, and note how they may contribute to diversity at KITP. The nominator can also note any synergies with KITP programs that are occuring during the relevant period. Please also acknowledge the minimum 5-month stay required for this program. Additional letters of support are not necessary.
Graduate Fellows must remain paid employees of their home institutions, and are only provided KITP support in the form of reimbursement for local expenses (lodging and meals) up to a maximum of $2300/month. Some assistance with roundtrip travel between the Fellow's home institution and the KITP may also be provided.
For participation in the winter/spring term, applications or nominations must be received by September 15 of the previous fall. For participation in the summer/fall term, applications or nominations must be received by February 1 of that year.