Prizes, Grants and Opportunities

History of Art & Architecture

Harvard University Gordon Parks Foundation Scholarship

This annually awarded scholarship supports a Harvard undergraduate or graduate student who is researching a topic that explores the relationship between race and aesthetics, racial equity, social justice, and visual culture in American life toward preparation for a senior thesis project or a doctoral thesis in the B.A. and Ph.D. degree programs offered by the Departments of African and African American Studies and the History of Art and Architecture (separately or jointly). Generally, these funds would be used by an undergraduate during the summer months—to support the research fieldwork of a rising senior—and by a graduate student at any time in the academic year. Proposals to work in the archives of the Gordon Parks Foundation in New York are also welcome.

The scholarship honors the legacy of photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks and acknowledges the importance of visual literacy and the nexus of race and art, fostering new academic inquiry by students registered for degree programs offered by the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The Gordon Parks Foundation has generously indicated scholarship support at the level of $7,500 per annum. The full amount will be awarded to one student in each award cycle.


Applications should comprise: 1. 1,000-word project description; 2. schedule and itinerary (1 p.); 3. budget (1 p.); and, 4. a letter of recommendation about the proposed research project from a faculty adviser and/or professor who has taught the applicant. The 2022 deadline is April 11th with the recipient announced by April 25th. The application should be submitted as a single pdf, with the recommendation letter—sent separately by the recommender—to Marcus Mayo, Undergraduate Coordinator, Department of History of Art and Architecture (

The scholarship-winning student will be featured on the Gordon Parks Foundation website as well as the websites and social media accounts of the Departments of AAAS and HAA.

The Matthew Abramson '96 Prize for Best Senior Thesis in History of Art and Architecture

The Matthew Abramson '96 Prize is awarded by faculty vote of the Department of History of Art and Architecture to the one student of this department whose thesis has been determined as "Best Senior Thesis" as based primarily upon the combined numerical score of the grades submitted by all readers, with subsequent discussion and vote in the department honors meeting.
In the Academic Year, 1999-2000, The Department of History of Art and Architecture was first able to award a newly endowed departmental prize for senior thesis writing. Matthew Abramson, a History of Art and Architecture Concentrator of the Harvard College Class of '96 felt strongly of the significance and personal reward gained through the research and writing of a Senior Honors Thesis. As a gesture to encourage following concentrators to engage in this endeavor, he established an endowment to provide a prize to be awarded annually to that student whose thesis has been judged 'Best Written' as determined through discussion and vote by the faculty of this department. The decision for this prize is made by the faculty in the final meeting of the year when honors recommendations are discussed.

The Matthew Abramson '96 Traveling Fellowship

An endowed fund established by the Abramson family in honor of the memory of their son, to support travel for thesis research in the Department of History of Art and Architecture. Administered by the Department of History of Art and Architecture.

The Joseph Pulitzer. Jr. '36 Beneficiary Aid Fund

The Pulitzer Fund supports thesis writers in the History of Art and Architecture Department who need to travel during their senior year to complete their thesis research. Administered by the Department of History of Art and Architecture.

The Claire Martin Fairman History of Art and Architecture Undergraduate Thesis Prize

A bequest from the Estate of Claire Martin Fairman and the gifts of the Fairman family establish the Claire Martin Fairman History of Art and Architecture Undergraduate Thesis Prize in memory of Claire Martin Fairman, AB 1954. The Fairman Prize will be awarded to that thesis which is found, by faculty vote, to be most worthy, and of a topic focusing on modern art.

James Sloss Ackerman Senior Thesis Prize in Architecture

The prize is awarded to a senior thesis of the highest merit on a topic in the history, theory, and/or design of architecture. The award is voted by the Department of History of Art and Architecture faculty at its annual honors meeting. The wide range of subjects and approaches to the study of architecture, across fields and time periods, appropriately reflects the legacy of Professor James Sloss Ackerman (1919-2016) and his rigorous and innovative scholarship. Ackerman joined the Faculty at Harvard University in 1960, where he taught and advised generations of students and served as the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Fine Arts from 1983 until his retirement in 1990. His methodology situated architecture within the broader contexts of cultural and intellectual history. From the mid-1960s, Ackerman was the most widely read architectural historian in America, and his seminal studies on Michelangelo (1961-64) and Palladio (1964) appealed to both specialists and non-specialists alike. Ackerman’s last book, Origins, Invention, Revision: Studying the History of Art and Architecture (2016), presented essays on diverse topics including reflections on his own interest in architecture which was formed through his military service in Italy in World War II. During his career, Ackerman received many prestigious honors and awards, culminating in 2001 with the Balzan Prize for achievement in architectural history and urbanism and the Paul Kristeller citation of the Renaissance Society of America for lifetime achievement.

The James Sloss Ackerman Senior Thesis Prize in Architecture is supported through a gift made by Ackerman’s family, friends, students, and colleagues.

Harvard College

These prizes are described in greater detail (and their deadlines are provided) on the FAS Prize Office web site.
Below is a selection of prizes and grants. Other prizes listed there may also be relevant to History of Art & Architecture students.

Bowdoin Prize

Awarded for essays of high literary merit in any field of learning. Essays that form parts of theses may be offered in competition, but must be limited to not more than 7,500 words.

James R. and Isabel D. Hammond Prize

Awarded by the Committee on Latin American and Iberian Studies for the best undergraduate thesis on a subject dealing with the Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas. 

Hoopes Prize

Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize for Excellence in the Work of the Undergraduates and the Art of Teaching. The Hoopes prize may be awarded to authors of theses of exceptional quality. Nomination is by the thesis adviser, and each faculty member is sent nomination materials during the spring term by the Hoopes Committee.

Kathryn Ann Huggins Prize

Awarded by the Prize Office, University Hall for an outstanding senior thesis from any department on a topic relating to Afro-American life, history or culture. 

Harvard College Grants

Interested students should investigate the following sources of research support:

Ford Grant Program

May support directed research during the summer (work may not be for academic credit). Administered by the Student Employment Office.

Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Summer Thesis Research Grants

May support summer thesis research by women undergraduates. Administered by the Student Employment Office.

Radcliffe Traveling Fellowships

There are five separate categories of fellowships available to women undergraduates for research and travel support. Administered by the Student Employment Office.

Dressler Family Traveling Grants

Support for students seeking to travel and study in a Romance language-speaking country. Administered by the Department of Romance Languages and Literature, Boylston Hall.

Russian Research Center Summer Grants

For summer thesis research in Soviet or Russian Studies. Administered by the Russian Research Center.

Center For Middle Eastern Studies Grants

For summer thesis research on Middle Eastern topics. Administered by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Fellowship

The program awards three fellowships annually to "students in the visual and History of Art and Architecture, including art history, conservation, studio art, and photography". Eligible students must have received an undergraduate degree no more than three years prior to the start of the fellowship year from any of the institutions: Brandeis, Boston University, City College of New York, Columbia, Connecticut College, Galludet, Harvard, Rochester Institute of Technology, Wesleyan, or Yale. The fellowships are intended to provide support for living expenses and travel outside the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. Students must therefore present in their application a reasoning of the specific necessity for their travel abroad to complete their proposed project; i.e., scholarship and/or artistic pursuit must involve specific materials or locations abroad. Fellowship information is available on the Brandeis University website.

General Resources

URAF Fellowships

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships administers more than 30 fellowship competitions annually, for both prestigious national fellowships and scholarships as well as Harvard fellowships, which are open to Harvard College undergraduates. 

CARAT Database for Grants and Fellowships

The CARAT Database for Grants and Fellowships is an electronic tool for both Harvard students and external applicants to submit research, public service, study abroad, and purposeful travel application or funding requests for such opportunities among over fifty different university funding sources.