Elinor Ostrom Fellowship

A one-year program for doctoral students from any university and discipline who are interested in the themes of markets, culture, morality, and sociality in political economy.

Applications are currently closed. Applications for the 2024-2025 academic year will open in the Fall of 2023.


The total award of up to $7,000 includes: 

  • A stipend
  • All required readings
  • Travel and lodging to attend colloquia hosted by the Mercatus Center


In order to be accepted into the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship program, you must be:

  • Enrolled in a PhD program from any university and in any discipline  

About the Fellowship

The Mercatus Center's Elinor Ostrom Fellowship is a one-year, competitive fellowship program awarded to PhD students from any university and any discipline, including but not limited to economics, philosophy, political science, and sociology.

Ostrom About Photo

Additional Financial Support

Additional sources of funding are available to our Ostrom Fellows, including:

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Have more questions? 

    Students who meet all of the following 3 criteria are strongly encouraged to apply:

    • Students that will be enrolled in an accredited PhD program during the upcoming academic year.
    • Students that are able to commit to traveling 3 weekends for colloquia during the upcoming academic year.
    • Students who have research or teaching interests in the themes of markets, culture, morality, and sociality and who would benefit from a greater understanding of key contemporary writings in political economy.

    Yes. Acceptance to the program is conditional on enrollment in an accredited PhD program during the year of participation in the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship.

    Yes. It is the responsibility of the applicant to determine whether work related to completing a dissertation or going on the job market will interfere with full involvement in the program.  Applicants who can commit to full participation in the program are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Yes. PhD students from any discipline who have a research or teaching interest in the themes of markets, culture, morality, and sociality and who would benefit from a greater understanding of key writings in political economy are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Any student of any nationality enrolled in any doctoral program at any university, in the US or abroad, is eligible to apply for the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship. The program will arrange and cover airfare, as well as lodging and meals associated with the fellowship.

    Each fellow is responsible for making the appropriate verifications of their eligibility to receive funding from the Mercatus Center. Fellows should check with their home departments, international student offices, or private foundations (as appropriate) to verify their eligibility. Fellows are responsible for any applicable taxes on the honoraria provided through the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship Program.

    The terms of the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship carry with them the expectation that fellows will be substantially involved in the entirety of the formal colloquium schedule as well as the activities, including meals and hospitality, that are scheduled as part of the conference program. This expectation exists because conversations about the readings and the discussions in the colloquium sessions invariably continue beyond the time allotted by the program schedule. We also strongly encourage the fellows to interact with each other and faculty participants about their own and each other’s academic work and how it relates to the themes discussed in sessions. Consequently, in order to ensure that every fellow gets the most out of the experience, all fellows are required to lodge at the conference site and to be present for the entirety of the scheduled program. 

    Colloquium dates are subject to some variability. Exact dates will be confirmed during the summer preceding participation in the program.

    For weekend colloquia, fellows should plan to arrive at the conference hotel prior to 5pm on the Thursday that commences the colloquium; fellows are free to leave at their convenience on Sunday morning when the colloquium adjourns.

    Fellows are responsible for maintaining an up-to-date record with the program of a valid postal address to which packages can be shipped. Readings will be distributed both by email and by post 2 months in advance of each colloquium.

    Fellows may submit for reimbursement any conventional expenses associated with academic travel. These expenses include cab fare and mileage incurred by the fellow to and from home and the conference site, parking, and hotel accommodation in the event of travel delays.


    Yes, fellowship recipients are eligible to re-apply to the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship each year of their studies. Elinor Ostrom Fellows are also eligible to apply for conference travel and research support. Doctoral students may also be eligible for the Adam Smith Fellowship, Oskar Morgenstern Fellowship, Frédéric Bastiat Fellowship, and Don Lavoie Fellowship.

    Elinor Ostrom was a founder of the Bloomington school of political economy (also having developed the Institutional Analysis and Development framework) which explores the institutional arrangements or structures that enable communities to overcome their social dilemmas and problems on their own. Central to this school of thought are concepts of self-governance and polycentricity. E. Ostrom earned her PhD in political science from University of California, Los Angeles and was a co-recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 2009 for “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons.” She co-founded what is now called the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University, Bloomington and was a Professor of Political Science at Indiana University from 1974 until her death in 2012.

    Email [email protected] regarding general questions about the fellowship or questions about your application status or application materials.

    Ready to get started?

    Confirm your qualifications

    In order to be accepted into the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship program, you must be:

    • Enrolled in PhD program at any university and in any discipline

    Review requirements

    Review the program requirements to ensure the Elinor Ostrom Fellowship is right for you.