Irving and Rose Crown Fellowships

All those currently enrolled in the Brandeis PhD program are considered Crown Fellows. Gifts from the Crown family, in conjunction with Brandeis's own resources, cover tuition and offer generous stipends for each Fellow.

In 1969, a tumultuous year in American history, a substantial gift from the Crown family of Chicago created the Irving and Rose Crown School of Graduate Studies in American Civilization at Brandeis. The Crown School was designed to energize historical scholarship, to contribute new insights to our nation's public life, and to help Brandeis — then barely 20 years old — claim its place among the nation's leading institutions of higher education.

Nearly a half-century after the inauguration of the Irving and Rose Crown School, our world remains tumultuous. As we stare down a future of seemingly infinite complexity, the need for nuanced, innovative historical research becomes ever more vital. Crown Fellows reach across and beyond the university to discover histories that matter. They find new answers to historical questions of pressing public concern: environmental crises; issues of law, labor and policy; problems of gender and race relations; dilemmas of religious tolerance and pluralism. We believe that it is vitally important for new generations of scholars to participate actively in helping to address the major issues of our time.

That large purpose―to teach gifted young scholars to make meaningful connections between the endeavors of the past and the challenges of the present—is the lifeblood of our graduate program.

Alumni Accomplishments

From the outset, the generosity of the Crown Fellowships allowed the Crown School to recruit young scholars of exceptional promise and to train rising historians of national distinction. Former Crown Fellows now hold endowed chairs at Harvard and Princeton. Many have attained international visibility on the faculties of Ivy League schools, elite public universities and premier liberal arts colleges. They have published hundreds of pathbreaking books and have received scores of prizes. Five of our students and faculty have won Pulitzer Prizes. While most Crown alumni practice their craft in colleges and universities, others have made their mark in government, law, diplomacy, journalism, public administration, business, philanthropy and social welfare. Whatever their paths, nearly all of our graduates join historical research and teaching to broader public service.

Program Focus

For many years, American history was the exclusive focus of the Crown Fellowships, while a separate graduate program in comparative history covered other parts of the world. In 2009, the history department combined its American and comparative programs into a single doctoral program that extended the Crown fellowships to fields around the globe and reflected the broadening interests of the Crown family Philanthropies. The research of today's Crown Fellows spans continents and centuries.

Image of map from Crown Fellows brochure

Crown Fellows master their discipline by following evidence rather than fashion. Students are encouraged not to write dissertations that simply fill gaps in scholarly literature, but to write books that change fields, and sometimes change lives.