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In a society where science and technology are increasingly dominant, the Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities is a one-of-a-kind, two-year program designed to enrich undergraduates' experience in the humanities.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of outstanding academic performance, a demonstrated ability to conduct independent research, an interest in public issues, and a desire to enhance understanding of the human condition through the humanities.

This is a highly competitive and prestigious program, with only twelve UK students being selected each academic year. Interested students from all degree programs are encouraged to apply.


Fellowship Overview

Benefits & Expectations

Successful applicants will make a two-year (four semester) commitment to the program, and while all Gaines students are expected to participate in the Center's activities throughout the fellowship, benefits and expectations vary by cohort and progress to completion:

Incoming (Junior) Fellows:

  • $2,000 stipend to be awarded over the academic year 
  • Successful completion of a specially designed four-credit hour humanities seminar during both fall and spring semesters
    • These seminars are led by a variety of outstanding University of Kentucky educators and will focus on a specific theme throughout the year.
  • Successful completion of an engagement project that serves a campus, Lexington, or personal community  

NOTE: Renewal of the fellowship in the senior year will be contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and demonstrated participation in all Gaines Center events.

Senior Fellows:

  • $3,000 stipend to be awarded over the academic year 
  • Eligible for the Betts, Rowland, and European Travel Scholarships which provide financial support for international experiences that significantly enhance Fellows' knowledge and abilities
  • Successful completion of a major independent research project (i.e., thesis) of six to fifteen credit hours 
    • These projects will be guided and graded under the direction of the Gaines Director and three UK faculty members whose expertise is relevant to the fellow's project area.  


Traditionally, interested students will submit their Gaines application during the spring semester of their sophomore year.

While any University of Kentucky student may apply to the Gaines Fellowship, successful applicants will meet the following requirements: 

  • Have at least two years (four semesters) of undergraduate coursework remaining after the given application cycle 
  • Provide an outstanding academic record - typically measured at a 3.5 cumulative GPA or better 
  • Demonstrated commitment to intellectual curiosity, independent research, and/or civic engagement 

Again, students in all disciplines and with any intended profession are given equal consideration. Gaines Fellows come from all degree programs including Art History, Environmental Science, Psychology, Agricultural Biotechnology, and many more. Furthermore, enrollment in the UK Lewis Honors College is not required

Lastly, while freshmen are eligible to apply, they must be able to articulate their scholarly interests and demonstrate academic maturity. If freshmen applicants are unsuccessful, they are encouraged to apply again during their sophomore year. 


Ready to Apply?

Applications for the 2023 Gaines Fellowship are now open.


Before you begin the online application, you must have the following prepared:

  • An updated resume (in PDF form)
  • An unofficial transcript (in PDF form). This can be downloaded from your MyUK portal
  • The names/e-mails of two recommenders. Recommendations may come from anyone who can speak to your intellectual curiosity and/or suitability for the program.
    • YOU are responsible for sending the following link to your recommenders to complete before the deadline of February 6th 2023
    • Recommendation form link: 
  • An answer of no more than 800 words to the following prompt:
    • COVID-19, climate change, systemic racism, and political polarization dominate the headlines in news outlets worldwide. What do you think the humanities, or higher education in general can do to begin to address these growing concerns? You may focus on only one, or all of the issues outlined in your response. Creative responses are welcome.

You are encouraged to follow the Center on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter to stay up-to-date on application announcements and future information sessions. 

The Gaines Center is committed to realizing a vision of true intellectual community. We welcome fellowship applications from eligible candidates from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and actively seek racial, ethnic, economic, geographic, and philosophical diversity, as well as diversity across gender expression, sexual orientation, age, marital and disability status.

Life in Gaines

Gaines students and faculty come from many different academic and personal backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common: an appreciation for meaningful intellectual curiosity. 

We are a community of artists, debaters, scholars, leaders, and social servants dedicated to preserving and amplifying the humanities for all walks of life. 

Learn More


Through special seminar courses, community outreach, and annual trips, our students create a bond that is uniquely Gaines. 

Meet our Fellows


Our junior Gaines Fellows lend their skills and passions to solve problems throughout the campus and across the state.

Service Projects


Gaines Fellows culminate the program with a quality research project that rivals many scholars beyond their years.

Thesis Project