Cheng Fellowship applications for current HKS students, current HBS students, and rising juniors/seniors at Harvard College will open on February 25, 2019. Applications for HKS Mid-Career students will open in Summer 2019. The link to apply and application details will be available here at this time.

Program Structure

The Cheng Fellowship engages HKS, HBS, and Harvard College students who are looking to be in action, dedicated, and focused in creating social change around a specific problem. All applicants must be available to attend weekly evening co-curricular sessions (one night/week) on HKS’ campus for the duration of the 2018-19 academic year and in good academic standing for the duration of their participation.

Applicant Information

Successful applicants are expected to enter the program with a deep understanding of a specific public or social problem and the ability to clearly articulate the state, scope, and importance of the problem, as well as their personal motivation to address it. They should have an idea – or the seed of an idea – that they wish to develop, refine, and advance in a serious and intentional way. They must be willing to acknowledge the likelihood of and be open to significant evolutions in their thinking from this initial point.

Over the course of the Fellowship, students work to refine their understanding of the problem, reflect on their personal identities and sources of power, and take action in finding their unique pathway forward, making concrete plans to continue their work post-graduation as social innovators in movements, organizations, businesses, and/or government.

This Fellowship is rigorous and time-intensive. Successful applicants will demonstrate that they are highly self-motivated, skilled at self-management, able to integrate constructive feedback, and have an unwavering dedication to a specific social mission. Applicants must demonstrate a compelling desire to advance positive social change through social innovation (not just an interest in innovation for its own sake).

Selection Criteria

Applicants will be evaluated on the following:

  • Provides evidence of real commitment to a specific social issue and the people adversely affected by the current state.
  • Demonstrates a clear connection between the Fellowship and long- and short-term post-graduation goals.
  • Approaches innovation with a learning mindset.

Fellow Characteristics

Social change and transformation is hard work. Selected Fellows in previous cohorts have demonstrated:

  • Strong commitment to, and experience in, addressing chosen problem area.
  • Clear drive and motivation to contribute to social change.
  • A specific idea of how they may contribute to advancing this change.
  • An action-orientation and hunger to learn from failure. 
  • Compelling reasoning for pursuing social innovation within the context of a public policy school.
  • Humility, flexibility, and openness to questioning one’s own assumptions.
  • Active partnership and participation in building a highly connected and supportive community within the Fellowship.
  • A commitment to complete all program requirements, including attendance at scheduled co-curricular sessions one evening per week and completion of the Social Change Plan.
  • Intellectual curiosity and accomplishment, and the ability to persuasively communicate ideas, insights, and plans.
  • Leadership capacity and experience.