Calling All U.S. History and Civics Teachers: This Foundation Wants To Help You Get Your Master’s Degree!

America’s most prestigious award in constitutional history and government for secondary teachers.

Sponsored By James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation
A picture of someone holding a copy of the U.S. Constitution with a caption reading, "Receive up to $24,000 to earn your master's degree!"

Are you a U.S. history, government, or civics teacher who’s passionate about teaching your students to appreciate and understand our Constitution and to inspire them to become well-informed and engaged citizens?

If so, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation can help you pursue a master’s degree to continue your important work!


What is the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation?

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation was created by the U.S. Congress in 1986 with the goal of improving teaching about the U.S. Constitution in secondary schools. Fellows can receive up to $24,000 from the foundation to be used in obtaining a master’s degree in American history, political science, or government from an accredited university. There is a Senior Fellowship for current teachers and a Junior Fellowship for future teachers, awarded to outstanding college seniors and college graduates without teaching experience but who plan on teaching secondary American history, civics, or government.

Am I eligible to apply?

If you are passionate about teaching students in grades 7 through 12 about the importance of the U.S. Constitution, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation encourages you to apply. There are several selection criteria. An applicant must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Intend to complete a master’s degree program that emphasizes the Constitution and offers instruction in that subject.
  • Commit to returning to the classroom to teach American history, American government, or civics classes in grades 7–12 for at least one year for each year you receive fellowship support.

If you’re interested in learning more about the application process, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation website has a great FAQ section.

What happens if I’m chosen to be a James Madison Fellow?

Once selected, James Madison Fellows can begin their studies. The foundation requires fellows to maintain good academic standing and complete their graduate degree study within five calendar years (for Senior Fellows) or two full-time academic years (for Junior Fellows). Additionally, James Madison Fellows are required to  attend the foundation’s Summer Institute, a six-hour graduate course, once during the term of their fellowship.

The Summer Institute sounds interesting. What will I be doing there?

The Summer Institute is a four-week, six-credit-hour course held in Washington, D.C., each June through early July. The graduate course is called “Foundations of American Constitutionalism” and it focuses on the history and political thought that led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution. In addition to classroom time, James Madison Fellows will visit historic sites associated with the institutions of American government and the Constitution’s framers.

What’s it like to be a James Madison Fellow?

Being a James Madison Fellow is prestigious. If chosen, you’ll be in great company. Past James Madison Fellows include former Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and former National Council for the Social Studies President Peggy Jackson. Many James Madison Fellows report that being part of a select group of motivated educators learning about American history and government was a highlight of their entire experience. You can hear some of their thoughts in the video below.

What happens when I finish my graduate program?

This is one of the most exciting aspects of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship. Once you have earned your degree and completed your teaching obligation, you will be a member of an elite group of scholars that you’ll be connected to throughout your career. When you go back to work, you’ll be equipped to ignite your students’ interest in American history and the Constitution. The fellowship requires James Madison Fellows to teach U.S. history, government, or civics for one full school year in a middle school or high school setting for each academic year they received fellowship support.

I’m interested. What now?

Applications for 2024 fellowships will open on Constitution Day, September 17, 2023. The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation may award one fellowship per state. This means you are only competing against other educators from your state. You can review what the application questions look like and get some helpful suggestions on how to submit an exemplary application on the foundation’s website. Applications for 2024 fellowships are due by March 1, 2024.


Thinking about getting a master's degree in history or government? If so, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship might be perfect for you!