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Fellowships & Visiting Scientist Positions

The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian has hosted a large percentage of the astrophysics community through the course of their scientific, professional and scholarly development. CfA fellowship programs have also hosted, chemists, computer scientists, engineers and physicists from other disciplines. Become part of a distinguished alumni group and advance your research through our fellowships and visiting scientist programs.

Why the CfA

The CfA is known for its leadership in theoretical, observational and laboratory astrophysics, and for its observational programs across the electromagnetic spectrum. The CfA also includes highly successful instrument development teams and facility operations expertise. CfA Fellows are able to use the combined resources and facilities of the CfA's two collaborating observatories: the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. 

Through the CfA's operational agreements with its partners, CfA Fellows can propose for CfA-allocated observing time on the MMT in Arizona, the Magellan Telescopes in Chile and the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii. Other opportunities to participate in ground- and space-based observing programs include but are not limited to, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Event Horizon Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)Kepler K2, the Parker Solar Probe, Pan-STARRS, and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The CfA also offers a number of specialized laboratories, the renowned Wolbach astrophysics library, an astrophysics statistics program, and several formal research initiatives open by application to Fellows, which focus on a particular research area (for example in black holes, theoretical astrophysics, and the origins of life), where inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional collaborative research is the central organizing principle.

The CfA provides a dynamic range of weekly luncheons, prestigious colloquia, journal clubs, daily coffees, divisional get-togethers and many other formal and informal opportunities for the exchange of ideas and professional development in a diverse scientific community. In addition, many influential and recognized researchers from other institutions are frequent speakers and visitors to the CfA. Some 300 CfA Ph.D. researchers, 35 graduate students, 12 predoctoral fellows, and numerous engineers, program managers and technical staff combine to conduct their research, serve the field on numerous committees and advisory bodies. In the past year, CfA researchers published a combined 1,042 refereed papers per year in publications such as Astrophysical JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical SocietyNature, and Science.

The CfA is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a vibrant slice of the larger Boston metropolitan area, known for its excellent universities, colleges and public education, its world renowned medical facilities, a dynamic modern economy, a booming artistic community, passionate sports fans and diverse cultures, all within a two hour drive to great skiing, hiking in the White, Green or Berkshire mountains, and many Atlantic Ocean beaches. As a joint collaboration between Smithsonian and Harvard, the CfA can also offer CfA Fellows selected special privileges through both institutions.

Fellowship Programs

CfA Fellowship - Not accepting applications at this time

Recent Ph.D. recipients in atomic and molecular physics, geophysics, the solar system, astronomy, astrophysics or cosmology, with interests in theory, observation, instrumentation and/or laboratory research are invited to apply for the CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Clay Fellowship - Not accepting applications at this time

The Clay Research Fellowship is available at the CfA in Cambridge beginning in summer or autumn of each year. Research programs include instrumentation, observation, and theory in atomic and molecular physics, geophysics, the solar system, stars, galaxies, and cosmology. Techniques used range from computer simulations through observations in the radio, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, X- and gamma-ray bands, to instrument development and laboratory experiments.

Harvard Postdoctoral Fellowship for Future Faculty Leaders - Currently Accepting Applications

We invite applications for the sixth cohort of the Harvard Postdoctoral Fellowships for Future Faculty Leaders (FFL). We seek individuals who will develop and carry out an independent research program in astronomy, and whose research will also contribute to increasing representation and inclusion in these fields through teaching, mentoring, research advising, and public outreach. The program also targets individuals who may bring unconventional perspectives to their fields of research, may have critical insights that result from alternative paths to academia, and whose background will contribute to increasing representation at Harvard and in the national community of astronomers.

ITAMP Postdoctoral Fellowship - Not accepting applications at this time

The Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (ITAMP) Postdoctoral Fellowship supports up to two promising scientists each year who have recently received a Ph.D. degree and wish to carry out research theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physics at the Institute. Unlike most postdoctoral appointments, the possible research topics are not constrained by contract or grant requirements. The Fellowship Appointment is for two years with possible renewal for a third year.

ITC Fellowship - Not accepting applications at this time

Applications are invited for Postdoctoral Research Positions in the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) at CfA. One of the primary objectives of the ITC is to integrate conceptual theory with computational modeling; therefore, the Institute is interested in candidates working in any field related to theoretical and/or numerical astrophysics.

Submillimeter Array Fellowship - Not accepting applications at this time

Applications are invited for the Submillimeter Array Postdoctoral Fellowships at the CfA. Aimed chiefly at research using the Submillimeter Array (SMA), a pathfinding instrument comprised of eight 6-meter antennas on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, designed for high spatial and spectral resolution investigations at submillimeter wavelengths of a wide range of astrophysical phenomena (including Solar System bodies, protoplanetary disks, star-forming regions, evolved star envelopes, the Galactic Center, nearby galaxies, and ultraluminous galaxies at cosmological distances), these appointments encourage Fellows to propose and participate in science observations with the SMA and provide access to all CfA facilities.

Visiting Scientist Program

The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, through its collaborating entity the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), offers opportunities for visiting scientists to engage with CfA | Harvard & Smithsonian science, research and resources.

The Visiting Scientist and Visiting Student Program at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory expands scholarly exchange in atomic and molecular physics; infrared, optical, radio, and X-ray astronomy; planetary sciences; geophysics; solar and stellar physics; and theoretical astrophysics. Visits can vary from a few days to several weeks or months and, in some cases, last up to a year. This program annually attracts many international and national visitors.

Stipend support varies with the length of the visit, with support being provided by the visitor's home institution or by fellowships such as a Guggenheim or from NATO, etc. Application to the program is made by directly contacting a member of the research staff to request support.

Awards are dependent upon availability of funding.



My time as CfA fellow was formative in my scientific career, particularly for forging friendships and collaborations among my fellow postdocs. Some of the collaborations I started at the CfA are still active today, more than a decade later.
- Anil Chandra Seth, 2006 CfA Fellow, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Utah