H-STEP Fellowship

Graduate School of Education building

The H-STEP Fellowship (Humanities in the Stanford Teacher Education Program) has been created by the School of Humanities and Sciences and Graduate School of Education, with assistance from the Office of the President, to provide Stanford PhD graduates in humanities and arts with an unprecedented and fully funded opportunity to launch a career in public high school teaching. 

Why earn a Master’s degree in Education at Stanford after your PhD?

Our public schools are desperately in need of teachers with talent and passion in humanities subject areas. Other countries—such as Finland, France, and Switzerland—have long seen value in placing teachers with advanced degrees in secondary school classrooms. The United States lags behind this trend. In particular, studies show that K-12 humanities teachers, especially in history, tend to be less well trained than teachers in other areas. With both a humanities PhD and an MA in Education, you could help lead efforts to improve equal access to high-quality humanities teaching across the nation.

The STEP curriculum will help you transfer your research and teaching skills to a public high school setting, providing in-depth preparation in educational theory as well as practical classroom experience. Teaching in a public high school is very different from teaching at an R1 university like Stanford, and research shows that teacher training programs like STEP strongly decrease the likelihood of new teacher burnout. STEP graduates have a nearly 100 percent job placement rateand are employed in some of the nation's most innovative schools.

What is STEP?

STEP Secondary is a nationally renowned, 12-month, full-time program leading to a Master of Arts in Education and a preliminary California Single Subject Teaching Credential.

STEP’s goal is to prepare program graduates to meet both the practical and intellectual challenges of the teaching profession, to serve the needs of the diverse population of today’s students, and to revitalize the profession and the field by preparing educational leaders for tomorrow’s schools.

The program’s small size (approximately 70 candidates), access to top faculty and qualified cooperating teachers, and coherent design offer students highly focused instruction. Coursework is interwoven with hands-on teaching experience, sustained mentoring, and personalized advising.

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Eligibility for Funding

  • You must have completed a PhD in a Stanford humanities or arts department.

  • You must have taken the course EDUC 405: "Teaching the Humanities," before completing your doctorate. (In certain cases, we may be willing to consider an exception if you are about to graduate and have satisfied every other eligibility requirement. Contact Jeff Schwegman for more information.)

  • You must be accepted into STEP with a focus in a specific subject area (English, History/Social Science, or World Languages including French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish).

Candidates who satisfy all of these requirements are eligible for H-STEP funding up to two years beyond their date of graduation.

Recommendations for a Competitive STEP Application

STEP is a highly competitive program. To ensure that you are a viable candidate, you should be begin planning for a STEP application in the middle years of your PhD program. 

Students with a potential interest in STEP should schedule a counseling appointment with Viviana Alcazar, the STEP Program Officer. Viviana can arrange class observations and shadowing opportunities to help you decide if the program would be a good fit. She can also help you assess your level of preparation and locate high school volunteering opportunities.

To become eligible for H-STEP funding, you must enroll in the course EDUC 405: “Teaching the Humanities” at some point before completing your PhD. This course introduces students to a broad range of teaching institutions, including community colleges and secondary schools, and includes hands-on classroom observations at local schools. It is an ideal way to begin exploring possible teaching careers, whether or not you eventually decide to apply to STEP. This course is typically offered during winter quarter, for 3 units. (Students who are unable to enroll for the full 3 units should consult the instructor, Jennifer Wolf, about the possibility of auditing. Auditors will still be considered eligible for H-STEP funding, so long as they regularly attend class and complete all of the coursework.)

Students who demonstrate a sustained interest in working with youth will be the most attractive candidates for STEP. There is no specific teaching experience or minimum number of hours necessary to apply, but applicants should have had meaningful experience working with high school students in some capacity. Viviana Alcazar can help you identify volunteering opportunities.

STEP emphasizes teacher training within a specific subject area. As a result, applicants must have strong content knowledge in their chosen field. For humanists, the choices are English, History/Social Science, or World Languages (French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish). If you will earn your PhD in another discipline, you must take some additional coursework in one of these fields to support your application. For example, if you will complete your PhD in Musicology, you should consider taking courses in American History or English Literature as a supplement. Please note that your undergraduate coursework also counts towards this requirement. For instance, if your PhD is in Philosophy, but you majored in English as an undergraduate, you probably already meet the requirements for the English track. All candidates are strongly encouraged to schedule a meeting with Viviana Alcazar to assess your level of subject matter preparation.

Applicants must pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) by the application deadline, and must take the appropriate California Subject Exam for Teachers (CSET) to begin the program in June.

How to Apply

This year, the STEP application deadline is January 12, 2016 and the program begins in June. Detailed instructions and a link to the online application are on the GSE websiteThere is no separate application for the H-STEP Fellowship: if you are accepted into STEP and meet the eligibility requirements, you will automatically receive this funding. (You do have to apply separately for the Dorothy Durfee Avery Loan, however - see below).

When to Apply:

A. You may apply to STEP up to 18 months in advance of your intended enrollment quarter. If you plan to graduate in the spring quarter of 2017, you may apply in January 2016 and receive a conditional offer of admission to begin the program in the summer quarter of 2017.

B. Alternatively, you may apply to STEP in the January prior to your graduation. If you intend to graduate between January and June 2016, you may apply in January 2016 to begin the STEP program in June 2016.

C. You may also apply to STEP up to two years after graduating from your PhD program and still be eligible for the H-STEP funding. For instance, if you will graduate sometime between July 2015 and June 2016, you may apply to start STEP in June of 2016, 2017, or 2018. Beyond this point, you may still continue to apply to the STEP program itself, but you will no longer be eligible for H-STEP funding.

Other Considerations:

  • If you intend to attend STEP during the summer after your graduation, you should consider scheduling your PhD defense during the spring quarter immediately preceding the program start date, so that there is no gap in your Stanford affiliation. For instance, if you plan to enroll in STEP in June of 2016, you should consider scheduling your defense in spring quarter of 2016 (not winter 2016 or fall 2015). 
  • If you are accepted into STEP, but fail to complete you PhD by the STEP program start date, you will lose your H-STEP funding. You may still attend STEP without funding, however.

Questions about funding eligibility and when to apply? Email Jeff Schwegman.

Questions about the application or STEP? Email the STEP Admissions Office.


The School of Humanities and Sciences, the President's Office, and the Graduate School of Education have put together a funding package that covers the full cost of tuition, health insurance, and a living stipend at the level recommended for humanities PhD programs. This funding has two parts: the H-STEP Fellowship, and a forgivable loan.

  1. H-STEP Fellowship: If you are accepted into STEP and meet the eligibility requirements listed above, you will automatically be awarded a fellowship covering the full cost of tuition, living expenses, and health insurance, minus the current value of the Dorothy Durfee Avery Loan (below). This amounts to around $60,000 of the roughly $80,000 required to attend STEP. You do not need to complete a separate application to receive this funding.
  2. Dorothy Durfee Avery Loan: To cover the remaining cost of attendance, you are encouraged to apply for the School of Education's Dorothy Durfee Avery Loan. This is a need-based loan of roughly $20,000 (subject to annual variation) awarded to the vast majority of students accepted into STEP. The loan accrues interest at 5.0% during your STEP enrollment, your six-month grace period, and your ten-year repayment period. However, the entire amount will be forgiven if you commit to four years of teaching in a public school upon graduation (or in certain cases, a private school benefiting an underserved community). To apply for an Avery Loan, you must complete the GSE’s online STEP Loan Application along with two copies of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

If, for some reason, you are not eligible for an Avery Loan, we will consider increasing the value of your H-STEP fellowship to cover the remaining cost on a case by case basis. In particular, international students are usually not eligible for an Avery Loan. Contact Jeff Schwegman for more information.

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