Gaines Fellowships

The John R. and Joan B. Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities is a one-of-a-kind undergraduate program designed to enrich the undergraduate experience in the humanities in a culture where science and technology are increasingly dominating. The fellowships are awarded in recognition of an 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.

Twelve fellowships are awarded for tenure in the junior and senior years (defined as the last two years of an entire undergraduate program). The Gaines Fellowships carry a stipend of $2,000 in the junior year and $3,000 in the senior year.

All Gaines Fellows are required to take a specially designed, four-credit hour per semester seminar in the humanities during both semesters of the junior year. In addition, each Junior fellow must complete an engagement project in order to carry out an improvement to a community, whether it be our campus, Lexington, the fellow's hometown, or a community further afield.

Rising Senior Fellows are eligible for Betts, Rowland, and European Travel Scholarships. These scholarships provide financial support for experiences that significantly enhance Fellows' knowledge and abilities. The Betts and Rowland Scholarships, named in honor of Gaines directors emeriti, support research, travel, or other experiences that prepare Fellows for further work in their fields of study or community engagement. The European Travel Scholarships support travel and study in museums and other important sites throughout Europe's cultural capitals. Since 2015, rising Senior Fellows have also had the option of traveling to major cities in China (combining personal funds with support from the UK Confucius Institute/government of China) and interacting with students and faculty from Chinese universities and high schools.

In the Senior year, each Fellow must complete a major independent study prjoect (thesis) of six to fifteen credit hours. The thesis project must be submitted and defended in front of a thesis committee of three University faculty members and the director of the Gaines Center. Senior Fellows are eligible for the Clay Lancaster Scholarship, which grants one Fellow unlimited access to the secluded Woodford County estate and personal library of 18th-century Kentucky architect Clay Lancaster, all for thesis research and retreat.  In a special winter cermony, Senior Fellows receive a custom-woven Gaines scarf, and near graduation they are given a Gaines sash to wear at the UK commencement ceremony. In late spring, Senior Fellows travel to New York as part of the capstone Gray Art Experience.

Gaines Fellows must participate in all activities of the Gaines Center for the Humanities.



Any student at the University of Kentucky may apply for a Gaines Fellowship. Students in all disciplines and with any intended profession are given equal consideration. Gaines Fellows come from all disciplines, from Art History and English to Biology and Chemical Engineering.

Participation in the Honors Program is not a prerequisite for application. Any undergraduate demonstrating excellence in his or her undergraduate career is encouraged to apply. Applicants must have two years of planned undergraduate study remaining and must have an outstanding academic record (normally measured at a 3.5 GPA or better). Renewal in the senior year will be contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and demonstrated participation in all Gaines Center events.