Data Science Fellowships

UPDATE: The Program in Islamic Law is no longer taking applications for the 2020–2021 academic year. Future opportunities will be announced on this page, as well as through our e-newsletters and social media accounts.

Title: Data Science Fellow

School: Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Department/Area: Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS)

Position Description: The Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) in partnership with Harvard Law School’s Program in Islamic Law is seeking a Data Science Fellow to work on SHARIAsource, a Harvard initiative designed to combine historical Islamic sources with data science. The Fellow will be based at IQSS, which offers a rich community of researchers working on data science problems with applications to the social sciences. In collaboration with the Harvard Libraries, which house one of the largest collections of sources in the world, data science approaches will allow us to use quantitative methods to arrive at new insights into unanswered questions.

Successful forays into this new approach to social science and law in this field will require building a corpus of texts, creating tools to render machine-readable data, and building historical text-mining tools. The corpus will be constructed through a combination of machine-learning projects that mine library and online systems for relevant data with faculty guidance in identifying subsets of those texts for digitization. An Arabic OCR tool will build on existing experiments and integrate new tools designed to convert raw image scans into high-accuracy texts using natural language processing and machine learning to recognize irregular text structures, right-to-left texts, and annotations from multiple fonts and scripts. Text-mining algorithms will then be constructed in close collaboration with faculty to create data models that answer important questions in history and law.

The Fellow will work on multiple components of this project. He or she will help assemble and tag the corpus, integrate the texts and tools into a collaborative data platform, and construct algorithms for structuring and mining the data to create classified data models. The ideal candidate will have completed a PhD program in computer science or a related field, and would benefit from spending time working in a university setting on problems at the intersection of technology and academic research.

This is a one-year term appointment. The expected start date is summer 2020, with possibilities for extension based on performance and funding. The Fellow will work closely with the PI, Professor Intisar Rabb (Harvard Law School, Department of History, Program in Islamic Law).

Basic Qualifications:

  • A graduate degree at the Master’s level or higher is required before the start date.
  • Excellent programming and problem-solving skills, as well as a solid background in database design, text analysis, and machine learning.
  • The Fellow must be self-directed and able to innovatively apply relevant research methods to this use case.

Highly Preferred Qualifications:

  • A PhD or equivalent in a relevant field of study.

Special Instructions: TO APPLY: Applicants should submit: 1) a CV, 2) an unofficial transcript of terminal degree, and 3) a one-page cover letter describing their experience with data science (including links to portfolios, sites, and/or data repositories) addressed to Professor Intisar Rabb. All applications should be submitted online. Application review will begin on April 10, 2020, and applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Contact Information: Mona Rahmani, Associate Director, Program in Islamic Law (

Equal Opportunity Employer: We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions or any other characteristic protected by law.

Research Fellowships

UPDATE: The Program in Islamic Law is no longer taking applications for the 2020–2021 academic year. Please check this website in fall 2020 for the opening of the next round of applications.

The Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School invites applications to its 2020-2021 Fellowship Program. Fellowships are designed to provide an intellectual home to promising young scholars in Islamic legal studies to advance their own research and to contribute to the intellectual life of the Program and the Harvard community. Successful applicants will have completed an advanced degree (JD, PhD, SJD or the equivalent) before the start of the fellowship, and plan to pursue a scholarly research agenda in Islamic law that engages legal history, law and society, or comparative law approaches. Fellows will receive stipends of $40,000 for an academic year.

To apply for a Research Fellowship, please submit the following materials via the online application form by January 31, 2020:

  1. a curriculum vitae
  2. a research statement, not to exceed 1000 words, that describes the applicant’s research background, interest in the Program, and proposed work during the fellowship period.
  3. a recent publication or writing sample (not to exceed 25 pages in length, in English)
  4. relevant law school or graduate school transcripts
  5. at least 2 recommendation letters, uploaded directly by your recommenders at the referee link. Please note that the application system will not automatically send your recommender the recommendation form. You must send the link directly to your references by clicking on the link and directing them to the URL.

Fellows will spend the majority of their residency on their own research. They are also expected to participate in all the activities of the Program in Islamic Law, and help in organizing Program activities, and participate in the intellectual life of the law school and at Harvard University. Fellows are therefore expected to be in residence at Harvard throughout the term each semester.

Senior Fellowships

The Program in Islamic Law’s Senior Fellowships are designed to provide senior scholars in the field the opportunity to spend an academic year, semester, or shorter period in residence at the Program in Islamic Law conducting research in Islamic legal studies. Successful applicants will be tenured professors with at least one published book. Please note that these fellowships are non-stipendiary, but do provide an official appointment, workspace (as available), a Harvard ID and affiliation, and access to the Harvard Library and intellectual community. Senior fellowship opportunities undergo review of a fellowship committee, and are subject to space and other considerations. Interested scholars should send a letter of interest, including a short description of the proposed research, research period, and a CV to, with the subject heading “Program in Islamic Law Senior Fellowships.”