Gunn Center Scholarships

Christopher Gunn Graduate Research Assistantship
and Gunn Center Scholarship
in Science Fiction Studies

The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is pleased to offer a Christopher Gunn Graduate Research Assistantship and two scholarships for SF studies at the University of Kansas:

  • Christopher Gunn Graduate Research Assistantship or Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies (this page): To help outstanding scholars and writers afford to study SF literature or SF writing through the Center at the University of Kansas, and to mutually serve the scholar's needs and Center's mission.
  • Mark Bourne Speculative Fiction Writing Scholarship: To help outstanding SF writers afford to attend the Center's summer writing workshops (details).
  • The Center also offers the James E. Gunn Award for Science Fiction Writing, a writing prize to the author of an outstanding SF story written for a KU class.
  • Additionally of interest to SF scholars is the Heinlein Society Scholarship Program (not affiliated with the Center, but a great way to help pay for SF studies).

Donate! If you would like to donate to support SF studies at KU - either to honor a loved one or just to help students in need - please contact us, and we'll be more than happy to work with you! Please send Gunn Center Director Chris McKitterick a note at with any questions. We have historically used KU Endowment accounts to ensure that all donations were secure and used entirely and exclusively for the Center's designated purposes, as determined and managed by its Founder, Directors, and Board of Advisors. When you donate, make sure to specify the purpose of your donation.

GRAship or Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies

This student award is either a GRAship or a substantial scholarship for studying or writing science fiction at the University of Kansas, and has frequently been granted since 2009, including one full-year GRAship. Preference is given to Kansans, but everyone studying SF at the University of Kansas is eligible.

Funding for the Scholarship originally came courtesy of a University of Kansas alum friendly to the Gunn Center who regularly provided a sizable scholarship for 1-2 undergraduate or graduate students to study science fiction or the writing of science fiction at KU, and has since been funded by others. James Gunn established the Christopher Gunn Graduate Research Assistantship to support a KU graduate student Research Assistant position working for the Center, named in honor of his late son.

The deadline to turn in Phase 1 application materials is early March.

If the GRAship is not offered for an upcoming year, and the Scholarship is not granted during the Phase 1 application period, we continue to consider applicants until the start of the Fall semester (late August each year). New students hoping to receive the GRAship or scholarship for Fall semester must submit directly to Chris McKitterick at

The Award consists of a monetary award plus a tuition reduction toward the Speculative Fiction Writers Workshop if you also successfully apply for the workshop and are invited to join.

The Award

The Christopher Gunn Graduate Research Assistantship in SF Studies consists of:

  • Monetary support in line with other GRA salary in KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to enable the student to focus on their studies and projects that further the Center's mission without having to have additional work.
  • Tuition paid for by the Center (at in-state rates, per KU policy for GRAs).
  • Tuition waiver for the summer Speculative Fiction Writer's Workshop for each year serving as GRA, if you successfully apply for the workshop in time and are invited to join.
  • Possible other fringe benefits as negotiated with the Center Director.
  • Fall, Spring, and Summer Semester employment are all available, as the Center is especially busy during summers.

The Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies consists of:

  • A monetary award sufficient to cover the cost of up to several SF-related courses or other appropriate educational expenses for a given year. Specify in your application letter how you hope to use the funds.
  • Tuition reduction (starting at $200) or waiver toward the summer Speculative Fiction Writer's Workshop, if you successfully apply for the workshop in time and are invited to join. This must be used within 18 months of the applicant winning the Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies (add a year delay for each COVID-19 year we cannot meet in person).
  • Your name posted here!

The first-deadline recipient is usually announced during the English Department Awards Ceremony in May. The August-deadline recipient is announced in September. Below are the SF GRAship and Scholarship winners to date.


To apply for the Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies, submit the following by the deadline:

  • Your name, address, resident status, graduate or undergraduate status, and major (and any minor) fields of study.
  • A short essay (500 - 2500 words) about how you would use and benefit from a scholarship in the study of or writing of science fiction (or both), which aligns with the Center's mission. How could this scholarship help you do things you couldn't otherwise afford? Specify dollar amounts, as this helps us determine the amount of the award.
  • For more details, or to apply after the March deadline for regular-semester use, contact Chris McKitterick at

In addition to the above, to apply for the Center's Christopher Gunn Graduate Research Assistantship for a year or longer (renewable by mutual agreement, funds allowing), also submit your application with your graduate application, and submit it to Chris McKitterick at

There are two submission deadlines for the Scholarship:

  1. The first deadline is early March, and applications go through the KU English Department as well as directly to the Center's Director. See the KU English Department website for details, or contact McKitterick.
  2. The second deadline - if funds remain - for incoming KU students is prior to the start of classes (end of August), especially for new, incoming students. For questions or to submit for August consideration, contact Chris McKitterick at 

For the GRAship, contact Chris McKitterick at before applying for graduate studies, to work out a relevant project proposal for the Center during your studies.

More details:

  • The scholarship is to assist students in studying or writing speculative fiction through the Gunn Center at the University of Kansas. For some definitions of SF, see our the definitions page. Also read James Gunn's essay on the Protocols of Science Fiction for more insight.
  • We may award a GRAship and/or one or two scholarships to deserving applicants each year, depending on qualifications, needs, relevance, and funding availability.
  • All current or incoming KU students - traditional or non-traditional - are eligible to apply.
  • Both Kansas residents and non-residents are eligible, though preference goes to Kansas residents.
  • You may apply each year whether or not you were awarded, but preference goes to new applicants.
  • Scholarship recipients are also eligible for the Mark Bourne Speculative Fiction Writing Scholarship, for use in the Center's SF summer program, but must apply separately to be considered.


Jason Baltazar

Jason used his scholarship to present a paper at the annual Science Fiction Research Association Conference, called "Her Magic is Truth: The Liberatory Magic of I, Tituba and Akata Witch." This paper explores historically marginalized communities seeking to push back against colonial discourses.


Kyle Teller and
Hannah V Warren

Kyle and Hannah used their scholarship to present a paper that also served as the introduction to a like-named anthology they are editing, "Infinite Readings as Resistance: Reader Agency in Speculative Flash Fiction." Their goal is to show how speculative flash fiction gives readers the power to create near-infinite narratives from a very short story.


Adam Mills

Our first two-time winner, Adam used his scholarship to attend the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, where he presented a paper titled "The Case Study of Cthulhu: Affect, Adaptation, and Illustration in Replicating Lovecraft's Monsters," and to help support his speculative-fiction studies and teaching at KU.


Adam Mills

Adam used his scholarship to support his speculative-fiction studies at KU, and to help enable him to work on AboutSF projects over the summer.


Amanda Hemmingsen

Amanda used her scholarship to attend the Science Fiction Institute at KU. After graduation, Amanda has continued her relationship with the Gunn Center through running the Lawrence Science Fiction Club, co-chairing the 2016 World Science Fiction academic-track programming committee, and more.


Justin Wilson

Justin used his scholarship to help him afford several courses in SF literature and writing at KU. He just defended his MFA thesis - with honors!


Isaac Bell

In addition to helping pay for studying SF at KU, Isaac used his scholarship to help launch James Gunn's Ad Astra journal. After graduation, Isaac has continued his relationship with the Gunn Center through continued involvement with AboutSF, Ad Astra, and in many other ways.


Benjamin Cartwright

Ben used his scholarship to cover not just the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop, but also the SF/F/H Novel Writing Workshop, and the Science Fiction Institute - all in the same summer! After graduation, Ben has continued his relationship with the Gunn Center through ongoing work with AboutSF, as guest author/academic in the summer Intensive Institute in SF Studies, and in many other ways.


Melissa Lytton

Melissa used her scholarship to help cover financial needs at KU and also to purchase hardware and software to enable her to get started on her (now-flourishing!) career in book design. Check out her website: Happy Goth Productions.

updated 5/19/2020