The application period for the 2021-22 academic-year O'Brien fellowships is now closed. Check back here in early fall 2021 for details on applications for the 2022-23 academic year. The application period runs from Dec. 1 to late January.  



O’Brien Fellows complete an in-depth reporting project of their choosing on a topic of state, regional, national or international interest over two academic semesters. See the Our Work section of our website for examples of the journalism produced by past fellows.

  • In the past, most Fellows have worked from a home base in the O’Brien newsroom in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 
  • Mentor and team with top Marquette journalism students in the pursuit of an investigative or explanatory journalism project.


We seek applications from staff-employed or independent journalists residing in the United States or its territories. Applicants should have at least five years of professional experience and produce journalism regularly as an employee or freelancer. Applicants may be connected to print operations, radio, television, websites, podcasts, online publications, wire services, or magazines of general public interest. There are no academic prerequisites.

Stipend and Benefits

A stipend of $70,000 for nine months for your salary, paid to your sponsoring organization, or directly to the fellow in the case of independent journalists.

  • A residency allowance based on family requirements for fellows moving to the Milwaukee metropolitan area for the duration of the fellowship: up to $4,000 for a single, married or partnered fellow, up to $6,000 for a fellow with one child, up to $7,000 for a fellow with two children, up to $8,000 for a fellow with three or more children. Fellows submit rent receipts from the rental property owner. The allowance is paid in equal monthly installments over the course of the fellowship.
  • A moving allowance based on family size and distance.  (Fellows from the Milwaukee metropolitan area are not eligible for a moving allowance.)
  • A travel and research allowance up to $8,000. This covers project-related travel as well as technology, data and document costs and equipment needs.
  • Employee benefits continue to be paid by the fellow’s employer, where applicable. Independent journalists can choose to select Marquette employee health insurance.
  • Fellows and their spouses are eligible during the fellowship for tuition remission (up to seven credits) for courses offered by Marquette University.

Selection and Criteria

  • A proposal to produce a rigorous, multimedia public service journalism project with the potential to have major impact, lead to significant reform, and explain how individuals and groups can identify creative solutions to social problems.
  • The ability to complete the project during the fellowship.
  • The ability to integrate Marquette students as part of a reporting team.
  • The capacity to ensure the greatest possible exposure for the reporting once completed.
  • An advisory committee consisting of distinguished journalists and Marquette faculty and alumni interview candidates from a pool of finalists recommended by College of Communication journalism faculty.

Current selection committee:

Jacqui Banaszynski | ​Poynter Institute Editing Fellow and Visiting Faculty Member

John Barron | Former Editor/General Manager, ​Tribune Content Agency

Greg Borowski | ​Deputy Editor of projects and investigations, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dr. Ayleen Cabas-Mijares  |  Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, Marquette University

Marissa Evans  | Health Reporter, Los Angeles Times

Dr. Ana Garner | Professor and Chair of Journalism and Media Studies, Marquette University

Martin Kaiser | Journalism Media Consultant, Martin Kaiser LLC

George Stanley | Editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Non-voting committee members:

Dr. Sarah Bonewits Feldner | Dean, ​Diederich College of Communication

Dave Umhoefer  | O'Brien Fellowship Director and Journalism Faculty Member, Marquette University


  • Following those interviews, the advisory committee will send a list of recommended fellows to the dean of the Diederich College of Communication for final review.

How to Complete Your Application

Method 1 (Preferred)

We provide space in our official online application form for you to link to your supporting files from a file sharing service such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or from your personal or company’s website. This allows us to view your materials online. This is our preference.

Method 2

If you are unable to send us a link to your materials, you may email them to us at with the subject "O’Brien Application Materials: Your Name."

Method 3

As a last resort, we will accept physical copies of materials at the mailing address below. These materials won't be returned to you. Please call us before sending them.


Contact Dave Umhoefer, O’Brien Fellowship Director, at (414) 288-5956 or by email at