Applications now open for 2019-2020 Roger Ebert Fellowship

Roger EbertThe late Roger Ebert, a distinguished writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Thanks to the generosity of Chaz Ebert and the Roger Ebert Program for Film Studies, select College of Media students have the opportunity to learn about arts criticism and prepare for an increasingly competitive arts and entertainment media job market through the Roger Ebert Fellowships. 

Three Roger Ebert Fellows will be selected to work during the 2019-20 academic year with adviser and mentor Michael Phillips, the film critic at the Chicago Tribune. The fellows will hone their writing and interviewing skills, sharpen their critical eye, attend the opening weekend of the Chicago International Film Festival, develop their podcasting skills in the studios of Chicago Public Radio, interview improvisation veterans at Second City and cover every nook and cranny of Roger Ebert’s film festival, aka Ebertfest, in April at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign. They’ll gain knowledge and experience they can use in both their academic and future media careers. 

Each fellow is awarded a $3,000 stipend for the duration of the fellowship.

Who should apply?

We’re looking for College of Media students with a passion for connecting audiences with arts and entertainment across a broad spectrum. We’re also looking for good writers who want to get better.

Undergraduate students in every College of Media major—Media & Cinema Studies, Journalism, Advertising, CS + Advertising—and at every level, freshman to senior, are eligible for the program. To paraphrase Anton Ego in Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille: “Not everyone can become a great arts and entertainment writer. But a great arts and entertainment writer can come from anywhere."

How do I apply?

We want to see TWO documents from you—a brief bio and a writing sample.

Brief bio

In 200-250 words, tell us about yourself: Name, hometown, what you’re studying, what excites you about the Ebert program.

Writing sample

Submit a review of a film, TV show, podcast, concert, art exhibit or album, or anything that comes under the banner of arts and entertainment that you’ve seen/heard/experienced recently. Imagine your audience to be readers of the Daily Illini. Length should be 500-600 words.

Questions about the program?

Mentor Michael Phillips ( can answer questions about the life of an Ebert fellow. Note: He cannot accept submissions. Submissions must go to or the Student Services Center offices in 18 Gregory Hall.

Submit materials via email to or in person to the Student Services Center in 18 Gregory Hall. 

Deadline to apply: 5 p.m., Friday, September 20, 2019.

James Scholars: Successful completion of an Ebert Fellowship is an Honors project option. Go here for information about how to verify your participation as well as the deadline for HCLA form submission.