O’Brien Fellowship In Public Service Journalism

Application for O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism is ongoing!

Backed by Marquette University, the O’Brien Fellowship helps news professionals dig deep while mentoring student journalists.

Read through this piece for details on how to apply for this grand opportunity.

About O’Brien Fellowship

“The O’Brien Fellowship was a career-changing experience because it gave me the opportunity to work on a project I’ve been thinking about for years — bringing the best practices to Milwaukee to improve the lives of those in need.”

The program honors Marquette alumni Alicia and Perry O’Brien. Their daughter, Patricia Frechette, and her husband, Peter, donated $8.3 million in 2012 to create the fellowship. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a co-founder and partner.

Marquette University challenges students and staff to “be the difference” in improving the community. The Catholic and Jesuit institution has educated journalists for 100 years.


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 of up to $5,000. (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.
  • 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. 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.
  • The capacity to ensure the greatest possible exposure for the reporting once completed.

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 obrienfellows@marquette.edu 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.


This year’s application period runs from Dec. 1 through Jan. 21.


Frequently Asked Questions

Jan. 21.

Staff-employed or independent journalists residing in the United States or its territories.








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