Pioneering PhD Scholarship Opportunity is Focused on Creative Thinking

October 20, 2021

This fall, in partnership with producer, musician, author and film director Questlove and whisky producer The Balvenie, University of the Arts will present one creative thinker with an opportunity to participate in UArts' PhD in Creativity program through an innovative scholarship program. 

The recipient of the Balvenie Fellow in the PhD in Creativity will be fully funded in the three-year program, the next cohort of which will begin in June 2022. It is open to anyone age 21 and older from anywhere in the United States, and applications will be accepted through Nov. 15. The winning candidate will be selected by Questlove, in partnership with UArts and The Balvenie. 

Besides a two-week intensive summer immersion program and a return visit to Philadelphia in the winter of the first year, all coursework will be completed remotely. Application requirements and a timeline are available at

"The PhD in Creativity program was created to remove the constraints that many higher education programs have, and allow students to fully embrace new ideas and innovation in ways they may not normally have in other fields," said Jonathan Fineberg, program director for the PhD in Creativity. "Questlove and The Balvenie share the PhD program's core ethos that reimagines how we think about craft, in its many forms, and we're thrilled to be giving a student an opportunity to explore their own creative journey with this scholarship."

UArts' PhD in Creativity was born in 2015, when President Emeritus David Yager met Fineberg at a conference on cross-disciplinary thinking in art and science sponsored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Both were invited to serve on the conference's steering committee, and their engagement led to collaboration in building a radically re-envisioned PhD program. Based on the notion that creative thinking is at the heart of all innovation, it was destined for this first-ever PhD program to be hosted at an arts school and begin with an intense focus on creative thinking. 

The scholarship's announcement is tied to the launch of Quest for Craft: Season One, which debuts on YouTube Oct. 28. Hosted by Questlove, best known for his roles as a founding member of The Roots and musical director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the show will highlight the vital intersection of craft and creativity through conversations with four iconic creative minds. The first season's guests will be Grammy Award-winning music producer Jimmy Jam, Saturday Night Live writer and cast member Michael Che, musician Patti Smith and author Malcolm Gladwell.