Jerald and Virginia Bachman Research Fellowship on Change in American Youth


Jerald and Virginia Bachman

Jerald and Virginia Bachman

The Jerald and Virginia Bachman Fellowship supports graduate students to examine patterns and changes in the lifestyles and values of American youth and young adults, working with faculty and staff of and using data from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) project. Graduate students from the University of Michigan social science departments (e.g. Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Economics), the School of Social Work and the School of Education are eligible for this award.

MTF is a rich source of data based on large, annual, nationally representative surveys of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, as well as graduates followed into young- and mid-adulthood. The study was originally conceived by Jerald Bachman to measure a wide range of attitudes and behaviors, and to sort out changes linked to aging/maturation versus overall secular trends across wide age ranges. Eventually Bachman and his collaborator Lloyd Johnston were able to secure funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has supported the study continuously beginning with its first data collection in 1975. This ISR Sampler story explores the origins of the MTF.

Consistent with this funding, the study is widely recognized (indeed, often called a “gold standard”) for its reporting and analyses of data on substance use and related attitudes and behaviors. But the range of measures is far broader than that, including self-concepts, plans and aspirations, and views on a host of social issues. Many of these areas of data have yet to be analyzed extensively; this fellowship is intended to encourage and facilitate such analyses.

There have been dramatic changes in many of the areas measured by MTF, including racial attitudes, attitudes about sex roles, preferences about marriage and the sharing of responsibilities between spouses, views about the U.S. military and military service, and views about the environment, to name only a few. Applicants are encouraged to examine the range of available measures and propose analyses to shed light on one or more of the areas (question wordings and response distributions for the 2012 survey of 12th grade students are available here, or this is the entire list of variables). Analyses could also make use of the MTF cohort-sequential design which follows high school seniors into adulthood with repeated surveys first at two-year intervals and later at five-year intervals. Professor Bachman and other principal investigators may be available for assistance.

Application Process

Please see the Fellowships & Awards Homepage for award amounts and application deadlines, updated at the beginning of each calendar year. The application for the Bachman Research Fellowship can be accessed here: The project supported by the Bachman Research Fellowship should examine the patterns and changes in the lifestyles and values of American youth and young adults. This project focus should be outside of the area of substance use and related attitudes and behaviors (though those measures may be used as independent variables).

The application includes:

  1. Proposal – a brief, three page, single-spaced, description of the project, including how the project meets the goals of the Bachman Fund, sufficient detail about hypothesis and design, and a description of the proposed uses for the award including budget and timeline.
  2. CV
  3. One Letter of Recommendation from your advisor, department chair, dissertation advisor, or committee members stating the strength of the application and vouchsafing the candidate’s eligibility as well as supporting the likelihood of completing the proposed research.

As part of the application process, there are questions that ask for some of the same information as above. Those questions are meant to be answered in about 3 sentences.

If you have any questions about the award process, please send an email to

Additional Expectations

  • At one year mark, you will be asked to share an update about the status of your research.
  • Acknowledge ISR and this award’s support in publications and presentations.

Bachman Fellowship Recipients

Berenice Castillo, 2019, U-M Department of Psychology and the School of Social Work
Michael Fang, 2018, U-M Joint Doctoral Program in Public Policy and Social Science and the Population Studies Center
Yuan He, 2017, U-M Department of Sociology

To support this fund and make future awards possible, please visit our Next Generation Giving Page.