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Find answers to the most common questions about the Ph.D. Fellowship Awards program.

  • - What is the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program?

    The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program is an intensely competitive worldwide program, which honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems of interest to IBM and which are fundamental to innovation including, innovative software, new types of computers, technology, and interdisciplinary projects that create social and business value.

  • - Who is eligible for IBM Ph.D. Fellowships?

    Nominations are welcome for students of all nationalities. Students must be nominated by a doctoral faculty member. The faculty member is encouraged to contact an IBM colleague prior to submitting the nomination to assure mutual interest. Students from Europe and Russia may be nominated in their first year of study in their doctoral program. Outside of Europe and Russia, students must have completed at least one year of study in their doctoral program at the time of their nomination. Non-U.S. Citizens who wish to participate in an internship in the U.S. must obtain work authorization under the specifics of their particular visa. Students from U.S. embargoed countries are not eligible for the program.

  • - Must I be a citizen of the country of application to qualify?

    No; however, IBM may solicit local country residency and citizenship information for legal compliance purposes as part of the award process. IBM is a U.S. headquartered company and complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

  • - When is the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship nomination period?

    Nominations for the annual Ph.D. Fellowship program begin the 3rd week of September and are accepted for 5 weeks.
    Notification of nominee status takes place in March of the following year.

  • - Am I eligible if I hold more than one fellowship/scholarship during the award period?

    While students may accept other supplemental fellowships, to be eligible for the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship they may not accept a major award in addition to the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship.

    Eligibility in Europe and Russia: While students may accept government scholarships and other supplemental fellowships, to be eligible for the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award they may not accept a major award.

    Please contact with any questions.

  • - Where can I get the forms for an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship nomination?

    All nominations for the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship must be submitted by faculty electronically over the Web on a standardized form to facilitate an open and uniform competition. The nomination form will be available on the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Program website from September 15 to October 25, 2016.

  • - What is needed to submit an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship nomination?

    The Faculty Advisor must complete the form in one session. We recommend that you read through the entire form first to understand what information is expected, gather the necessary materials and then complete the form. You will be asked to provide information about the student, yourself (the Faculty Advisor), the Department Head and University Administration. You will be asked to attach the student's CV. Correspondence via e-mail is necessary to complete the nomination process and all information provided will not be used for any purpose beyond the scope of the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship program. Input to lengthy fields (such as the department head's supporting statement) may be provided by copy-and-paste from another document (Word or other text format).

    If the nominated student is awarded, you may be asked to provide additional documentation before payment is rendered. Details would be provided to you in those circumstances.

  • - Can students submit nominations themselves?

    No. Students must be nominated by a faculty member. The nomination form must be prepared and submitted by a faculty member. We suggest faculty coordinate their nomination(s) with their department chair because there is a limit of two new nominations per department.

  • - Is there a limit to the number of applications that a department may submit?

    IBM requests that no more than two nominations per department be submitted, in addition to any renewal nominations.

  • - What information does a student have to submit?

    A student does not submit any nomination or documentation to IBM; only faculty may nominate students. A nomination includes the student's CV, faculty nominator's supporting statement, department head's supporting statement, Ph.D. thesis title, and a brief description of Ph.D. thesis work.

  • - What are the effective dates of the 2017-2018 IBM Ph.D. Fellowship?

    The 2017-2018 Fellowship begins in the fall semester of 2017 and covers the academic year. The associated internship may be a summer assignment in 2017 or 2018, or an on-site assignment during the academic year, depending on the arrangements made between the Award Recipient and her/his IBM Mentor and faculty advisor.

  • - Can an IBM employee apply for a Ph.D. Fellowship?

    IBM Ph.D. Fellowships are not intended for IBM employees. IBM employees have an education reimbursement/leave program at their disposal and employees must work with their managers on eligibility for IBM assistance.

  • - Does the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship continue until the Award Recipient finishes the Ph.D.?

    IBM Ph.D. Fellowships are awarded for one academic year. After receiving an award, an Award Recipient may be renominated the following year for consideration to receive another IBM Ph.D. Fellowship based on the student's continued exceptional academic standing, progress, achievement, and sustained interaction with IBM's technical community. A student may compete annually and be awarded a maximum of three years.

  • - Why do Nominees need to indicate a particular technical career interest?

    The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship holds significant opportunities for Ph.D. students to interact with a wide range of IBM technical people. By stating whether the Nominee's technical interests are more aligned with activities in IBM Research, within an IBM product or technology development laboratory, or in the Services arena, we can better match the Nominee to a suitable Mentor. We can also better plan an internship assignment that benefits the student's thesis research.

  • - What are the focus areas that IBM pays special attention to?

    IBM pays special attention to an array of focus areas, such as:

    • Quantum Computing
      IBM Research has made quantum computing available to anyone through a first-of-a-kind quantum computing platform delivered via the IBM Cloud. IBM scientists built a cloud-enabled quantum computing platform called IBM Quantum Experience that allows users to run algorithms and experiments on IBM’s five quantum bit (qubit) processor, work with the individual qubits, and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing. By giving hands-on access to IBM’s experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology.
    • Cognitive Computing
      The availability of large amounts of structured and unstructured data from business and public records, mobile devices, sensors and social media has brought the traditional artificial intelligence discipline to the era of cognitive computing. The active areas of research include natural language processing, assisted and automated machine learning, creation of knowledge representations and scalable querying techniques, multimedia analytics, contextual computing, recommendation and reasoning systems, a close collaboration between humans and machines on human terms, a rich platform and tools that support the creation and support of the cognitive applications, etc. IBM Research is closely tied to IBM Watson for taking the research technology to market.
    • Cloud and distributed computing technology and solutions

      Next generation computer hardware and software architecture will enable the systems and datacenters of the future, providing the foundation for our enterprise cloud computing capabilities. The next-generation software architecture will provide contextual, adaptive security and compliance and enable DevOps solutions that remove bottlenecks in software development to achieve continuous delivery of software-driven innovation. Applying lean and agile principles across the software life cycle, DevOps addresses culture, process and tools to drive faster innovation and feedback that ultimately improve the customer experience

    • Fundamental science and technology
      New materials, devices, and processes to extend core semiconductor logic and memory technology further into the nanotechnology regime, new bleeding edge technologies for future microprocessors, memories and systems, and new computing devices and architectures (e.g. neuromorphic and quantum) beyond the conventional von Neumann architecture and technologies towards advanced wearables, machine intelligence and cognitive environments.
  • - Is the internship mandatory?

    The internship is not mandatory; but, it is encouraged. Many IBM Ph.D. Fellowship interns tell us that the internships help them to understand the industrial research, development environment or services arena, which helps in making better career decisions. It also broadens their range of technical contacts and strengthens their technical experience.

  • - How are IBM Ph.D. Fellowship recipients selected?

    Award Recipients will be selected based on their overall potential for research excellence, the degree to which their technical interests align with those of IBM, and their progress to-date, as evidenced by publications and endorsements from their faculty advisor and department head. Preference will be given to students who have had an IBM internship or have closely collaborated with technical or services people from IBM, or have co-authored papers, or have faculty research advisors who are close IBM collaborators.

  • - How will I know if my Nominee is awarded an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship?

    The award recipients will be finalized in March 2017. All nominees will receive an email shortly thereafter of their nomination status. A formal letter of congratulations will be sent to the award winners within a few weeks after the emails are sent.

  • - How do I find out the use of my personal data?

    The information provided in the Ph.D. Fellowship application is used for making our decision for the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship award only. Your privacy is of utmost importance to us. The data retention period for the personal data is seven years as the awards are processed donations and subject to US Tax Law. With direct permission from the student we may post announcements internal and external to IBM. To learn more about IBM's data privacy, read IBM's Privacy statement. For a particular inquiry please send an email to

  • - What are the award payment documentation requirements for PhD Fellowship Awardees?

    Please note, because IBM PhD Fellowship awards to students are governed by US charitable giving rules and regulations, the recipient institutions may be required to provide additional documentation. After awards have been announced, you will be contacted with the specific requirements.

  • - When can I expect my IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award payment?

    The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship payments are sent out to the university by August 29, 2017. Awards are payable to the University or Foundation, not directly to the student awardee. We will contact the Finance Administrator for the department (designated in the Nomination Form by the Faculty Advisor) to confirm details for payment.

  • - Are IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award Recipients expected to submit a report at the end of the academic year?

    No. There is no requirement for Award Recipients to document their activities while holding an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship. However, a nomination for award renewal would be greatly strengthened by a summary of achievements made under the previous year's Award.

  • - As a nominated candidate how do I gain access to the information provided by the faculty?

    You may request a copy of the submitted nomination form from the Faculty who submitted the form. Alternatively, you may contact and you will receive a copy within three business days.

  • - What if I have more questions?

    Address all questions to You will receive an answer within three business days.