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Find answers to the most common questions about the IBM PhD Fellowship Awards Program

What is the IBM PhD Fellowship Awards Program?

The IBM PhD Fellowship Awards Program is an intensely competitive worldwide program, which honors exceptional PhD students who want to make their mark in promising and disruptive technologies. Focus areas include the following topics of particular interest:

  • AI / Cognitive Computing
  • Cloud / Open Source
  • Data Science
  • Internet of Things
  • Quantum Computing
  • Security / Cyber Security

Who is eligible for IBM PhD Fellowships?

Nominations are welcome for students of all nationalities. Students must be nominated by a doctoral faculty member. Students should have three years remaining in their graduate program at the time of nomination. For example, nominees that are enrolled in a four-year graduate program should have completed two years of their graduate program as of summer 2020 in order to benefit the most. Non-US Citizens who wish to participate in an internship in the US must obtain work authorization under the specifics of their visa. Students from US 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 US headquartered company and complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

When is the IBM PhD Fellowship nomination period?

Nominations for the annual IBM PhD 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/internship during the award period?

Students receiving a comparable fellowship or internship from another company or institution (does not include academic scholarships) during the same IBM funded academic period may not be eligible for an IBM PhD Fellowship.

Please contact with any questions.

Where can I get the forms for an IBM PhD Fellowship nomination?

All nominations for the IBM PhD 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 PhD Fellowship Awards Program website until October 29, 2019.

What is needed to submit an IBM PhD 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 be used in connection with the IBM PhD 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 made. We will provide you details 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 three nominations per department.

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

No more than three nominations per department may be submitted.

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, PhD thesis title, and a brief description of PhD thesis work.

What are the effective dates of the 2020 IBM PhD Fellowship?

The 2020 IBM PhD Fellowship begins in the fall semester of 2020 and covers the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years. The associated internship may be a summer assignment in 2020 or 2021, 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 or IBM contractor nominate a PhD student for an IBM PhD Fellowship award?

IBM employees, IBM supplemental employees and IBM contractors may not submit IBM PhD Fellowship nominations.

Can an IBM employee apply for an IBM PhD Fellowship?

IBM PhD Fellowships are not intended for IBM employees. IBM offers education reimbursement and leave programs and employees should work with their managers on eligibility.

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

Focus areas include the following topics of particular interest:

  • AI / Cognitive Computing
  • Cloud / Open Source
  • Data Science
  • Internet of Things
  • Quantum Computing
  • Security / Cyber Security

Is the internship mandatory?

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

How are IBM PhD 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.

How will I know if my Nominee is awarded an IBM PhD Fellowship?

The award recipients will be finalized in March 2020. 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 IBM PhD Fellowship application is used in connection with the IBM PhD Fellowship program. Your privacy is of utmost importance to us. The data retention period for the personal data is seven years as the awards are processed as contributions and subject to US Tax Law. 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 IBM 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 PhD Fellowship Award payment?

The IBM PhD Fellowship payments are sent out to the university by August 31, 2020. 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 PhD 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 PhD Fellowship.

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 nomination.

What if I have more questions?

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