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The 2017-2018 IBM Ph.D. Fellowship nomination period is now closed.

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.

About the program

About the 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 that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation in many academic disciplines and areas of study. This includes pioneering work in: cognitive computing and augmented intelligence; quantum computing; blockchain; data-centric systems; advanced analytics; security; radical cloud innovation; next-generation silicon (and beyond); and brain-inspired devices and infrastructure.

The academic disciplines and areas of study include: computer science and engineering, electrical and mechanical engineering, physical sciences (including chemistry, material sciences, and physics), mathematical sciences (including big data analytics, operations research, and optimization), public sector and business sciences (including urban policy and analytics, social technologies, learning systems and cognitive computing), and Service Science, Management, and Engineering (SSME), and industry solutions (healthcare, life sciences, education, energy & environment, retail and financial services).

IBM brings together hundreds of researchers who possess deep industry expertise across domains. Collaborating with clients in the field and in its global THINKLab network, IBM addresses some of the most challenging problems and creates disruptive technologies that hold the potential to transform companies, industries and the world at large. For more than seven decades, IBM has collaborated with clients and universities to work on multi-disciplinary projects that quickly lead to prototypes, as well as long-term projects that last for years. IBM has an environment that nurtures some of the most innovative and creative thinking in the world.

Additionally, IBM Research is paying special attention to the following areas of focus for 2017-2018:

  • 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.

Preference will be given to students who have had an IBM internship or have closely collaborated with technical or services people from IBM.

The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards program also supports our long-standing commitment to workforce diversity. IBM values diversity in the workplace and encourages nominations of women, minorities and all who contribute to that diversity.

Awardees will have an opportunity to be recognized on IBM websites and communications.

Program scope

Program scope

The IBM Ph.D. Fellowships are awarded worldwide. IBM Ph.D. Fellows are awarded a stipend for one academic year. Fellowships vary by country/geographic area, and the students will be informed at the time of the award what the value is for their country/geographic area.

All IBM Ph.D. Fellows are matched with an IBM Mentor according to their technical interests, and they are strongly encouraged to participate in at least one internship at IBM while completing their studies. Interns are paid by their host site and will be subject to the prevailing terms and conditions of the internship program at that site. IBM is an equal opportunity employer.

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 Award Recipient's continued exceptional academic standing, progress and achievement, and sustained interaction with IBM's technical community. A student may compete annually and be awarded a maximum of three years. IBM requests that a maximum of two nominations per department be submitted, in addition to any renewal nominations.



Students must be nominated by a doctoral faculty member and enrolled full-time in a college or university Ph.D. program. 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. Students from U.S. embargoed countries are not eligible for the program. 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 academic progress to-date, as evidenced by publications and endorsements from their faculty advisor and department head. While students may accept other supplemental fellowships, to be eligible for the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award they may not accept a major award in addition to the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship.


For further information, see frequently asked questions or contact