University Awards

Supporting research, curriculum innovation, and educational assistance

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.

  • - 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 nomination website from September 19 to October 29, 2013.

  • - What if I start an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship nomination and cannot finish?

    You can save your nomination and return to complete it at a later time. Simply return to the nomination form on the website and re-enter your IBM Registration ID and password.

  • - 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 her nomination with her 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 (CV, research proposal and letter)?

    A student does not submit any nomination or documentation to IBM, only faculty may nominate students. At the initial stage, 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 2014-2015 IBM Ph.D. Fellowship?

    The 2014-2015 Fellowship begins in the fall semester of 2014 and covers the academic year. The associated internship may be a summer assignment in 2014 or 2015, 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 IBM Global 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:

    • Technology that creates new business or social value: Tools to build smarter cities and a smarter planet, modeling and data analysis, optimization, risk and compliance, cyber security, urban policy and analytics, tools for globalization, information-based medicine and health care management, service science, management and engineering (SSME)
    • Innovative software: HCI, massive scale data and analytics with uncertainty, new expressive ways of manipulating computers, programming models and tools, cognitive computing, learning systems, social and mobile computing, Internet of things
    • New types of computers: Use of massive parallelism for non-scientific/engineering applications, multi-core and hybrid systems, green computing, and nanotechnology
    • Interdisciplinary projects that create social and business value: Smart cities, water and energy modeling and management, and cloud computing
  • - 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 final award recipients will be finalized in mid-February 2014. 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 PhD Fellowship application is used for making our decision for the IBM PhD 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

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

    The IBM Ph.D Fellowship checks are sent out to the university by August 29, 2014. They are shipped to the faculty member in the nomination form. Checks are made payable to the student's university, unless a foundation is specified in the nomination form.

  • - 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. In lieu of that you may contact and you will receive a copy within two business days.

  • - What if I have more questions?

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