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.

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

    Nominations for the 2015-2016 academic year will be accepted from September 18 to October 28, 2014. Notification of nominee status takes place in February of 2015.

  • - 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 18 to October 28, 2014.

  • - 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 a word processor file.

  • - 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 2015-2016 IBM Ph.D. Fellowship?

    The 2015-2016 Fellowship begins in the fall semester of 2015 and covers the academic year. The associated internship may be a summer assignment in 2015 or 2016, 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 and social value
      Close interaction with clients to develop innovative solutions to solve their toughest technical challenges. Examples include data analytics for drug discovery, social media analytics for new business models in retail, design of enterprise mobile applications, etc. The IBM Customer Experience Lab at the Watson Research Center provides a unique environment for researchers to work hand in hand with clients, using the latest technology platforms to develop and deliver innovative solutions for the most demanding industry needs.
    • Cognitive Computing research
      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. Individuals, professionals and businesses need help from cognitive machines to make sense of the many things that concern them on a near- real time basis. 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 the IBM Watson Group for taking the research technology to market.
    • Cloud and distributed computing technology and solutions

      The next generation computer hardware architecture will enable the systems and datacenters of the future, providing the foundation for our enterprise cloud computing capabilities. Some specific enablers include: accelerators, components and performance tuning technologies; storage and compute (Power, Mainframe) system technologies, composable (dis-aggregated) systems inclusive of compute migration to memory; storage and throughout the system hierarchy; next-generation networking architecture and switching technology enabling datacenter "flattening" and associated software such as system compilers, operating systems (AIX, Z/OS), general parallel file system and object store.

      The next-generation software architecture will provide (a) contextual and adaptive security and compliance and enable (b) foundations for solutions providers inclusive of a very agile feedback-driven Dev/Ops cycle, business insights through a system of insight cloud platform that marries systems of engagement and systems of record data and the building blocks of the next-generation API economy; (c) hybrid cloud foundations for enterprise client workloads, where data and programs are in many places including public and private machines; and (d) container cloud capabilities. Some specific enablers for all of these include: application integration middleware; programming languages, models, runtimes and tools; software engineering methodology inclusive of experiment execution and app refinement; cloud platform/infrastructure, storage and networking services and enhanced labor centric service delivery through automation, optimization and analytics.

    • Fundamental science and technology
      New materials, devices, and processes to extend core logic and memory technology roadmaps further into the nanotechnology regime, and new computing devices and architectures beyond the conventional von Neumann architecture such as neuromorphic and quantum.
  • - 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 2015. 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 28, 2015. They are shipped to the faculty member who submitted 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. 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.