Health Policy Research Scholars

2020 Call for Applications

    Release Date: January 10, 2020 | Application Deadline: Fri, 13 Mar 2020

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. We are facing many obstacles that pose challenges to this audacious vision—inequities in life expectancy across communities; high-cost health care but poorer quality of care and health; and more.

That’s why RWJF supports a number of leadership programs that aim to develop a generation of leaders who see that we need new approaches to these pressing problems. These programs support and connect leaders who are caring, curious, collaborative, and committed to taking risks and moving boldly toward real pathways to change—and to achieving greater equity in communities across our country.



Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS) is a four-year national leadership development program for full-time doctoral students from nonclinical, academic disciplines—who want to improve health, well-being, and equity; challenge long-standing, entrenched systems; exhibit new ways of working; and collaborate across disciplines and sectors.

We’ll select up to 60 scholars who will receive a stipend of $30,000 per year for up to four years or until they complete their doctoral program (whichever is sooner).

At completion of the program, scholars should:

  • Have extensive knowledge of the multiple determinants of health;
  • Be ready to apply research and cross-sector collaboration skills;
  • Use strategies to leverage diverse interdisciplinary networks of researchers;
  • Have the opportunity to establish meaningful and sustained relationships and collaborations with other RWJF change leaders and programs.

Do you share our vision to help build a Culture of Health—and do you want to take the next step in your leadership journey? For complete, see the Health Policy Research Scholars website.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Please note the updated eligibiltiy criteria below.

  • Applicants must be a full-time second or third year  doctoral student as of fall 2020 at a degree-granting institution based in the United States or its territories;
  • Applicants must have at least three (3) academic years remaining in their doctoral program and do not expect to graduate before spring/summer 2023;
  • Applicants must be from populations underrepresented in specific doctoral disciplines and/or marginalized backgrounds. Examples of eligible individuals include, but are not limited to: first-generation college graduates; individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds; individuals from communities of color; and individuals with disabilities; 
  • Applicants cannot be a recipient of a national fellowship program that prohibits participation in additional programs, such as HPRS;  
  • Applicants must be at least 21 years old as of September 1, 2020;
  • Federal, state, tribal and local government employees are eligible to apply unless they are considered government officials  under Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application. As federal policy or laws change, we may need to consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms; 
  • Applicants cannot be related by blood or marriage to any Officer  or Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson.

Key Dates

  • January 29, 2020 (1–2 p.m. ET)
    Optional applicant webinar. View a recording and slides.
  • March 13, 2020 (3 p.m. ET)
    Deadline for receipt of full applications, including references.
  • Late April–May 2020
    Semifinalist interviews, via web conference.
  • Mid-June 2020
    Notification of finalists.
  • July 9, 2020
    Deadline for receipt of finalist supplemental applications.
  • September 1, 2020
    Program begins. Stipend funding initiated for program participants.
  • Mid-September–early October 2020
    Onboarding webinars for scholars and mentors.
  • October 9–11, 2020
    Fall Institute, Baltimore, MD. (in-person attendance required for program participants).
  • 2020 or 2021 (date TBD by RWJF)
    RWJF Annual Leadership Institute, (on-site attendance required), date and location TBD.

Total Awards

  • Number of scholars in the 2020 cohort: up to 60 
  • Grant funds from RWJF will include:
    • Stipend: $30,000, per year for up to four years or until you complete your doctoral program (whichever is sooner).
    • Administrative fee: Home Institutions may include an administrative fee of $1,000 per year, $4,000 in total to the grant amount to cover the administrative costs of managing the award. 

Application is Now Closed

Application closed as of:
March 13, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET