Health Policy Research Scholars

2021 Call for Applications

    Release Date: January 13, 2021 | Application Deadline: Wed, 17 Mar 2021

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 and overall health across communities; high-cost health care but poorer quality of care and health outcomes; 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 diverse country.


Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS) is a four-year national leadership development program for full-time doctoral students from nonclinical, research-focused disciplines—who see policy as a key lever for change and are committed to ensuring their research is aligned with the health needs of communities. The program aims to include doctoral students motivated to improve health, well-being, and equity; challenge long-standing, entrenched systems; exhibit new ways of working; and collaborate across disciplines and sectors, while bolstering their leadership skills.

We’ll select up to 40 scholars who will receive a stipend of $30,000 each per year paid to their home institutions, for up to four years or until they complete their doctoral program (whichever is sooner). Scholars will also be eligible for competitive dissertation grants of up to $10,000 each, as well as competitive conference and research dissemination grants, awarded by the national program center directly to the scholars.

At completion of the program, HPRS scholars should be equipped:

  • With extensive knowledge of a Culture of Health, health policy, leadership, systems change, and communication;
  • To apply research and interdisciplinary collaboration skills to engage multiple sectors (e.g., policy, education, business, communities, institutions, and agencies);
  • To use strategies to leverage diverse interdisciplinary networks of researchers;
  • With the opportunity to establish meaningful and sustained relationships and collaborations with HPRS and other RWJF leadership programs and participants;
  • To contribute to research and a national dialogue on the policy changes necessary for a Culture of Health.

Do you share our vision to help build a Culture of Health? And do you want to use research and leadership skills to become a change agent for more equitable and actionable research that will inform policy change? For complete details and how to apply, see the Health Policy Research Scholars website.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

  • Applicants must be a full-time, second-year doctoral student as of fall 2021 at a degree-granting institution based in the United States or its territories;
  • Applicants must have at least three academic years remaining in their doctoral program and not expect to graduate before spring/summer 2024;
  • Applicants must be from populations underrepresented in specific doctoral disciplines and/or marginalized backgrounds. Examples of marginalized backgrounds include, but are not limited to, first-generation college graduates; individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds; individuals from communities of color; and individuals with disabilities. If an applicant is applying because their background is underrepresented in a specific discipline, or from a marginalized background not listed above, the applicant must clearly describe how they meet the eligibility criteria.
  • 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, 2021;
  • 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.

*Refer to the full call for applications for additional details.

Key Dates

  • February 2, 2021 (1–2 p.m. ET)
    View the applicant webinar and slides.
  • March 17, 2021 (3 p.m. ET)
    Deadline for receipt of full applications, including references.
  • May 2021
    Semifinalist interviews, via web conference.
  • Mid-June 2021
    Notification of finalists.
  • July 13, 2021
    Deadline for receipt of finalist supplemental applications.
  • September 1, 2021
    Program begins. Stipend funding initiated for program participants.
  • Mid-September–early October 2021
    Onboarding webinars for scholars and mentors.
  • October 8–10, 2021
    Fall Institute, Baltimore, MD. (in-person attendance required* for program participants).
  • 2022 (date TBD by RWJF)
    RWJF Annual Leadership Institute, (in-person attendance required*), date and location TBD.

* Any required in-person meetings are pending a safe resolution of the pandemic. Until then, we may modify that requirement to offer virtual meetings. We will notify participants after this determination has been made.

Total Awards

  • Number of scholars in the 2021 cohort: up to 40 
  • 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 17, 2021, 3:00 p.m. ET

Key Contacts

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Phone: (410) 502-5530