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NIHR Fellowship Programme

The NIHR Fellowship Programme supports individuals on their trajectory to becoming future leaders in NIHR research.

Our four fellowships have been designed to support individuals at various points of their development in becoming leading researchers, from initial pre-doctoral training to senior post-doctoral research.

  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship launch date: Late January / February annually
  • Development and Skills Enhancement Award launch dates: January, May, September annually
  • Doctoral Fellowship launch dates: April, October annually
  • Advanced Fellowship launch dates: April, October annually

We are also partnering with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly-funded Partnership Fellowships at both Doctoral and Advanced levels. More details can be found in the NIHR Fellowships Summary and NIHR Fellowships FAQs.

Further Information

Call:  0113 532 8410 Email: Academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk, and detail which fellowship programme you are enquiring about in the subject area.

NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowships are designed to support people who are looking to start or advance a career in health research methodology, specifically in one of the following areas:

  • medical statistics
  • health economics
  • clinical trial design
  • operational research
  • modelling
  • bioinformatics
  • qualitative research
  • mixed methods
  • epidemiology

Applicants without a Masters degree should use the Fellowship to undertake a Masters degree in one of the areas listed. Those already holding a relevant masters degree (or currently completing one) should use the Fellowship to gain additional support and training to advance to the next level of their career. The Fellowship can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for a NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowship you must:

  • have completed a relevant first degree.
  • have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services
  • be proposing to develop a career as a methodologist in one of the areas listed above.

Applications open annually in late January/February to start from September the same year to March the following year. Exact dates are available close to the time of opening.

Check funding opportunities for details of latest funding rounds.

Please note, this Fellowship is not open to clinical applicants looking to undertake training in research methods.  Clinical applicants looking to develop a career as a clinical academic should consider schemes from the relevant clinical academic programmes provided by NIHR.

Useful resources for applicants

The NIHR Doctoral Fellowship is a three year full-time award that supports individuals to undertake a PhD in an area of NIHR research. This fellowship may also be taken up on a part-time basis of between 50% and 100% whole time equivalent (WTE).

Clinical applicants are able to include up to 20% clinical time as part of the fellowship, to ensure the maintenance of their clinical competence whilst undertaking the fellowship.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for an NIHR Doctoral Fellowship you must:

  • Have completed any relevant pre-registration training (for clinical academic applicants)
  • Have completed a first degree (for non-clinical applicants)
  • Have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services.
  • Be intending to register for and complete a PhD
  • Where already registered for a PhD (or MPhil with transfer to PhD), you should not have been registered for more than 12 months at 100% WTE by the time the award starts.

Full details of the latest funding rounds are available in funding opportunities.

Doctoral Timetable

Stage April launchOctober launch
Competition opens for applications for all Fellowships April  October 
Doctoral Stage 1 closing date for submission of online application August January
Doctoral Stage 2 invitation September  N/A
Doctoral Stage 2 deadline October  N/A 
Interviews held in Leeds November  June 
Awards start on 1st of month 1 April to 1 September 1 October to 1 March 


Partnership Fellowships

The NIHR has partnered with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly funded NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowships and with Pfizer to offer an NIHR Industry Partnership Fellowship. Details are available for the latest Fellowship Round in Funding Opportunities.

Jointly funded Partnership Fellowships enable researchers to:

  • Maintain and build a relationship with both the NIHR and a partner organisation
  • Engage with and receive valuable input from patient groups, making the most of the public and patient engagement/involvement opportunities available
  • Receive greater research exposure through a variety of media and communication channels.

Please refer to the Guidance Notes for  further details regarding the specific eligibility criteria for each partner (in addition to the standard eligibility criteria), the level of award available and the contact details for the relevant partner.

We encourage all applicants interested in applying for a jointly funded Partnership Fellowship to contact the relevant partner to discuss their research area of interest before they apply.

Please note, all other queries about the application process should be directed to the NIHR Academy.

Useful resources for applicants

The Advanced Fellowship is for those at a post-doctoral level and can be utilised at several specific points of a researcher’s career development.

The fellowship is between 2 and 5 years and can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis - between 50% and 100% whole time equivalent (WTE).

Advanced Fellowships will be available with a ‘clinical academic’ option, whereby clinical applicants will have the option to request up to 40% of their time be dedicated to clinical service/development which would be covered by the award.

When should you apply?

The NIHR Advanced Fellowship is aimed at individuals at various points of their career. You may have:  

  • Recently completed or be about to be awarded a PhD, but haven’t yet established yourself as an independent researcher
  • Established yourself as an independent researcher or you are in the process of doing so, but are not yet recognised as an international leader in your field
  • Transitioned into applied health research from a basic science background or re-established your research career following a significant career break.

In addition, you may use the Advanced Fellowship to undertake innovative knowledge mobilisation (to support the more effective use of research knowledge), whilst simultaneously researching implementation processes and impacts.

If you are unsure about your eligibility for the Advanced Fellowship, as related to your career stage, please contact the NIHR Academy office on 0113 532 8410 and a member of the team  will be happy to discuss your proposed application.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for an NIHR Advanced Fellowship you must:

  • Have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services
  • Hold a relevant PhD or MD, or have submitted your thesis for examination at the time of application (you must have been awarded a PhD or MD by the time you attend the interview)
  • Not already hold a Chair at the point of application
  • Complete the relevant pre-registration training (for clinical academic applicants).

Full details of the latest funding rounds are available in funding opportunities.

Advanced Fellowship Timetable 

 StageApril launchOctober launch
Competition opens for applications for all Fellowships April  October 
Advanced Fellowship Stage 1 closing date for submission of online application July January
Stage 2 invitation November  N/A 
Stage 2 deadline  December  N/A
Interviews held in Leeds January  July 
Awards start on 1st of month 1 April to 1 September  1 October to 1 March 


Partnership Fellowships

The NIHR has partnered with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly funded NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowships and with Pfizer to offer an NIHR Industry Partnership Fellowship. Details are available for the latest Fellowship Round in Funding Opportunities.

Jointly funded Partnership Fellowships enable researchers to:

  • Maintain and build a relationship with both the NIHR and a partner
  • Engage with and receive valuable input from patient groups, making the most of the public and patient engagement/involvement opportunities available
  • Receive greater research exposure through a variety of media and communication channels.

We encourage all applicants interested in applying for a jointly funded Partnership Fellowship to contact the relevant partner to discuss their research area of interest before they apply. Please note all other queries about the application process should be directed to the NIHR Academy.

Useful  resources for potential applicants

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, interviews for round 4 of the Advanced Fellowship competition calls will now be held virtually. Candidates will be informed of full details when invited to attend the interview.

The Development and Skills Enhancement Award (DSE) is a post-doctoral level award aimed at supporting NIHR Academy Members to gain specific skills and experience to underpin the next phase of their research career. Applicants need to demonstrate what new skills and experience they hope to gain through the award, and how it will benefit their future career in research. The award runs three times a year opening in January, May and September and will support a mixture of researcher-led applications and applications from areas of strategic importance. The current themes are:

  • health data science
  • clinical trials
  • entrepreneurship and working with industry

Eligibility criteria 

All applicants must:

  • be a current member of the NIHR Academy
  • have completed any relevant pre-registration training (clinical academic applications only)
  • have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services
  • hold a relevant PhD or MD, or have submitted their thesis for examination at the time of application – applicants must have been awarded their PhD or MD by the time they start
  • ensure that any previous NIHR awards undertaken finished no longer than 12 months ago – this does not include any time taken for statutory leave
  • have not submitted a DSE application in the previous round

Applicant Guidance Notes should be read before applying, which include more information regarding the eligibility criteria for the scheme. 

Check funding opportunities for details of latest funding rounds. 

Key dates

Exact dates will be available closer to the time of opening in funding opportunities.

Round opensRound closesFunding recommendation meetingStart date
January March May August to November
May July September December to March
September November January April to July

Latest blogs about the Academy

Latest documents for Fellowships

NIHR Doctoral Fellowship Rounds 1 - 4 Chairs’ Report

Chairs' report from rounds 1-4 of the NIHR Doctoral Fellowship

NIHR Doctoral Fellowship Round 2 Public Minutes

Public minutes for round 2 of the NIHR Doctoral Fellowship

NIHR Doctoral Fellowship Round 3 Public Minutes

Public minutes from round 3 of the NIHR Doctoral Fellowship

NIHR Doctoral Fellowship Round 4 Public Minutes

Public minutes for round 4 of the NIHR Doctoral Fellowship

NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowships Guidance Notes - Round 3, January 2021

The NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowships are designed to support people who are looking to start or advance a career in health and social care research methodology. Read the Guidance Notes to find out more.

All Fellowship documents

Latest funding opportunities for Fellowships

Pre-doctoral Fellowship Round 3

The Pre-Doctoral Fellowship provides career development funding for aspiring research methodologists.

Development and Skills Enhancement Award

The Development and Skills Enhancement Award (DSE) provides a maximum of 1 year of funding for post-doctoral NIHR Academy Members.

All Fellowship funding opportunities

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