Finding fellowships for international postdoctoral study

September 26, 2023

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After completing doctoral studies, researchers are faced with entering the job market; for many, postdoctoral experience is a must, regardless of if they want to pursue a career in academia. In the United States, different groups of newly minted PhDs (such as women1 or foreign-born Asians2) find they have no job offers, leaving them with no choice but to pursue a postdoctoral role. The number of individuals who choose to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship is growing, while the availability of such positions is shrinking.3 Depending on your home country and your field, the funding available to you may vary widely. For those who cannot find a position offering a salary and funds for research, finding a fellowship and a host institution may be a better choice.

We’ve gathered postdoctoral fellowships from around the globe that are not restricted by country of origin. Most of these selections cover a broad range of fields, and may support research at a particular institution, within a certain country, or within the region itself. The broadest fellowships are, of course, open internationally, and we’ve highlighted three choices that would allow you to study globally.

Program

Link

AXA Fellowship

Fellowship Homepage

Human Frontier Science Program Fellowship

Fellowship Homepage

TWAS fellowships

Fellowship Homepage

The AXA Fellowships are two-year fellowships funded by AXA S.A., a French multinational insurance company. Through the AXA Research Fund, it supports research aimed at understanding and preventing risks threatening the environment, human life, and society across multiple disciplines. Providing a budget of up to €140,000 per individual, researchers who are PhD+5 years with a strong academic record are invited to apply with ‘transformative’ projects within the scope of the research fund4.

For those looking to study at an institution within Europe, we’ve selected five postdoctoral fellowships inviting international researchers to apply. The largest and most prestigious of these are the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowships, a massive program with a yearly budget of €1 billion, Horizon Europe funds international researchers to conduct research within the European Research Area.5 Though the MSCA support researchers at several different stages of their careers, one of the biggest draws is the postdoctoral fellowship opportunities.

Program

Location

Link

Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers

Germany

Fellowship Homepage

Royal Society Newton International Fellowships

United Kingdom

Fellowship Homepage

Max Planck Society Postdoctoral Fellowships

Germany

Fellowship Homepage

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships

Europe

Fellowship Homepage

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) Postdoctoral Fellowships

Switzerland

Fellowship Homepage

For those looking to conduct research in Asia, we’ve selected five postdoctoral fellowships that allow individuals to conduct research within a certain country or at select institutions. The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellowship program is a robust project that was founded in 1979 in conjunction with the Royal Society in the UK and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in West Germany. Since then, it has grown to host researchers at Japanese institutions from dozens of countries. Researchers who are PhD+6 years are invited to apply for fellowships that last from 12 to 24 months. Successful researchers are awarded a monthly stipend of ¥362,000, as well as their ticket, overseas insurance, and financial assistance in relocating to Japan.8

Program

Location

Link

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowships

Japan

Fellowship Homepage

Lee Kuan Yew Postdoctoral Fellowship

Singapore

Fellowship Homepage

Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship

Singapore

Fellowship Homepage

Chinese Government Scholarship Scheme

China

Scholarship Homepage

Excellence Fellowship Program for International Postdoctoral Researchers

Israel

Fellowship Homepage

The Sydney Horizon Fellowships allow up to 40 researchers to undertake postdoctoral study in an Australian institution, specifically looking to support research that focuses on the impacts of (or building resilience to) climate change, improving public health outcomes, and increasing overall sustainability. These fellowships are for a five-year term and provide a research stipend of $100,000 AUD annually, as well as a salary of $113,000–160,000 AUD annually (as well as a 17% pension fund!). Eligible researchers are PhD+10; applications from all research areas are invited to apply, as long as they address one of the three main topics the Sydney Horizon Fellowships target.6 Outside of the Sydney Horizon Fellowships, we’ve highlighted an additional four postdoctoral programs within the Oceania region.

Program

Location

Link

Sydney Horizon Fellowships

Australia

Fellowship Homepage

Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowships

New Zealand

Fellowship Homepage

Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) Australia

Australia

Award Homepage

Marsden Fund Fast-Start Grant

New Zealand

Grant Homepage

Monash University Malaysia Postdoctoral Fellowships

Malaysia

Fellowship Homepage

If you are more interested in participating in research in the Global South, you may be looking to South or Central America. Postdoctoral fellowships specifically funding research in these areas were much harder to come by, which in turn underlines the need for more funding and more research in these regions. The eurekaSD project is the result of a partnership between 11 Latin American higher education institutions, 9 European higher education institutions, and 40 associated partners. This partnership allows citizens of Europe and Latin America the opportunity to conduct scholarly research in a host institution. Outside of postdoctoral fellowships (which award of a monthly stipend of €1800), this partnership also provides scholarships for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty wishing to conduct research abroad.7

Program

Location

Link

EUREKA SD Project

Latin America

Project Homepage

FAPESP’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship

Brazil

Fellowship Homepage

Mexico Government Scholarship

Mexico

Scholarship Homepage

Postdoctoral scholarship opportunities were also hard to uncover in Africa. Most of what we found were fellowships that allowed the mobility of African scholars to other countries; however, as research in the Global South is woefully underrepresented, we felt these opportunities were important to highlight for any recent PhD graduates in Africa looking to take on a postdoctoral opportunity.

Program

Location

Link

African Postdoctoral Training Initiative

Africa

Program Homepage

Africa Research Excellence Fund

Africa

Program Homepage

NRF Freestanding Postdoctoral Fellowships in South Africa

South Africa

Fellowship Homepage

Residential Postdoctoral Fellowships

Africa

Fellowship Homepage

Sultan Qaboos Cultural Centre

Oman

Program Homepage

The African Postdoctoral Training Initiative (APTI) offers four-year fellowships in which African researchers are placed in National Institute of Health (NIH) Institutes or Centers through a partnership between the African Academy of Sciences, the NIH, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These fellowships are largely focused on health-related fields with the goal of training a new generation of scientists who can return to their home institutions and provide novel insights and leadership. These fellowships have been awarded on a two-year cycle, so the next cycle is likely to be for 2025. Individuals receive a full salary for the first two years, and a 50% salary for the final two years, allowing them to transition to the state of independent researcher more gradually than the abrupt end of funding.9

If a fellowship with the NIH appeals to you but you aren’t eligible for the APTI, the NIH also offers postdoctoral fellowships for researchers to come to the USA to conduct research at an NIH institution. Alternatively, if you’re looking for postdoctoral fellowships outside of the medical fields, you may consider a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship or a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. The Fulbright program allows US citizens to travel abroad for postdoctoral study and non-US citizens to conduct their postdoctoral research in the US, whereas the Banting fellowship allows Canadian citizens to travel abroad for postdoctoral study and non-Canadian citizens to conduct their postdoctoral research in Canada. Both have a broad scope of acceptable fields. On average, Fulbrights can last anywhere from 3­ to 24 months with stipends depending on the host institution,10 whereas the Banting Fellowships are two years in duration and awards a stipend of $70,000 CAD/year.11

Program

Location

Link

NIH Postdoc Fellows

USA

Fellowship Homepage

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship

Canada

Fellowship Homepage

Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship

USA

Scholarship Homepage

CIHR Fellowship

Canada

Fellowship Homepage

IVADO Postdoctoral Scholarship Program

Canada

Scholarship Homepage

If traveling abroad during your postdoctoral stint doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of fellowships offered at the institution or country level for domestic researchers. If a traditional fellowship may not suit you, you can also fund your research through collecting individual grants and finding a supportive host institution.


References

  1. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0231567#sec002
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/016146811611801106
  3. https://nap.nationalacademies.org/cataloThe%20Postdoctoral%20Experience%20Revisited.g/18982/the-postdoctoral-experience-revisited
  4. https://www.axa-research.org/en/page/AXA-Fellowships
  5. https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe/marie-sklodowska-curie-actions_en
  6. https://www.sydney.edu.au/research/research-funding/research-fellowships/sydney-horizon-fellowships.html
  7. http://eureka-sd-project.eu/general_information
  8. https://www.jsps.go.jp/english/e-fellow/e-ippan/index.html
  9. https://aasciences.africa/Programmes/APTI
  10. https://fulbrightscholars.org/awards/search
  11. https://banting.fellowships-bourses.gc.ca/en/home-accueil.html
Organizational Spotlight: The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Organizational Spotlight: The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Organizational Spotlight: The European Research Commission (ERC)
Organizational Spotlight: The European Research Commission (ERC)
Organizational Spotlight: The Fulbright Program
Organizational Spotlight: The Fulbright Program
Organizational Spotlight: UK Research and Innovation
Organizational Spotlight: UK Research and Innovation
Funding Spotlight: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)
Funding Spotlight: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

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