Frequently Asked Questions

What does the fellowship award cover?

The Harkness Fellowship Award provides up to U.S. $130,000 in support. In general, the fellowship provides: round-trip airfare to the United States, a fixed monthly stipend for the fellows' living expenses in the United States, funds to attend The Commonwealth Fund program of fellowship seminars, funds for project-related travel and other research expenses, health insurance coverage while in the United States, and payment of U.S. federal and state withholding taxes. An additional family supplement is provided to fellows accompanied by a partner and/or children (approximately $60,000 for a partner and two children up to the age of 18).

Can I bring my family?

Yes, absolutely, Harkness Fellows are encouraged to bring their families! The fellowship year is an adventure for partners and children as well, and most fellows are accompanied by their families for most, if not all, of their fellowship year. The Fellowship Award provides a monthly stipend for families.

What are the requirements of the Fellowship?

Fellows are expected to publish the results of their fellowship research in a peer-reviewed journal and/or in a report for Health Ministers and senior government officials. Fellows' research findings are also formally presented at the Harkness Fellows' annual final reporting seminar.

In addition to the reporting and publication requirements, Fellows are also expected to attend the seminars and policy briefings organized by the Fund. These include orientation, a qualitative research methodology workshop, the International Symposium, the Washington Policy Briefing, and the Final Reporting Seminar. Fellows also participate in a series of leadership seminars organized by the Fund throughout the year, with U.S. health care leaders drawn from government, politics, health care organizations, and academia. A full schedule of these activities is provided to each Fellow prior to their arrival in the U.S.

What is included in the application?

All candidates must complete a formal application, including a statement of personal objectives and a preliminary research proposal. Applicants are also required to submit three published articles or reports, as well as their CV. Finally, letters of recommendation, including an institutional letter of reference and organizational support and three professional letters of reference are submitted separately. Please click here to access the application form.

Is there an age limit to apply for the Fellowship? What does mid-career mean?

There is no age limit for Harkness applicants. However, the fellowship is designed for professionals who are at a stage in their career where the Fellowship will have a significant impact on their career trajectory and can use their Fellowship experience to influence policy and practice in their home countries.

I applied last year. Can I apply again?

Yes. However, the Fund cannot provide critiques of declined applications.

Am I required to spend 12 months in the United States?

Fellows are strongly encouraged to spend 12 months in the United States in order to have enough time to complete their projects and take full advantage of all the opportunities that are available. A minimum of 10 months' tenure in the United States would be required.

Is there a list of suggested projects for Harkness applicants?

No. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit proposals based on original ideas, as long as the proposal aligns with The Commonwealth Fund's national program areas and supports a high performing health care system. See the Suggested Project Themes.

Can I see an example of a successful Harkness Fellowship research proposal?

Yes, for examples of successful Harkness Fellowship research proposals, see example 1 or example 2.

Do I need to know where I want to be placed, prior to applying?

No. The Fellowship application includes space for you to share any placement suggestions, and, if accepted, the Fund will work with you to ensure a suitable placement and mentor(s), based on your research interests and career objectives.

Do I need a home country mentor?

Applicants are encouraged to identify a home country mentor who will support their work upon their return and help ensure that the Fellowship research project is relevant to the home country agenda. In addition, the Fund pairs Harkness Fellows with alumni in their home countries who will also serve as mentors.

Can I contact former Harkness Fellows about their experiences with the Fellowship?

Yes. Click here to access contact information and bios for all former Harkess Fellows.

What kind of visa will I need?

Harkness Fellows enter the United States on a J-1 (Exchange Visitor–Research Scholar) visa. The Commonwealth Fund provides newly selected fellows with the documentation necessary to apply for visas for themselves and their families at the U.S. Embassy in their home country. For more information about the Exchange Visitor Program and application process and requirements for the J-1 visas, please click here.

What kind of visas will my family need?

The Commonwealth Fund provides newly selected fellows with the documentation necessary for themselves and their family (children under the age of 21) to apply for visas. Partners and children are issued J-2 visas. Please note that dependents may not work on a J-2 visa alone; an additional application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for permission to work is required. For more information about the application process and requirements for the J-2 visas, please click here.

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