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Apply for the Harkness Fellowship

Eligibility, Review, and Selection Criteria

Harkness Fellowships are designed for mid-career professionals who are committed to advancing health policy and practice in The Commonwealth Fund's principal areas of interest: improving health insurance coverage and access to care; and improving the quality and efficiency of health care services. Projects may include comparisons between the United States and the applicant's home country. Fellowships are not awarded to support study for academic degrees. All applicants must:

  • Be citizens of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, or the United Kingdom. Applicants who are not citizens of the country in which they are applying must have permanent residency and have lived in that country for at least the last three years. Such applicants must also be committed to pursuing careers in the country from which they are selected.
  • Show significant promise as a policy-oriented health services researcher or practitioner (clinician, health services manager, government official, or journalist);
  • Have a demonstrated expertise in health policy issues and a track record of informing health policy through research, policy analysis, health services, or clinical leadership;
  • Have a master's degree or doctorate (or the equivalent thereof) in health care services, health policy research, or a related discipline, such as economics or political science (consideration may be given to candidates with a bachelor's degree only, depending on work experience); and
  • If academically based, be at a mid-career level (e.g., research fellow to senior lecturer).

Applications are reviewed by Fund staff and a panel of experts appointed in each of the participating countries. A limited number of applicants will be invited for interviews, which will be conducted in December 2019 in Auckland (for New Zealand applicants) and Sydney (for Australian applicants), and in January or February 2020 in London (for U.K. applicants), Paris (for French applicants), Oslo (for Norwegian applicants), the Hague (for Dutch applicants), Berlin (for German applicants) and Toronto (for Canadian applicants). Awards are subject to approval by the Fund's president and are contingent upon the Fund's approval of a final project proposal, budget, and mentor/institutional placement.

The Fund does not provide critiques of applications that are declined. Candidates are selected based on their qualifications and leadership potential; their commitment to improving health care through research and practice; the quality of their research proposal; the relevance of their proposed research to the Fund's areas of interest and to policy development in their home country; and the strength of their supporting letters.


Application Process and Suggested Themes

All candidates must complete a formal application, including:

  • Statement of professional objectives;
  • Curriculum vitae;
  • Preliminary proposal (up to five pages) for a policy-oriented research project that fits within the Fund's national program areas;
  • Letter of reference from the applicant's department chair or from the director of his or her institution (more than one applicant may apply from the same institution. To see a copy of the letter that we will send as instructions for the institutional/organizational letter of referenceclick here
  • Three professional references from senior health policy researchers, policymakers, or senior level managers, who can comment on the applicant's past work and the potential contribution of his or her proposed project. To see a copy of the letter that we will send as instructions for the professional letter of reference, click here.
  • Three published articles or reports.

Candidates are encouraged to structure projects around topics presented in the Fund's List of Suggested Project Themes for Harkness Fellows in Health Care Policy and Practice, or to propose original ideas on other topics relevant to the Fund's work. 

All applicants are also strongly encouraged to explore what U.S. datasets are available related to their proposed project. Applicants may download a list of examples of such datasets, as well as further resources for identifying related datasets or ongoing projects.


How to Apply for the Harkness Fellowship in Health Care Policy and Practice

A PDF with detailed instructions for the online application is available here.

STEP 1 – REGISTRATION Prior to accessing the Harkness Online Application, the system will prompt you to register. Select "New User?" and enter the required information to create your account. 

STEP 2 – VERIFICATION OF REGISTRATION You will receive a verification email with the subject line "Thank you for registering! Please verify your Email." Use the link in the email to verify your account. 

STEP 3 – RETRIEVING THE ONLINE APPLICATION After you have verified your account you will receive a second email with the subject line "Welcome to the Commonwealth Community Portal for Grantees." Use the link in this email to access the login page  and begin your application. 

If you have any questions or difficulties using our online system please contact  

Harkness Application

Begin Your Application

Continue Your Application

2020–21 Harkness Fellowship Application Deadlines: 

  • Australia and New Zealand: Friday, September 6
  • Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, and UK: Monday, November 11

The 2020-21 application is not yet available but we encourage prospective applicants to use the following PDFs to begin preparing a submission offline.  

Please review the Suggested Project Themes before submitting your application to ensure that your project proposal is consistent with The Commonwealth Fund's priorities.  A PDF with detailed instructions for the online application is available here. 

If you have any technical questions about the Harkness application or reference letters please email Molly FitzGerald (

Individuals to Contact for Further Information

For further questions about the Harkness Fellowships and application process, contact:

Robin Osborn (all countries)
Vice President and Director
International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovations
The Commonwealth Fund
One East 75th Street
New York, NY 10021-2692
United States
Telephone: 1-212-606-3809

Maria Judd
Vice President, Programs
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improve

Isabelle Durand-Zaleski
Professor of Medicine
Researcher in Clinical Public Health
Hôpital Henri Mondor

Denis Raynaud
IRDES - Institut de Recherche et Documentation en Economie de la Santé

Magne Nylenna
Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services