Affordable, quality health care. For everyone.

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 November or December 2020 in Sydney (for Australian applicants*) and Auckland (for New Zealand applicants), January 2021 in London (for U.K. applicants) and Paris (for French applicants), February 2021 in Berlin or the Hague (for German and Dutch applicants) and Oslo (for Norwegian applicants), and March 2021 in Toronto (for Canadian applicants). Interview dates will be shared upon submission of the 2021-22 Harkness Fellowship application. 

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.
  • *Please note that there is an additional requirement for Harkness Fellowship applicants from Australia. See more below. 

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 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 [email protected]  

Harkness Application

2020-21 Harkness Fellowship application deadlines will be announced here shortly.

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. 

*Please note that there is an additional requirement for Harkness Fellowship applicants from Australia.


This process involves:  1) reviewing the country-specific list of priority themes (below) and shaping your project proposal around those priorities; 2) contacting one of the designated government officials no later than October 7, 2019 to review your draft proposal and provide feedback; and, 3) submitting an endorsement letter from the government official with the Harkness application by October 28, 2019.

Applicants must contact one of the designated government officials to share their draft project proposal and corresponding dissemination strategy that ensures the findings are presented to key Federal, state, territory and health care delivery system audiences. If appropriate, it should also include a proposed strategy for implementation. Initial contact with a government official should be made as early as possible and no later than October 7.

Please note that applicants from New South Wales have until October 21 to make initial contact with their designated government official.

From October 7-28, applicants should revise their project proposal and dissemination strategy based on advice and requested changes from the government official.

Applicants must then secure an endorsement letter from the government official (on organizational letterhead) stating that their project proposal and dissemination plan were reviewed by the official and are aligned with government priorities.  This letter must be submitted along with the application components listed above.                           

Policy Themes:  Applications for the 2020-21 Australian Harkness Fellowship must relate to one of the following priority policy themes jointly agreed upon by the Australian Government and state and territory governments.

  1. Integration of Care across all sectors of the health system, including aged care
  2. Chronic Disease and Multi-Morbidity, including prevention and public health
  3. Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
  4. Obesity
  5. Impact and Utilisation of Technology and Artificial Intelligence on service delivery, and potentially the implications for rural, remote and regional settings
  6. Workforce to support new models of care (including merger of health and social care workforce)
  7. Overall Health System Sustainability (trajectories of needs/costs and implications for health and broader public policy)
  8. Early Years and/or End of Life

Australian Government and State / Territory Government Contacts: Applicants for the 2020-21 Australian Harkness Fellowship must contact one of the officials listed below to seek endorsement of their application.

When reaching out via email, please use the subject line: 2020-21 Australian Harkness Fellowship Application Endorsement


Dr. Anna Vinkhuyzen

Principal Policy Officer

Health, Innovation, Investment and Research Office (HIIRO)

Department of Health

Level 13, 33 Charlotte Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000

Phone: 07 3199 3992

Email:  [email protected]


Dr. Claire Langdon

Assistant Director, Policy and Planning

Health and Wellbeing Division

Department of Health and Human Services

50 Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

T: 03 9096 7712  M: +61 437 136 324

Email: [email protected]

Northern Territory:

Vera Whitehouse

Director - Learning Development

Department of Health

Northern Territory Government

GPO Box 40596, Casuarina, NT 0811

Phone: 08 8922 7454

Email: [email protected]

Western Australia:

Ryan Sengara

Director Strategy, Policy and Intergovernmental Relations

Department of Health

Phone: (08) 9222 2296  M: 0431 120 857

Email: [email protected]

Australian Capital Territory:

Michael Culhane

ACT Health

Email: [email protected]

South Australia:

Ms Catherine Turnbull

Chief Allied & Scientific Health Officer

SA Health Education Lead

Phone: (08) 8226 6406

Email: [email protected]

New South Wales:

Cathryn Cox

Executive Director

Health System Planning and Investment

Email: [email protected]


Michael Pervan

Secretary – Department of Health and Human Services.

Email: [email protected]


Emma Wood

Assistant Secretary

International and Commonwealth/State Relations Branch

Department of Health

Phone: (02) 6289 3156

Email: [email protected]

Individuals to Contact for Further Information

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

Robin Osborn (all countries)
Senior Adviser
Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice
The Commonwealth Fund
One East 75th Street
New York, NY 10021-2692
United States
Email: [email protected]

Paolo Kraushaar
Director, Bilateral and Regional Engagement
Portfolio Strategies Division | Health Systems Policy and Primary Care Group
International and Commonwealth/State Relations Branch
Australian Government Department of Health
Email: [email protected]

Bill Callery
Senior Improvement Lead / Responsable principal de l’amélioration
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
Fondation canadienne pour l’amélioration des services de santé
Email: [email protected]

Isabelle Durand-Zaleski
Professor of Medicine
Researcher in Clinical Public Health
Hôpital Henri Mondor
Email: [email protected] 

Denis Raynaud
IRDES - Institut de Recherche et Documentation en Economie de la Santé
Email: [email protected]

Sarah Turner
Deputy Director-General
Office of the Director-General
New Zealand Ministry of Health
Email: [email protected]

Magne Nylenna
Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services
Email: [email protected]