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Senior Fellows at the Harkness Fellowships 20th Anniversary Celebration in Dorking, England

Senior Fellows at the Harkness Fellowships 20th Anniversary Celebration in Dorking, England

Senior Fellows at the Harkness Fellowships 20th Anniversary Celebration in Dorking, England

Am I eligible to apply?

Harkness Fellowships are designed for midcareer professionals who are committed to advancing health policy and practice in the Commonwealth Fund’s principal areas of interest: improving health insurance coverage, access to care, the quality and efficiency of care delivery, and advancing health equity.   

All applicants must:  

  • Be established residents of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, or the United Kingdom and eligible to receive a J1 Research Scholar Visa. In addition, applicants must be committed to continuing their career in the country from which they are applying. 

  • Show significant promise as a policy-oriented health care leader. Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds: government/policy, health services research, clinical practice, health care management, and journalism, among others. If you have specific questions about whether your career path fits with the Harkness Fellowship program, please contact us.  

  • Have a demonstrated expertise in health policy issues and a track record of informing health policy through research, policy analysis, care delivery, or clinical leadership. 

  • Propose a research project that is relevant to both the U.S. and their home country and is focused on creating policy or system-level change.  

  • Have the relevant education and work experience to carry out the proposed research and take full advantage of the fellowship experience. 

Is there an age limit?

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

What is included in the application?

  • Statement of professional objectives;
  • Curriculum vitae;
  • Preliminary proposal (up to five pages, exclusive of references) for a policy-oriented research project that fits within the Commonwealth Fund’s principal areas of interest;
  • One (1) letter of reference from the applicant’s department chair or institutional director (more than one applicant may apply from the same institution);
  • Three (3) professional references from individuals who can comment on the applicant’s past work and the potential contribution of their proposed research project;
  • Three (3) examples of work products, such as journal articles, reports, or other pieces of writing (if submitting unpublished products please add a description of the piece/its purpose).

Please note that reference letters are due on the same date as the application, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all four references have been submitted.

Is there a list of suggested projects for Harkness applicants?

No. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals based on original ideas that align with the Commonwealth Fund’s principal areas of interest. In preparing an application, candidates should review the Fund’s recent work. The proposed research project must be relevant to both the U.S. and their home country and be focused on creating policy or system-level change. For quantitative research proposals, candidates must explore the availability and accessibility of data sets. For qualitative proposals, they must consider how they will collect data (document review, interviews, focus groups, etc.).

What makes for a successful Harkness Fellowship research proposal?

A successful research proposal is one that is relevant to both the U.S. and the applicant’s home country and is focused on creating policy or system-level change. Please see example 1, example 2, or example 3 as a guide, noting that some information, including Proposed Placement in the United States, has been removed to maintain confidentiality. Question 6 below provides for detail on Harkness Fellowship placements and mentors. 

Do I need to know where I want to be placed / who I want as my mentor to apply? 

No. Commonwealth Fund staff work closely with all newly selected Harkness Fellows to identify potential mentors who are experts in their area of interest. Mentors supervise Fellows’ research, provide technical expertise and guidance, and facilitate access to relevant data, contacts, and organizations. Through their mentors, Fellows are affiliated with an institution — a university, think tank, health care organization, or government agency — that serves as their home base for the year. If you do have ideas about whom you would like to work with or where you would like to be placed, you are encouraged to include this in your research proposal (under “Proposed Placement in the United States”). 

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

Yes. You are welcome to reach out to former Harkness Fellows to learn about their experiences in the program. If you are unable to connect with a particular Fellow, please email Molly FitzGerald ([email protected]) to confirm their contact details.

I have applied to the Harkness Fellowships before. Can I apply again?

Yes, you are welcome to apply again. However, the Fund cannot provide critiques of declined applications. 

What does the fellowship award cover?

The fellowship award provides dedicated research funding and a monthly living stipend (approximately USD6,700), plus round-trip airfare, support for relocation health insurance coverage, 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 under the age of 18. Exact terms of the award may vary by country.  

Fellows are encouraged to seek salary support from their home-country employer, particularly if they are coming from a for-profit organization. In some cases, Fellows may opt to arrange paid leave from their home institution (in lieu of receiving the monthly living stipend) to maintain their current income. If partial salary support is provided by a Fellow’s home institution, it will be supplemented by the Commonwealth Fund to meet the amount of the monthly living stipend. 

What are the requirements of the Fellowship?

Harkness Fellows are expected to disseminate the results of their research. Products may include a peer-reviewed journal article or report for a high-level policy audience, as well as issue or data briefs, op-eds, blogs, or audio/video recordings. Depending on the nature of the research, we also encourage other products more relevant to frontline delivery system innovation. 

Can I bring my family?

Yes. The fellowship year is an adventure for partners and children as well. As described above, an additional family supplement is provided to fellows accompanied by a partner and/or children under age 18. We know that the idea of relocating your family may be daunting at first, but former Harkness Fellows are happy to provide guidance on neighborhoods, schools, activities, and other aspects. 

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 all newly selected Fellows with the documentation necessary to apply for visas for themselves and their family members at the U.S. Embassy in their home country. Accompanying spouse and dependents are eligible for J2 dependent visas. For more information go to  

Can my partner work during the fellowship year?

The partners of Harkness Fellows often take the opportunity to step away from work and explore the United States. That said, spouses of J-1 visa holders can seek employment in the U.S. but must first apply for employment authorization via the I-765 Form (“Application for Employment Authorization”). There are fees associated with filing the application, and you must provide proof that the money being earned is not required to support the Harkness Fellow. The estimated time for obtaining employment authorization is six to eight weeks, but the process can take longer depending on the individual situation. It is also necessary to obtain a social security number, or SSN, for tax filing purposes. Depending on where you live, obtaining a social security number can take another six to eight weeks. 

Nonmarried partners of Harkness Fellows are advised to travel to the U.S. on a visitor visa (B-2). B-2 visa holders are not eligible to work in the U.S.  

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

Fellows must spend between 10 and 12 months in the United States to ensure they 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 U.S. required.

2023-24 Harkness Fellows will be expected to arrive in the U.S. in mid to late August or early September 2023 to start the program, and remain in the country for 10 to 12 months from their date of arrival. 

How do I find a place to live?

Previous Fellows and U.S. Mentors are good resources as you decide where to live and search for accommodations. Online resources that can be helpful include Sabbatical Homes, Zillow, StreetEasy (NYC only), and Trulia