Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship

About

The Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship is a global program that identifies and empowers the next generation of exceptional computing research talent. Microsoft recognizes the value of diversity in computing and aims to increase the pipeline of talent receiving advanced degrees in computing-related fields to build a stronger and inclusive computing-related research community. We currently offer PhD fellowships in Asia-Pacific, Canada and the United States, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), and Latin America.

Over the last two decades, the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship program has supported over 700 fellows around the world, many of whom have gone on to work at Microsoft. Others have gone on to perform pioneering research elsewhere within the technology industry or accept faculty appointments at leading universities.

The details of the fellowship program vary by region. Please see your region tab for details and instructions, as well as the FAQ for answers to common questions.

Regions

We are always looking for the best and brightest talent and celebrate individuality. We invite and encourage candidates to come as they are and do what they love.

Asia-Pacific

Asia-Pacific

For the purposes of this fellowship, applicants must attend a university in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, or Taiwan.

The Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship program identifies the next generation of research leaders through a unique program that offers a combination of mentorship, research, networking, and academic opportunities to promising young candidates. Since its inception in 1999, the program has attracted over one thousand PhD candidates from top universities in the Asia-Pacific region, and 441 outstanding PhD students have been awarded the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship honor. Fellows have gone on to become prominent researchers and influential individuals in academia and industry.

Fellows earn more than a simple scholarship; they enjoy long-term close engagement with Microsoft Research Asia, one of the leading computer science research labs in the world. Each winner has the opportunity to complete an internship, during which they participate in hands-on, advanced research at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, China.

Timeline

  • June 30, 2021 – Application deadline
  • Early September – Onsite interview (only for those candidates who pass through the first round of reviews)
  • Mid-October – Fellows announced

Provisions of the award

The Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Program offers some of the industry’s most competitive incentives and rewards, including:

  • Cash awards of $10,000 USD, which can be used to support research initiatives and academic endeavors including, but not limited to: attending international research conferences/events, and subsidizing paper and patent application fees.
  • The guarantee of an optional three-month internship at Microsoft Research Asia.
  • Opportunity for intensive and individualized mentorship programs with a dedicated senior researcher, to help facilitate the fellow’s research until graduation.
  • Opportunity to attend the Microsoft Research Asia Academic Conference.
  • At the discretion of Microsoft Research Asia, advisors of fellows might be invited to participate in collaborative research projects and academic exchange events.

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants must attend a university in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, or Taiwan, and do research work that relates to computing topics in which Microsoft Research is concerned with (click on Research Areas at the top of the page for a full list).
  • According to the definition of the normative period of PhD programs of the applicant’s university and region, the applicant must graduate in 2023 or later. The applicants and their advisors will be asked for supporting documents, if needed.
  • The Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Committee has final determination of the interpretation of the above clauses.

Supplementary information

Microsoft has always been committed to the mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more and has actively promoted the extensive application of computer technology in various fields and in public welfare undertakings. With the progress of data acquisition, data processing, and artificial intelligence in recent years, computer technology is playing an increasingly important role in the research of basic science. The current problems and challenges faced by human society also require the urgent intersection and integration of basic scientific research and computer science. Based on the current trends and demand, the fellowship will continue to welcome applicants in the field of Computational Science in order to discover academic talents who are innovating computer theory and technology to promote the development of basic scientific research, and to support and encourage them to better carry out their potential research work.

Related Computational Science subject areas

Please refer to the Our research > Other Sciences menu in the top navigation of this site to learn more about these research areas:

Evaluation criteria of computational science area applicants

In the Computational Science area, The MSRA Fellowship program focuses on doctoral students who have promoted and expanded research work in the above fields through innovations in computer theory, algorithms, and systems and have made influential achievements. We also look at doctoral students who have made contributions to the development of computer technology by introducing the research methods, theories, and technologies of basic science into the computer science field.

Application details

The Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship application period closes on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 11:59 PM Beijing Time.

    • PhD students must apply directly for the scholarship.
    • Applications must include:
      • An application form (download template here)
      • Curriculum vitae
      • Research Statement. This statement (of approximately 1,000 words) provides a summary of your research accomplishments and current work, and highlight your most outstanding contribution to the academia. It must discuss the future direction and potential of your work, especially your research plan for the next few years of PhD study.
      • At least two letters of reference from established researchers familiar with your research. Of these, one letter should come from your advisor. Scanned copies of the signed recommendation letters should be sent, by those recommending you, directly to fellowra@microsoft.com.
    • Applications must be submitted via the online application tool in any of the following formats: Word document, text-only file, PDF or ZIP. Email or hard copy applications will not be considered.
    • Applications submitted to Microsoft will not be returned. Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information in submitted applications. Therefore, applications should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive.
    • Incomplete applications will not be considered.
    • Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research Asia cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive fellowship awards.

FAQ

What should be included in a research statement?

The research statement should provide a summary of your research accomplishments and current work and highlight your most outstanding contribution to the academia. Importantly, it should clearly discuss the future direction and potential of your work, especially your research plan for the next few years of PhD study. It should be technical but remain intelligible to any reviewer of the track (we have four general tracks, which you can find in the online application tool). Because your research statement may be read by a reviewer with same track but outside of your subdiscipline, it is important to keep the “big picture” in mind. A strong research statement presents a readable, compelling, and realistic research agenda with clear potential results. Research statements can be weakened by overly ambitious proposals, a lack of clear direction, and a lack of big-picture focus.

Some general advice:

  • The goal of the research statement is to introduce yourself to a search committee and make them excited about your research. This committee will likely contain scientists both in and outside of your subdiscipline. The statement may be around 1,000 words, keeping in mind that you want people to read it and buy in, so please don’t make it too long or too short.
  • Think of the overarching theme guiding your main research subject area. Write an essay that lays out:
    • The main theme(s), why it is important, and what specific skills you will use to attack the problem.
    • A couple of specific examples of problems you have already worked on with success — to build credibility and give people an idea of what it is you do.
    • A discussion of the future direction of your research. This section should build on the above and be exciting to people both in and outside your field. If you think that your research could lead to answers for big, exciting questions — say so and reach for the stars.
    • Tie it all off with a final paragraph that leaves the reader with a good overall impression of your research.
  • There is no need to mention all of your projects; stick to those that align with your overarching theme. Introducing no more than three (3) research works is strongly recommended.
  • Pay attention to jargon. You want reviewers to understand everything in your statement. Remember that the goal is to make the search committee excited about you — and they won’t be excited about something they can’t understand.
  • If you have something that sets you apart (e.g. a prestigious achievement in your field), you may want to include it.
  • There are no excuses for spelling errors.

Who should submit the applications?

Required application materials can be submitted directly online by the applicant. The online application tool is available at: https://cmtint.research.microsoft.com/MSRAFellowship2021

In what language and format must the application materials be?

All application materials must be in English. All documents submitted must be in Word document, text-only file, PDF, or ZIP file format.

Students from which areas are encouraged to apply?

Students must be doing research work that relates to computing topics in which Microsoft Research is concerned with (click on Our research at the top of the page for a full list).

Four major directions for reference:

  • Human machine intelligence
    • Big data mining
    • Knowledge mining
    • Machine learning
    • Natural language processing
    • Social computing
    • Theory
    • Urban computing
    • Web search and data mining
    • Others
  • Perception, recognition, interaction
    • Graphics
    • Multimedia
    • Robotics
    • Speech
    • Vision
    • Others
  • Hardware and software systems
    • Applied algorithms
    • Cloud computing
    • Devices
    • Mobile sensing
    • Networking
    • Software analytics
    • Systems
    • Others
  • Computational science
    • Computational ecology & environmental studies
    • Computational biomedical science & public health
    • Computational physics
    • Computational materials science
    • Other computational science fields

Are first-year students eligible to apply?

First-year students are eligible to apply if they have already enrolled in a PhD program by the time of the nomination.

Are second-year students eligible to apply?

It depends on the expected graduation date of the normative PhD study you are enrolled in. If the student will graduate in 2023 or later, then they are eligible.

When will the review results be announced?

Selected applicants will receive notification of their acceptance status by early October 2021. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research Asia cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive fellowship awards.

If selected, when can I come to Microsoft Research Asia for my internship?

A three-month internship at Microsoft Research Asia is guaranteed, and you may request to come for an internship at any time before you complete your PhD. Besides working with experienced mentors, an internship at Microsoft Research Asia allows fellows to present to and discuss with diverse researchers, which will help them expand their horizons and provide experience in large international corporations. To date, more than 200 fellows have interned. For more information about internship opportunities at Microsoft Research Asia, please visit the Careers page.

What are the intellectual property implications of a Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship?

The funds are given as an unrestricted gift. Fellowship recipients are not subject to intellectual property restrictions unless they complete an internship at Microsoft Research Asia. If that is the case, they are subject to the same intellectual property restrictions as any other Microsoft Research Asia intern.

Are students from other countries or regions eligible?

Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship only accepts applicants with universities in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Please send email directly to fellowRA@microsoft.com for other questions.

Canada & US

Canada & United States

For the purposes of this fellowship, nominees must attend a university in Canada or the United States.

Timeline

  • Nominations from the university will close Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM (Noon) Pacific Daylight Time
  • Qualified nominees will receive an invitation email by July 9, 2021 to submit their proposal
  • Proposals and letters of recommendation will be accepted through August 6, 2021
  • Recipients will be announced by mid-October 2021

Provisions of the award

  • Tuition and fees will be covered for two academic years (2022–23 and 2023–24).
  • A $42,000 USD stipend will be provided to help with living expenses while in school for two academic years (2022-23 and 2023-24). The stipend is not expected to cover all living expenses; it can be used for expenses including, but not limited to, childcare, conference fees and travel, research equipment, meals, rent, etc.
  • Opportunities will be provided to build relationships with research teams at Microsoft and receive mentorship.

Eligibility criteria

  • Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Fellows should support this mission and embrace opportunities to foster diverse and inclusive cultures within their communities.
  • PhD students must be nominated by their university. Their nomination must be submitted by someone designated by the department chair’s office in order to ensure the number of nominations per department is not exceeded.
  • Students must be enrolled at a university in Canada or the United States.
  • Proposed research must be closely related to the general areas of research carried out by Microsoft Research lab members or those within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft as noted in the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site and listed below. Explore our website to learn more about these areas of research.
    • Algorithms
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Audio & acoustics
    • Computer vision
    • Data platforms and analytics
    • Ecology & environment
    • Economics
    • Graphics & multimedia
    • Hardware & devices
    • Human-computer interaction
    • Human language technologies
    • Mathematics
    • Medical, health & genomics
    • Programming languages & software engineering
    • Quantum computing
    • Search & information retrieval
    • Security, privacy & cryptography
    • Social sciences
    • Systems & networking
    • Technology for emerging markets
  • Students must be in their third year of their PhD program in the fall semester or quarter of 2021. The department chair’s office at the nominating university will need to attest that the student will be considered a third year PhD student at that time having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.
  • A maximum of four nominations per department will be accepted; if two or three students are nominated, then at least one nominee should help us increase the opportunities for students who identify as part of a community that is underrepresented in the field of computing, and if four are nominated, then at least two nominees should help us increase the opportunities for students who identify as part of a community that is underrepresented in the field of computing. This includes those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQI+, active or veteran service member, and/or person with a disability.
  • The recipient must remain an active, full-time student in a PhD program during the two consecutive academic years of the award or forfeit the award. Fellowships are not available for extension. If you require time away for family or medical leave, this will be accommodated. If you are unsure if a particular need for time away will affect the award, you can contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.
  • Payment of the award, as described above, will be made directly to the university and dispersed according to the university’s policies. Microsoft will have discretion as to how any remaining funds will be used if the student is no longer qualified to receive funding (e.g. if the student unenrolls from the program, graduates, or transfers to a different university).
  • Funding is for use only during the recipient’s time in the PhD program; it cannot be used for support in a role past graduation, such as a postdoc or faculty position. Those interested in receiving this fellowship will need to confirm their PhD program starting month and year, as well as their expected graduation month and year.
  • A recipient of the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship subject to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism will forfeit their funding.
  • A recipient of the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship may not receive another fellowship from another technology company during the same academic period. Fellows accepting multiple fellowships may become ineligible to receive continued funding from Microsoft. Microsoft will at its sole discretion consider a joint fellowship with a government or non-profit organization.

Nomination details

Nominations for the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship will close on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM (Noon) Pacific Daylight Time. Universities should inform their students once they have submitted their nomination so the nominees can begin collecting the details listed under Proposal requirements below. Nominated PhD students will receive an invitation email by July 9, 2021 to submit their proposal.

The below outlines the information necessary if you are submitting a nomination on behalf of the department chair’s office at your university. A maximum of four nominations per department will be accepted; if two or three students are nominated, then at least one nominee should help us increase the opportunities for students who identify as part of a community that is underrepresented in the field of computing, and if four are nominated, then at least two nominees should help us increase the opportunities for students who identify as part of a community that is underrepresented in the field of computing. This includes those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQI+, active or veteran service member, and/or person with a disability.

Nominations must include:

    • Your name, email, and job title as the person submitting the nomination on behalf of the department chair’s office at your university
    • Attest that the process used to determine which student(s) to nominate from your department for this fellowship was fair and non-discriminatory
    • Nominee’s name, email, country, university, and department
    • Primary and secondary areas of research (from those noted in the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site)
    • Attest that as of the fall semester or quarter of 2021, the university considers the nominee will be a third year PhD student (having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.)
    • Indicate as to whether or not the nominee you are putting forth self-identifies as underrepresented in the field of computing (as detailed above)

For questions regarding nominations, contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.

Proposal details

If you were nominated by the office of the department chair at your university, then we will send you an email from Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship by July 9, 2021. Please check your junk email folder if you do not see it in your inbox. The email will contain a private link to submit your proposal.

If you are a nominee, the below outlines the information necessary to submit your proposal in our submission portal.

You will be asked to answer the below questions in a form:

    • Your name, email, country, university, and department
    • Primary and secondary areas of research (from those noted in the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site)
    • Thesis proposal or research statement title
    • Month and year entered the PhD program and expected graduation date (nominee must be in their third year of their PhD program in August/September 2021 and vetted by the university)
    • Indicate as to whether or not you are a doctoral student who identifies as part of a community that is underrepresented in the field of computing which include those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQI+, active or veteran service member, and/or person with a disability – if two or three students are nominated, then at least one nominee should help us increase the opportunities for students who identify as part of a community that is underrepresented in the field of computing, and if four are nominated, then at least two nominees should help us increase the opportunities for students who identify as part of a community that is underrepresented in the field of computing
    • URL to your professional website (optional, but strongly recommended; you are encouraged to make certain it is up-to-date)
    • Approximate cost of tuition and fees for one academic year
    • One to three academic conferences you are most likely to attend
    • Self-assessment of the Statement of Good Standing: “I declare I have never been disciplined for inappropriate behavior, including, but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism. If I am selected to receive funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program, during my funding time period, I agree to inform Microsoft should I be subjected to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism which would result in forfeiture of funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program.

You will be asked to upload 3 documents:

Your curriculum vitae, thesis statement, and one-page summary will be uploaded separately. Accepted formats are docx, doc, and pdf. Email or hard-copy submissions will not be considered. Name the individual files using the convention indicated below. Include your first name and last name as part of your file name each separated by an underscore (e.g. Jane_Smith_cv.docx).

    • Curriculum vitae – file name: cv
    • Thesis proposal or research statement (short and concise is recommended—no more than five pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point) – file name: thesis
    • One-page summary (including references with font no smaller than 10-point) of the above thesis proposal or research statement with the first paragraph describing the desired impact your research will have in the field and in society, and why it is important to you – file name: summary

You will be asked to request 3 letters of recommendation via the submission portal:

    • Add the contact information (name, affiliation, email) and send the email request through the submission portal to your three recommenders as soon as possible so they have ample time to provide a letter. Their deadline is the same as your proposal deadline on August 6, 2021. They should be established researchers familiar with your research (at least one of which must be from your primary academic advisor/supervisor and only one letter can be from a current Microsoft employee). Once you send the request through the submission portal, they will receive a private link to upload a letter of recommendation for you. Please note that you and your recommenders may need to check your junk folders in order to find emails from our portal. As reference, here is a list of the various system email addresses you can add to allowed emails.

Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information submitted in the proposals. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Microsoft reserves the right to make public the information on those proposals that receive awards, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.

Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

For questions regarding proposals, contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at  msfellow@microsoft.com.

FAQ

Eligibility questions

Are international students (those who are not citizens of Canada or the United States) eligible?

Yes, if you are a full-time international student attending a school in Canada or the United States and meet the eligibility requirements.

What if I’m a student attending a university outside Canada and the United States?

If you are a student attending a school outside Canada and the United States, you are ineligible for this fellowship.

What if I am not starting my third year in a PhD program in academic year 2021–2022?

Students must be in their third year in a PhD program in August/September 2021 in order to submit a proposal for this award.

How should I determine if I will be in my third year of my PhD program in August/September 2021? Do you consider master’s degrees when calculating eligibility?

We find that universities calculate this differently which is why we require the designated person from the department chair’s office to attest that the student will be considered a third year PhD student in August/September 2021. We kindly leave this to you and your university to determine.

Do I have to be nominated by my university or can I nominate myself?

To be considered for the award, you must be nominated by your department within your university. If you are nominated, you will be contacted to submit a proposal.

Can Microsoft employees or their families be nominated to submit a proposal?

Current interns may be nominated. With the exception of interns, employees and directors of Microsoft Corporation, and its subsidiaries and affiliates are not eligible, nor are persons involved in the execution or administration of this fellowship, or the family members of each above (parents, children, siblings, spouse/domestic partners, or individuals residing in the same household).

Nomination questions

Who is meant to submit the nomination? Does it have to be the Chair of the department or can it be my advisor?

The Department Chair’s office can designate any staff other than the student to submit the nomination (professor, administrator, graduate officer, etc.). The nomination simply needs to be a coordinated effort with the Department Chair’s office. This is to ensure there are no more than four nominations from each department and the Department Chair’s office is aware of those nominations being submitted.

Does the Department Chair have to submit a letter through the online tool as well in support of my nomination?

No, we do not require a letter from the Department Chair.

Does whether or not a student’s research is already being funded impact their eligibility for nomination and/or receiving the award?

Not from our perspective. However, should the student be chosen for both a Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship and a fellowship from another technology company or institution during the same academic period, they will be asked to choose.

Areas of research

You specify very broad focus areas of research. Are there any proposals or projects that you are more interested in than others or is it up to us to choose? Is it mostly software solutions or is there any hardware interest?

There are plenty of both hardware and software projects currently in Microsoft Research. The reason the areas of research are broad is that Microsoft Research is very broad, and there are a number of people reviewing the fellowship proposals across a wide range of areas. Look at the work people in Microsoft Research are doing by clicking on the areas noted in the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site which will give you some idea of the focus areas within the broad areas to guide your focus area choice. In the end, propose the work you are interested in doing.

How do areas of interest factor into fellowship proposal evaluations? Are there areas of interest that Microsoft Research is more focused on this year?

It depends on the individuals involved in reviewing the proposal, and it is hard to say what is going to be of more interest. The trends of the industry are probably going to be reflected in what is interesting in general. Guiding question: Imagine you succeed. Tell us how someone’s life changes as a result.

How do I determine my primary and secondary areas of research? Where is the appropriate place to describe how they relate to my work (whether it’s methodologically or theoretically)?

  • Your choices of primary and secondary areas of research help us choose who reviews your proposal.
  • Pick areas that align with conferences/journals where you would publish.
  • The one-pager is the appropriate place to describe how research areas relate to your research.

How do I choose which to pick for my area of research if my research is very interdisciplinary?

Microsoft Research is interdisciplinary, so it is something we understand. What you choose as an area of research is a “soft” preference and will simply help us better route your proposal. Utilize the primary and secondary areas of research option to help capture and communicate your area of research the best you can.

Here are some suggestions and guiding questions to help you choose a research area:

  • Imagine you succeed. Tell us how someone’s life changes as a result.
  • Do you have a home conference? Are there one or two conferences you go to in a more specific area?
  • Is there a set of faculty/professors you know in a specific area?
  • Who do you want to be reading your proposal?
  • Who would you want to network with? What area of research are they in?
  • Who would be most excited about my topic? What area of research are they in?

How related does my work need to be to the research at Microsoft?

Your work should be of interest to Microsoft Research lab members or those within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft; however, it doesn’t need to directly line up with an existing project or topic. It is important for your work to be related enough that we will be able to review it and have interest in supporting it. Microsoft Research is large, interdisciplinary, and covers a broad area — use the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site as a guideline for the areas we cover. When in doubt, we suggest you browse the webpages of Microsoft Research lab members and those within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft who look like they may be related to your area and see if they have papers in the similar topics or publish in conferences you publish in and/or attend. If you find one or more such people that share these connections with you, then you can feel confident that your work is related enough to submit a proposal.

Thesis proposal or research statement

Are there specific pieces of information I am required to include in my research statement (i.e. research aims, timelines, deliverables) or are you looking for more of a narrative, descriptive format of a student’s plan for their doctoral research?

Your research statement should be more of a narrative format. Timelines and deliverables are not necessary. We want to see what you are interested in, where your work is going, and how you would use this fellowship to further your research and contribute to the academic community.

What sort of balance is expected between what we have done, what we are doing, and what we are planning on doing?

When reviewing a proposal, we are looking for more of a future plan. Your research papers tell us what you have done, use the research statement to tell us where you are going.

If we have just submitted a paper that is going to guide a lot of direction going forward, would you recommend submitting that as preliminary data or attaching an unpublished paper to the proposal?

If it is relevant, and all co-authors approve of you submitting the unpublished work, we recommend including this in your submission by providing a link in your proposal to the information housed online somewhere like OneDrive (do not add pages to your proposal). Again, all papers should be approved by all-co-authors, for both published and unpublished works.

Should the one-page research statement be a short synopsis of the five-page research statement, or should they contain distinctively different content?

The one-page research statement and the five-page research statement should not contain different content; one should be a shorter version of the other. The purpose of the shorter version is to help us triage where proposals go to get reviewed, and its first paragraph should describe the desired impact your research will make on the field and society.

Should I be aware of formatting criteria while writing my research statement?

Your research statement should be no more than 5 pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point. The one-page summary of the aforementioned thesis proposal or research statement should also include references.

Letters of recommendation

My undergrad was in a different field so the research was very different from what I am doing now. Who should write my letters of recommendation?

Given you have three letters, it would be good to include a letter from one person who can speak about your current research and one person who has known you longer, even if it may not be in your current research area. The longer-term perspective is definitely important and valuable. The value of a letter is evaluating how you work, how you collaborate with people, and what your process is as a researcher. This transcends what your particular topic is. Keep in mind that one letter doesn’t have to address all things; across all three letters, we want to get a full picture of who you are over a longer term, but also insight into your recent work.

Are you more interested in learning about technical and research specific aspects of my work, or are other things, such as outreach/other university activities of interest as well?

The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to provide us with the bigger picture of what you are doing, how you work as a researcher, how you learn, how you approach projects, and how you collaborate with others. The letter will also provide us with insight from people who have been working with you and observing you for some amount of time.

It was suggested that letters of recommendation come from established researchers. Is this limited to faculty members or would the inclusion of collaborators be acceptable as well?

At least one recommendation needs to come from an advisor/supervisor, but letters of recommendation from collaborators are allowed. We are looking for people who can speak to you, your work as a researcher, and your character.

For the letters of recommendation, is it a system where you list the people and your system will ask those people?

Those you provided as recommenders in our system will be sent an auto-generated email with instructions to upload their letters of recommendation.

Review process

Who will review the proposals?

Proposals will be reviewed by Microsoft Research lab members and researchers within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft whose expertise covers a wide range of disciplines.

What are you looking for when you review my proposal?

We look at how cutting edge your research is as well as the significance and impact of the research. We carefully read through your five-page thesis proposal or research statement, three letters of recommendation, and your CV to try to gauge this.

When will I know the outcome of the review process?

Nominees will be contacted by the end of September regarding the outcome of their submission. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

How many proposals were there last year?

There were over 600 proposals submitted last year.

Award details

If selected, when will my fellowship begin?

Persons awarded a fellowship in October will receive their financial awards by September of the following year. Tuition and fees are covered from the fall term through the end of the spring term. Microsoft sends payment directly to the university, who will disperse funds according to their guidelines. This award will be provided as an unrestricted gift with no terms and restrictions applied to it. No portion of these funds should be applied to overhead or other indirect costs.

Are there any tax implications for me if I receive this fellowship?

The tax implications for your tuition and fees and stipend are based on the policy at your university and applicable tax laws.

Will intellectual property be an issue if I am awarded a fellowship?

The Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship is not subject to any intellectual property (IP) restrictions unless and until the fellowship recipient also accepts an internship. If you accept an internship, you will be subject to the same restrictions as any other Microsoft intern.

Is an internship included as part of the award?

No. If a fellow is interested, applying for an internship at Microsoft is strongly encouraged, but not guaranteed or required.

Can I simultaneously receive other fellowships?

If you accept a Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship, you may not receive another fellowship from another technology company or institution during the same academic period. Fellows accepting multiple fellowships will become ineligible to receive continued funding from Microsoft. Microsoft will at its sole discretion consider a joint fellowship with a government or non-profit organization. Please contact msfellow@microsoft.com for consideration. You may not hold more than one student award at a time from Microsoft Research.

Is childcare an approved use of my stipend?

Absolutely! There is no limit to the amount of your stipend that can be used for childcare.

For questions not found above, contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.

EMEA

Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA)

For the purposes of this fellowship, those students submitting a proposal must attend a university in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa.

Timeline

  • Proposals and letters of recommendation will be accepted through Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 7:00 PM UTC
  • Recipients will be announced by mid-October 2021

Provisions of the award

  • $15,000 USD is provided to help complete research as part of their doctoral thesis work for academic year 2022–23.
  • Eligible recipients will be offered a 12-week paid internship with Microsoft Research’s Cambridge, UK lab, or the Microsoft Africa Research Institute (MARI).
  • Opportunities will be provided to build relationships with research teams at Microsoft and receive mentorship.

Eligibility criteria

  • Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Students should support this mission and embrace opportunities to foster diverse and inclusive cultures within their communities.
  • PhD students must be enrolled at a university in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, or Africa).
  • Proposed research must be closely related to one of the themes at Microsoft Research Cambridge:
  • Students must be entering their third year or beyond of their PhD program sometime between August 2021 – July 2022 having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.
  • PhD students must continue to be enrolled at the university in the beginning of academic year 2022 or forfeit the award. Fellowships are not available for extension. If you require time away for family or medical leave, this will be accommodated. If you are unsure if a particular need for time away will affect the award, you can contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.
  • Payment of the award, as described above, will be made directly to the university and dispersed according to the university’s policies. Microsoft will have discretion as to how any remaining funds will be used if the student is no longer qualified to receive funding (e.g., if the student unenrolls from the program, graduates, or transfers to a different university).
  • Funding is for use only during the recipient’s time in the PhD program; it cannot be used for support in a role past graduation, such as a postdoc or faculty position. Those interested in receiving this fellowship will need to confirm their PhD program starting month and year, as well as their expected graduation month and year.
  • A recipient of the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship subject to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism will forfeit their funding.
  • PhD students submitting a proposal should be able to communicate about their research (both in writing and verbally) in English.

Proposal details

Proposals and letters of recommendation for the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship will be accepted through Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 7:00 PM UTC. The below outlines the information necessary to submit your proposal in our submission portal.

You will be asked to answer the below questions in a form:

    • Your name, email, country, university, and department
    • Primary area of research (from those listed below)
    • Thesis proposal or research statement title
    • Month and year entered the PhD program and expected graduation date (you must be entering your third year or beyond sometime between August 2021 – July 2022)
    • URL to your professional website (optional, but strongly recommended; you are encouraged to make certain it is up-to-date)
    • One to three academic conferences you are most likely to attend
    • Self-assessment of the Statement of Good Standing: “I declare I have never been disciplined for inappropriate behavior, including, but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism. If I am selected to receive funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program, during my funding time period, I agree to inform Microsoft should I be subjected to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism which would result in forfeiture of funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program.

You will be asked to upload 3 documents:

Your curriculum vitae, thesis proposal or research statement, and one-page summary will be uploaded separately. Proposals must be submitted in English, and accepted formats are docx, doc, and pdf. Email or hard-copy submissions will not be considered. Name the individual files using the convention indicated below. Include your first name and last name as part of your file name each separated by an underscore (e.g. Jane_Smith_cv.docx).

    • Curriculum vitae – file name: cv
    • Thesis proposal or research statement (short and concise is recommended—no more than two pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point) – file name: thesis
    • Summary of the above thesis proposal or research statement (no more than 150 words; font no smaller than 10-point) – file name: summary

You will be asked to request 2 letters of recommendation (third one being optional) via the submission portal:

    • Add the contact information (name, affiliation, email) and send the email request through the submission portal to your two or three recommenders as soon as possible so they have ample time to provide a letter. Their deadline is the same as your proposal deadline on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 7:00 PM UTC. They should be established researchers familiar with your research (at least one of which must be from your primary academic advisor/supervisor and only one letter can be from a current Microsoft employee). Once you send the request through the submission portal, they will receive a private link to upload a letter of recommendation for you. Please note that you and your recommenders may need to check your junk folders in order to find emails from our portal. As reference, here is a list of the various system email addresses you can add to allowed emails.

Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information submitted in the proposals. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Microsoft reserves the right to make public the information on those proposals that receive awards, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.

Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

For questions regarding proposals, contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.

FAQ

Eligibility questions

Can EMEA PhD Scholars submit a proposal for this fellowship?

Yes, Microsoft EMEA PhD Scholars may submit a proposal for this fellowship.

What if I’m a student attending a university outside of EMEA?

Students attending a school outside of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) are ineligible for this fellowship.

What if I am not in my third year or beyond during the submission period?

Students must be entering their third year or beyond of their PhD program sometime between August 2021 – July 2022 having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.

In what language should the proposal be submitted?

All documents should be in English.

Thesis proposal or research statement

Are there specific pieces of information I am required to include in my research statement (i.e. research aims, timelines, deliverables) or are you looking for more of a narrative, descriptive format of a student’s plan for their doctoral research?

Your research statement should be more of a narrative format. Timelines and deliverables are not necessary. We want to see what you are interested in, where your work is going, and how you would use this fellowship to further your research and contribute to the academic community.

What sort of balance is expected between what we have done, what we are doing, and what we are planning on doing?

When reviewing a proposal, we are looking for more of a future plan. Your research papers tell us what you have done, use the research statement to tell us where you are going.

If we have just submitted a paper that is going to guide a lot of direction going forward, would you recommend submitting that as preliminary data or attaching an unpublished paper to the proposal?

If it is relevant, and all co-authors approve of you submitting the unpublished work, we recommend including this in your submission by providing a link in your proposal to the information housed online somewhere like OneDrive (do not add pages to your proposal). Again, all papers should be approved by all-co-authors, for both published and unpublished works.

Should the summary research statement be a short synopsis of the two-page research statement, or should they contain distinctively different content?

The summary research statement and the two-page research statement should not contain different content; one should be a shorter version of the other. The purpose of the shorter version is to help us triage where proposals go to get reviewed.

Should I be aware of formatting criteria while writing my research statement?

Your research statement should be no more than 2 pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point.

Letters of recommendation

My undergrad was in a different field so the research was very different from what I am doing now. Who should write my letters of recommendation?

Given you have two (with an option of three) letters, it would be good to include a letter from one person who can speak about your current research and one person who has known you longer, even if it may not be in your current research area. The longer-term perspective is definitely important and valuable. The value of a letter is evaluating how you work, how you collaborate with people, and what your process is as a researcher. This transcends what your particular topic is. Keep in mind that one letter doesn’t have to address all things; across all two or three letters, we want to get a full picture of who you are over a longer term, but also insight into your recent work.

Are you more interested in learning about technical and research specific aspects of my work, or are other things, such as outreach/other university activities of interest as well?

The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to provide us with the bigger picture of what you are doing, how you work as a researcher, how you learn, how you approach projects, and how you collaborate with others. The letter will also provide us with insight from people who have been working with you and observing you for some amount of time.

It was suggested that letters of recommendation come from established researchers. Is this limited to faculty members or would the inclusion of collaborators be acceptable as well?

At least one recommendation needs to come from an advisor/supervisor, but letters of recommendation from collaborators are allowed. We are looking for people who can speak to you, your work as a researcher, and your character.

For the letters of recommendation, is it a system where you list the people and your system will ask those people?

Those you provided as recommenders in our system will be sent an auto-generated email with instructions to upload their letters of recommendation.

Review process

How will proposals be judged?

Reviewers will rate proposals based on the technical/scientific quality and the potential impact of the proposed research.

Who will review the proposals?

Proposals will be reviewed by researchers at Microsoft.

What are you looking for in a proposal?

Accomplishment, impact, and alignment with the work that we are doing at Microsoft Research. Highlight papers you have published and any awards you have received. Describe the impact that your research will have on others and how this award will enable your research.

When will I know the outcome of the review process?

Students will be contacted by the end of September regarding the outcome of their submission. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

Award details

If selected, when will my fellowship begin?

Persons awarded a fellowship in October 2021 will receive their financial awards at the beginning of their fourth academic year or beyond. Microsoft sends the payment directly to the university, which then disperses funds according to its guidelines. For example, if your academic year begins in September, your university will receive your funding by September. If your academic year begins in March, your university will receive your funding by March.

Are there any tax implications for me if I receive this fellowship?

The tax implications for the fellowship are based on the policy at your university and applicable tax laws.

Will intellectual property be an issue if I am awarded a fellowship?

The Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship is not subject to any intellectual property (IP) restrictions.

Can I simultaneously receive fellowships from other companies?

If you accept a Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship, you may receive another fellowship from another company or institution during the same academic period.

Am I required to accept the internship offer?

No. We offer it as part of the fellowship, but it is up to you if you wish to accept the internship.

Can I choose the team I want to intern with?

We will do our best to connect you with the researcher that you requested, but that cannot be assured.

If selected as a fellow for the academic year 2022-23, when can I intern with Microsoft Research Cambridge?

Internships are typically for 12 weeks. We will work with you to determine the optimal timing for your internship.

Is childcare an approved use of the fellowship?

Absolutely! There is no limit to the amount of your stipend that can be used for childcare.

For questions not found above, contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.

Latin America

Latin America

For the purposes of this fellowship, those students submitting a proposal must attend a university in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, or Puerto Rico.

Timeline

  • Proposals and letters of recommendation will be accepted through Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM (Noon) Pacific Daylight Time
  • Recipients will be announced by mid-October 2021

Provisions of the award

  • $15,000 USD is provided to help complete research as part of their doctoral thesis work for academic year 2022–23.
  • Opportunities will be provided to build relationships with research teams at Microsoft and receive mentorship.

Eligibility criteria

  • Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Students should support this mission and embrace opportunities to foster diverse and inclusive cultures within their communities.
  • PhD students must be enrolled at a university in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, or Puerto Rico.
  • Proposed research must be closely related to the general areas of research carried out by Microsoft Research lab members or those within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft as noted in the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site and listed below. Explore our website to learn more about these areas of research.
    • Algorithms
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Audio & acoustics
    • Computer vision
    • Data platforms and analytics
    • Ecology & environment
    • Economics
    • Graphics & multimedia
    • Hardware & devices
    • Human-computer interaction
    • Human language technologies
    • Mathematics
    • Medical, health & genomics
    • Programming languages & software engineering
    • Quantum computing
    • Search & information retrieval
    • Security, privacy & cryptography
    • Social sciences
    • Systems & networking
    • Technology for emerging markets
  • Students must be entering their third year or beyond of their PhD program sometime between August 2021 – July 2022 having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.
  • PhD students must continue to be enrolled at the university in the beginning of academic year 2022 or forfeit the award. Fellowships are not available for extension. If you require time away for family or medical leave, this will be accommodated. If you are unsure if a particular need for time away will affect the award, you can contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.
  • Payment of the award, as described above, will be made directly to the university and dispersed according to the university’s policies. Microsoft will have discretion as to how any remaining funds will be used if the student is no longer qualified to receive funding (e.g., if the student unenrolls from the program, graduates, or transfers to a different university).
  • Funding is for use only during the recipient’s time in the PhD program; it cannot be used for support in a role past graduation, such as a postdoc or faculty position. Those interested in receiving this fellowship will need to confirm their PhD program starting month and year, as well as their expected graduation month and year.
  • A recipient of the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship subject to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism will forfeit their funding.
  • PhD students submitting a proposal should be able to communicate about their research (both in writing and verbally) in English.

Proposal details

Proposals and letters of recommendation for the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship will be accepted through Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM (Noon) Pacific Daylight Time. The below outlines the information necessary to submit your proposal in our submission portal.

You will be asked to answer the below questions in a form:

    • Your name, email, country, university, and department
    • Primary and secondary areas of research (from those noted in the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site)
    • Thesis proposal or research statement title
    • Month and year entered the PhD program and expected graduation date (you must be entering your third year or beyond sometime between August 2021 – July 2022)
    • URL to your professional website (optional, but strongly recommended; you are encouraged to make certain it is up-to-date)
    • One to three academic conferences you are most likely to attend
    • Self-assessment of the Statement of Good Standing: “I declare I have never been disciplined for inappropriate behavior, including, but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism. If I am selected to receive funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program, during my funding time period, I agree to inform Microsoft should I be subjected to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism which would result in forfeiture of funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program.

You will be asked to upload 3 documents:

Your curriculum vitae, thesis proposal or research statement, and one-page summary will be uploaded separately. Proposals must be submitted in English, and accepted formats are docx, doc, and pdf. Email or hard-copy submissions will not be considered. Name the individual files using the convention indicated below. Include your first name and last name as part of your file name each separated by an underscore (e.g. Jane_Smith_cv.docx).

    • Curriculum vitae – file name: cv
    • Thesis proposal or research statement (short and concise is recommended—no more than five pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point) – file name: thesis
    • One-page summary (including references with font no smaller than 10-point) of the above thesis proposal or research statement with the first paragraph describing the desired impact your research will have in the field and in society, and why it is important to you – file name: summary

You will be asked to request 2 letters of recommendation (third one being optional) via the submission portal:

    • Add the contact information (name, affiliation, email) and send the email request through the submission portal to your two or three recommenders as soon as possible so they have ample time to provide a letter. Their deadline is the same as your proposal deadline on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM (Noon) Pacific Daylight Time. They should be established researchers familiar with your research (at least one of which must be from your primary academic advisor/supervisor and only one letter can be from a current Microsoft employee). Once you send the request through the submission portal, they will receive a private link to upload a letter of recommendation for you. Please note that you and your recommenders may need to check your junk folders in order to find emails from our portal. As reference, here is a list of the various system email addresses you can add to allowed emails.

Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information submitted in the proposals. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Microsoft reserves the right to make public the information on those proposals that receive awards, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.

Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

For questions regarding proposals, contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.

FAQ

Eligibility questions

What if I’m a student attending a university in a Latin American country not listed?

Students attending a school outside of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico are ineligible for this fellowship at this time.

What if I will not be in my third year or beyond during the submission period?

Students must be entering their third year or beyond of their PhD program sometime between August 2021 – July 2022 having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.

In what language should the proposal be submitted?

All documents should be in English.

Areas of research

You specify very broad focus areas of research. Are there any proposals or projects that you are more interested in than others or is it up to us to choose? Is it mostly software solutions or is there any hardware interest?

There are plenty of both hardware and software projects currently in Microsoft Research. The reason the areas of research are broad is that Microsoft Research is very broad, and there are a number of people reviewing the fellowship proposals across a wide range of areas. Look at the work people in Microsoft Research are doing by clicking on the areas noted in the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site which will give you some idea of the focus areas within the broad areas to guide your focus area choice. In the end, propose the work you are interested in doing.

How do areas of interest factor into fellowship proposal evaluations? Are there areas of interest that Microsoft Research is more focused on this year?

It depends on the individuals involved in reviewing the proposal, and it is hard to say what is going to be of more interest. The trends of the industry are probably going to be reflected in what is interesting in general. Guiding question: Imagine you succeed. Tell us how someone’s life changes as a result.

How do I determine my primary and secondary areas of research? Where is the appropriate place to describe how they relate to my work (whether it’s methodologically or theoretically)?

  • Your choices of primary and secondary areas of research help us choose who reviews your proposal.
  • Pick areas that align with conferences/journals where you would publish.
  • The one-pager is the appropriate place to describe how research areas relate to your research.

How do I choose which to pick for my area of research if my research is very interdisciplinary?

Microsoft Research is interdisciplinary, so it is something we understand. What you choose as an area of research is a “soft” preference and will simply help us better route your proposal. Utilize the primary and secondary areas of research option to help capture and communicate your area of research the best you can.

Here are some suggestions and guiding questions to help you choose a research area:

  • Imagine you succeed. Tell us how someone’s life changes as a result.
  • Do you have a home conference? Are there one or two conferences you go to in a more specific area?
  • Is there a set of faculty/professors you know in a specific area?
  • Who do you want to be reading your proposal?
  • Who would you want to network with? What area of research are they in?
  • Who would be most excited about my topic? What area of research are they in?

How related does my work need to be to the research at Microsoft?

Your work should be of interest to Microsoft Research lab members or those within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft; however, it doesn’t need to directly line up with an existing project or topic. It is important for your work to be related enough that we will be able to review it and have interest in supporting it. Microsoft Research is large, interdisciplinary, and covers a broad area — use the Our research menu in the top navigation of this site as a guideline for the areas we cover. When in doubt, we suggest you browse the webpages of Microsoft Research lab members and those within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft who look like they may be related to your area and see if they have papers in the similar topics or publish in conferences you publish in and/or attend. If you find one or more such people that share these connections with you, then you can feel confident that your work is related enough to submit a proposal.

Thesis proposal or research statement

Are there specific pieces of information I am required to include in my research statement (i.e. research aims, timelines, deliverables) or are you looking for more of a narrative, descriptive format of a student’s plan for their doctoral research?

Your research statement should be more of a narrative format. Timelines and deliverables are not necessary. We want to see what you are interested in, where your work is going, and how you would use this fellowship to further your research and contribute to the academic community.

What sort of balance is expected between what we have done, what we are doing, and what we are planning on doing?

When reviewing a proposal, we are looking for more of a future plan. Your research papers tell us what you have done, use the research statement to tell us where you are going.

If we have just submitted a paper that is going to guide a lot of direction going forward, would you recommend submitting that as preliminary data or attaching an unpublished paper to the proposal?

If it is relevant, and all co-authors approve of you submitting the unpublished work, we recommend including this in your submission by providing a link in your proposal to the information housed online somewhere like OneDrive (do not add pages to your proposal). Again, all papers should be approved by all-co-authors, for both published and unpublished works.

Should the one-page research statement be a short synopsis of the five-page research statement, or should they contain distinctively different content?

The one-page research statement and the five-page research statement should not contain different content; one should be a shorter version of the other. The purpose of the shorter version is to help us triage where proposals go to get reviewed, and its first paragraph should describe the desired impact your research will make on the field and society.

Should I be aware of formatting criteria while writing my research statement?

Your research statement should be no more than 5 pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point. The one-page summary of the aforementioned thesis proposal or research statement should also include references.

Letters of recommendation

My undergrad was in a different field so the research was very different from what I am doing now. Who should write my letters of recommendation?

Given you have two (with an option of three) letters, it would be good to include a letter from one person who can speak about your current research and one person who has known you longer, even if it may not be in your current research area. The longer-term perspective is definitely important and valuable. The value of a letter is evaluating how you work, how you collaborate with people, and what your process is as a researcher. This transcends what your particular topic is. Keep in mind that one letter doesn’t have to address all things; across all two or three letters, we want to get a full picture of who you are over a longer term, but also insight into your recent work.

Are you more interested in learning about technical and research specific aspects of my work, or are other things, such as outreach/other university activities of interest as well?

The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to provide us with the bigger picture of what you are doing, how you work as a researcher, how you learn, how you approach projects, and how you collaborate with others. The letter will also provide us with insight from people who have been working with you and observing you for some amount of time.

It was suggested that letters of recommendation come from established researchers. Is this limited to faculty members or would the inclusion of collaborators be acceptable as well?

At least one recommendation needs to come from an advisor/supervisor, but letters of recommendation from collaborators are allowed. We are looking for people who can speak to you, your work as a researcher, and your character.

For the letters of recommendation, is it a system where you list the people and your system will ask those people?

Those you provided as recommenders in our system will be sent an auto-generated email with instructions to upload their letters of recommendation.

Review process

How will proposals be judged?

Reviewers will rate proposals based on the technical/scientific quality and the potential impact of the proposed research.

Who will review the proposals?

Proposals will be reviewed by Microsoft Research lab members and researchers within an applied research group in other parts of Microsoft whose expertise covers a wide range of disciplines.

What are you looking for when you review my proposal?

Accomplishment, impact, and alignment with the work that we are doing at Microsoft Research. Highlight papers you have published and any awards you have received. Describe the impact that your research will have on others and how this award will enable your research.

When will I know the outcome of the review process?

Students will be contacted by the end of September regarding the outcome of their submission. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

Award details

If selected, when will my fellowship begin?

Persons awarded a fellowship in October 2021 will receive their financial awards at the beginning their fourth academic year or beyond. Microsoft sends the payment directly to the university, which then disperses funds according to its guidelines. For example, if your academic year begins in September, your university will receive your funding by September. If your academic year begins in March, your university will receive your funding by March.

Are there any tax implications for me if I receive this fellowship?

The tax implications for the fellowship are based on the policy at your university and applicable tax laws.

Will intellectual property be an issue if I am awarded a fellowship?

The Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship is not subject to any intellectual property (IP) restrictions.

Can I simultaneously receive fellowships from other companies?

If you accept a Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship, you may receive another fellowship from another company or institution during the same academic period.

Is childcare an approved use of the fellowship?

Absolutely! There is no limit to the amount of your stipend that can be used for childcare.

For questions not found above, contact Microsoft Research Fellowships at msfellow@microsoft.com.

Community

Meet the 2021 Microsoft Research Fellows

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Joshua BrakensiekJoshua Brakensiek

Stanford University

2021 PhD Fellowship

2021 Ada Lovelace recipient: Stefany CruzStefany Cruz

Northwestern University

2021 Ada Lovelace Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 Ada Lovelace recipient: Emma DautermanEmma Dauterman

University of California, Berkeley

2021 Ada Lovelace Fellowship | Acceptance video

head shot of Adebayo EisapeAdebayo Eisape

Johns Hopkins University

2021 PhD Fellowship | Acceptance video

Microsoft Research 2021 PhD Fellow: Jordan HenkelJordan Henkel

University of Wisconsin-Madison

2021 PhD Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Jiaxin HuangJiaxin Huang

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2021 PhD Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 Ada Lovelace recipient: Demba KommaDemba Komma

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

2021 Ada Lovelace Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Sekwon LeeSekwon Lee

The University of Texas at Austin

2021 PhD Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Lianhui QinLianhui Qin

University of Washington

2021 PhD Fellowship

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Morgan ScheuermanMorgan Klaus Scheuerman

University of Colorado Boulder

2021 PhD Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 Ada Lovelace recipient: Marrok SedgwickMarrok Sedgwick

University of Illinois at Chicago

2021 Ada Lovelace Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Valeri VasquezVáleri N. Vásquez

University of California, Berkeley

2021 PhD Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Randi WilliamsRandi Williams

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2021 PhD Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 Ada Lovelace recipient: Xinyu WuXinyu Wu

Carnegie Mellon University

2021 Ada Lovelace Fellowship | Acceptance video

2021 PhD Fellowship recipient: Bin YangBin Yang

University of Toronto

2021 PhD Fellowship

2020 Award Recipients

2020 PhD Fellow: David AcunaDavid Acuna

University of Toronto

2020 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Emily AlsentzerEmily Alsentzer

Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2020 PhD Fellowship

2020 LATAM PhD Award: Segun AroyehunSegun Taofeek Aroyehun

Instituto Politécnico Nacional

2020 Latin America PhD Award

2020 EMEA PhD Award: Lukas BurkhalterLukas Burkhalter

ETH Zürich

2020 EMEA PhD Award

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Poulami DasPoulami Das

Georgia Institute of Technology

2020 PhD Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Sarah FakhourySarah Fakhoury

Washington State University

2020 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Hao-Shu FangHao-Shu Fang

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

2020 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Daya GuoDaya Guo

Sun Yat-sen University

2020 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Xu HanXu Han

Tsinghua University

2020 Asia Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Zoe HitzigZoë Hitzig

Harvard University

2020 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Yangbangyan JiangYangbangyan Jiang

University of Chinese Academy of Sciences

2020 Asia Fellowship

2020 PhD Fellow: Jazette JohnsonJazette Johnson

University of California, Irvine

2020 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Sanghoon KangSanghoon Kang

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

2020 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Naoki KimuraNaoki Kimura

The University of Tokyo

2020 Asia Fellowship

2020 PhD Fellow: Aditi LaddhaAditi Laddha

Georgia Institute of Technology

2020 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Zhiyuan LiZhiyuan Li

Princeton University

2020 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Zili MengZili Meng

Tsinghua University

2020 Asia Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Amine MhedhbiAmine Mhedhbi

University of Waterloo

2020 PhD Fellowship

2020 LATAM PhD Award: Facundo MolinaFacundo Molina

Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto

2020 Latin America PhD Award

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Ling PanLing Pan

Tsinghua University

2020 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Tianyu PangTianyu Pang

Tsinghua University

2020 Asia Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Wilson QinWilson Qin

Harvard University

2020 PhD Fellowship

2020 PhD Fellow: Sarah RileySarah A. Riley

Cornell University

2020 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

2020 LATAM PhD Award: Jessica SoaresJéssica Soares dos Santos

Universidade Federal Fluminense

2020 Latin America PhD Award

2020 EMEA PhD Award: Siddharth SwaroopSiddharth Swaroop

University of Cambridge

2020 EMEA PhD Award

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Jingxian WangJingxian Wang

Carnegie Mellon University

2020 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Sanghyun WooSanghyun Woo

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

2020 Asia Fellowship

2020 PhD Fellow: Wenqi XianWenqi Xian

Cornell University

2020 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Juheon YiJuheon Yi

Seoul National University

2020 Asia Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Jiyong YuJiyong Yu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2020 PhD Fellowship

2020 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow: Jieyu ZhaoJieyu Zhao

University of California, Los Angeles

2020 PhD Fellowship

2020 EMEA PhD Award: Luisa ZintgrafLuisa Zintgraf

University of Oxford

2020 EMEA PhD Award

Microsoft Research Asia 2020 Fellow: Mo ZouMo Zou

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

2020 Asia Fellowship

2019 Award Recipients

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Shijie CaoShijie Cao

Harbin Institute of Technology

2019 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Zhenpeng ChenZhenpeng Chen

Peking University

2019 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Yinpeng DongYinpeng Dong

Tsinghua University

2019 Asia Fellowship

Constantin Dory, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerConstantin Dory

Stanford University

2019 PhD Fellowship

Danielle Gonzalez, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerDanielle Gonzalez

Rochester Institute of Technology

2019 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Insu HanInsu Han

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

2019 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Hirofumi InagumaHirofumi Inaguma

Kyoto University

2019 Asia Fellowship

Hiwot Tadese Kassa, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerHiwot Tadese Kassa

University of Michigan

2019 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Os Keyes, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerOs Keyes

University of Washington

2019 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Daehyeok Kim, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerDaehyeok Kim

Carnegie Mellon University

2019 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Dahun KImDahun KIm

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

2019 Asia Fellowship

Chao Liao: 2019 Asia Fellowship recipientChao Liao

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

2019 Asia Fellowship

Lydia T. Liu, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerLydia T. Liu

University of California, Berkeley

2019 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Divine Maloney, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerDivine Maloney

Clemson University

2019 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Jayashree Mohan, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerJayashree Mohan

The University of Texas at Austin

2019 PhD Fellowship

Ramakanth Pasunuru, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerRamakanth Pasunuru

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2019 PhD Fellowship

Daniel Rakita, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerDaniel Rakita

University of Wisconsin-Madison

2019 PhD Fellowship

Raghuvansh R. Saxena, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerRaghuvansh R. Saxena

Princeton University

2019 PhD Fellowship

Izzy Starr, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerIzzy Starr

University at Buffalo

2019 Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Muoi TranMuoi Tran

National University of Singapore, School of Computing

2019 Asia Fellowship

Joana M. F. da Trindade, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerJoana M. F. da Trindade

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2019 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Taining WangTaining Wang

National University of Singapore

2019 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Chuhan WuChuhan Wu

Tsinghua University

2019 Asia Fellowship

Zuxuan Wu, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerZuxuan Wu

University of Maryland

2019 PhD Fellowship

Katherine Ye, 2019 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship winnerKatherine Ye

Carnegie Mellon University

2019 PhD Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Hongming ZhangHongming Zhang

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

2019 Asia Fellowship

Microsoft Research Asia - 2019 Fellow: Zizhao ZhangZizhao Zhang

Tsinghua University

2019 Asia Fellowship