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Eligibility Requirements set by IBM PhD Fellowship

(Does not represent any political opinions of Faculty or Staff of UC San Diego)

Must be nominated by a doctoral faculty member; students cannot nominate themselves.

Enrolled full-time in a PhD program over the two consecutive academic years of the award or forfeit the fellowship.

Should have three years remaining in their program at the time of nomination so the fellowship can be applied to the last two years of study.

Students from U.S. embargoed countries are not eligible for the program.
Students receiving a comparable fellowship, internship, or support from another company or institution (except for academic scholarships) during the IBM PhD Fellowship funding period are ineligible for this award

Notice to Applicants: you must stay in the same program for the duration of the award —no transferring of departments or schools.


Students may not "Self Nominate"

Faculty should coordinate their nomination(s) with their department chair there is a limit of three (3) nominations per department. Four (4) nominations are allowed from each university. If four nominations are submitted, It is IBM Global University program’s expectation that two of the four applications are for diversity candidates or underrepresented populations in technology.

Community of People(s) Underrepresented in Technology

WomanAfrican AmericanHispanicNative American
Active Duty Service MemberBlackLatinxAlaska Native
Veteran Service MemberDisabled PersonIndigenous PeoplesNative Hawaiian
LGBTQ+Blank Field for Future AdditionsPacific Islander

Faculty submit nominations for the annual IBM PhD Fellowship program in the fall of every year, and exact times may vary from year to year. The 2022 application window will run from October 11 through November 5. Notification of nominee status takes place in early spring 2023 and are contingent upon the completion of all required documentation and due diligence requirements.


Submit proposals that address accelerating the discovery process in scientific inquiry and impact real issues. Submittals should support one of the subsets of a major category in the following list:

Hybrid Cloud

Optimization of incorporating open standards and open-source code resulting in the enablement and creation of a seamless hybrid cloud platform that can be deployed anywhere. Proposals can include Platform Enablement and Optimization with an open-source component; or use this category for interdisciplinary entries.

Flexibility and Scalability. Submittals could propose research that leads to the creation of hybrid cloud platforms enables more flexible, scalable computing, unifying local environments with a virtually limitless pool of computing power and capabilities, making bits, neurons, and qubits available on-demand.

Accelerating adoption. Making hybrid cloud adoption easier and safer by enhancing agility through automation. Submittals could address leveraging AI for code to help automate essential tasks like application modernization, vulnerability detection in code, troubleshooting of IT reliability issues, and research focusing on cutting edge technologies in antivirus and other protection mechanisms.

Security. Focus on designing for security and compliance in niche areas or across the stack: from the hardware, encryption technologies, the hybrid cloud platform, to the SecDevOps pipeline. Trusted service identity/ identity access management across the stack or address niche areas such as high assurance through Encrypted Container Images. Research covering any and all arrays of software and platforms are encouraged.

Edge Computing

AI advancements in hardware or training models, characterizing and classifying unknown instances, and federated learning. Security topics are highly encouraged: data encryption, storage advancements, unified endpoint management, and firmware or chip-level proposals.

AI Hardware

Processing efficiency. The next improvements in devices, architectures, and algorithms Nominations could include research that combines these topics and apply them to Deep Neural Networks far beyond the present architectures of GPUs and CMOS Accelerators.

Digital AI Cores. New accelerators for existing semiconductor technologies that use reduced precision to speed computation and decrease power consumption using reduced precision techniques.

Analog Cores. Memory-based technology to advance AI at VLSI, analog memory devices and hardware accelerators, mixed precision in-memory computing, hybrid design for AI Software, and other 8-bit breakthroughs.

Heterogeneous Integration. AI applications drive the need for a system level optimization of AI Hardware through Heterogeneous Integration of Accelerators, Memory and CPU to enable high-speed/high-bandwidth connectivity components. Proposals can bridge these areas.

Machine Intelligence/Neural Networks. Machine Intelligence differs from machine learning. Solving some of AI's greatest challenges using associative reasoning to mimic human intelligence. with brain science.

AI Engineering

Optimization. Tools for AI creators to reduce the time they spend training, maintaining, and updating their models. New approaches, strategies, and research to explore advanced problems automatically. Best models for ML and data science pipelines, best architectures for deep learning, and best hyperparameters for AI models and algorithms.

Privacy and Security. IT Infrastructure consumption models, privacy assurance, hybrid cloud strategies, storage infrastructures, privacy and security assurance held in the hardware, and progressive hybrid cloud infrastructure including storage optimization.

Neuro Symbolic AI

Deep Learning to combine the power of neural networks with symbolic methods to advance AI reasoning effectiveness.

Neuro-symbolic AI NLP and QA. Submittals that cover applied challenges posited by neural networks, like symbolic AI, Q&A, probabilistic physics inference models, or new neuro-symbolic technique. New systems for knowledge-based question answering.

Secure, Trusted AI

Secure, Trusted AI. Building evaluating, and monitoring for trust. AI is developing diverse approaches for how to achieve fairness, robustness, explainability, accountability, value alignment, and how to integrate them throughout the entire lifecycle of an AI application.

Techniques to detect and mitigate bias in datasets and models. Addressing the need for understanding and removing gender stereotypes, as well as citing and/or rating AI services for bias.

Robustness, and Privacy. Evaluating and defending machine learning models and applications against adversarial threats and/or conform to required privacy.

Explain-ability, Accountability, and/or Transparency. Advancing an AI system to ‘explain itself.’ Exploring the inner workings of an algorithm to provide stakeholders explanations for different purposes and objectives that are tailored to their needs.


Advanced foundational quantum information science. Exploring and developing new quantum algorithms to reducing error rates to ensure more accurate and reliable results.

Quantum hardware. Specialized quantum hardware and systems to scale Quantum volume while also increasing qubit count.

Quantum Circuits and Software. Development of quantum circuits and software to explore and develop compelling use cases for this powerful new form of computing.

Award recipients will be selected based on their overall potential for research excellence, the degree to which their technical interests align with those of IBM, and their progress to-date, as evidenced by publications and endorsements from their faculty advisor and department head.

Application Must be Filled Out in One Session

PhD Nominee information

Name, Department, Academic or professional website, phone, university name, country, entry date into the program, expected graduation date, current completed degree, visa status if applicable.  Google Scholar  publications and citations, latest completed degree, career goal (professional researcher, professor, etc.)  Interest in an IBM internship, list of all IBM activities (communities, sponsored collaborations, activities, conferences, courses, internships, presentations, events, promotions, products, services, etc. with which the student has engaged.

Student Curriculum Vitae (CV) — limit three pages, PhD Project or Dissertation Title, and then a 2,000 chars limit description that should be organized into sections: Research Question or Hypothesis, Methodology Summary, and Analysis. Include an answer to, “What would be the impact if this was work was not conducted? Why did the student select this field of study and line of inquiry?

Faculty Advisor Information

Name, University, Department, Title, Professional/Academic Website that ties you to the university, phone, university email, university street address, country. Include an answer to, “There are many Fellowship programs available to students. Tell us what prompted you to nominate this student for the IBM PhD Fellowship Award?”  Evaluation of the student and list of personal attributes, accolades or awards. If possible, provide the name of an IBM Colleague and the manner of acquaintance.

Department Head Information

Name, Dept, email and a short supporting statement that is customized to the student and not a boilerplate recommendation.

University Administrator Information

Names and email of university admins that process donations to the university; also university officials with signator capacity. Privacy and Consent Statements for Faculty and Nominee. Once you gather all of the information, and access the form, follow all of the instructions. You will be allowed to cut and paste text into text fields. Stay away from highly formatted source material, .txt work the best. Felicity Dominguez Howell Tamara Schaps Will discuss this in coming weeks and post the details.


The IBM PhD Fellowship payments are sent out to the university no later than the last quarter of the year. The timing of the payment depends heavily on the engagement of the nominator and the university in returning all documentation expeditiously. Awards are payable to the university or foundation, not directly to the student awardee. All nominations must include contact information for a university finance administrator for the department (designated in the nomination form by the faculty advisor) who can confirm details for payment.

Please Address All Fellowship Questions to:

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