World Bank Robert S. McNamara (RSM) Fellowship 2020 (for Ph.D. students in developing countries)


The Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program (RSMFP) provides support to developing country citizens who are current PhD candidates studying in developing countries. This is a wonderful opportunity for the most promising developing nation researchers to advance their doctoral work with the best international advisors and host institutions in their fields of study.

Each year, the World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program awards grants of up to $25,000 for PhD candidates in developing countries to travel abroad for 6-10 months under the supervision of a research advisor at a university or other research institution to advance their PhD thesis research on a development topic.

The next call for applications will be open from January 16 to February 13, 2020.

What can an applicant do before the next call?

  • Identify a university advisor abroad who will sponsor your fellowship funded PhD research.  Please note, RSMFP does not provide guidance on choosing a host institution or research advisor.
  • Ensure both your PhD advisor and your host university advisor are aware of and support your proposal for research that would be funded by an RSM fellowship.
  • Begin gathering required documentation for the fellowship application, including:

(1) if you are employed, proof of current employment;

(2) diploma of highest degree earned; and

(3) an official statement from your current university that you are either: (i) currently enrolled as a PhD student and have completed all coursework and exam requirements for your doctoral program; or (ii) currently enrolled in a research-only PhD program.


This fellowship is open to PhD candidates whose thesis is on a development topic and who are:

  • From and residing in a World Bank member developing country;
  • Enrolled in a PhD program in a developing country at the time of application; having already passed all coursework and exam requirements for attaining a PhD at the time of application;
  • Under 36 years old on January 16, 2020;
  • Not dual citizens of a developed country;
  • Not staff member (which includes consultant) or a relative of a staff member of the World Bank Group.

How to Apply

When the call for applications is open, the application guidelines, online application, and a final list of eligibility criteria will be available on this site.

The RSMFP application must be completed online by the Application Deadline date and include:

  • The completed application form
  • An agreement to the terms and conditions for an RSMFP fellowship listed on the Application Form’s Signature Page;
  • A completed recommendation form submitted online by the host university research advisor; and
  • A completed recommendation form submitted online by the PhD Thesis supervisor.

All required documents must be uploaded online. Any documents an applicant provides by email, post or any means other than the online application form will not be reviewed.

Selection Process

The RSMFP uses the following process to review completed applications, with the aim to identify eligible candidates with the most innovative and relevant research proposals in the area of development.

Two qualified reviewers independently review each eligible application to assess the following:

  1. Quality of the proposed fellowship (70%)
  2. Prospects for a productive career in research on development post-PhD (30%)

Information provided by your PhD thesis supervisor and your host institution research advisor are particularly important elements of your application.

The World Bank Robert S. McNamara Secretariat uses the average score of the two reviewers and the following other aspects to select the finalists:

  • Maintaining a reasonably wide geographical distribution of awards;
  • Maintaining a reasonable distribution of awards across gender;
  • Giving fellowships to those applicants who, other things equal, appear to have limited financial resources;
  • Giving preference to applicants currently employed as lecturers or researchers at an academic or research institution in a member developing country of the World Bank;
  • Giving preference to applicants who have not received a JJ/WBGSP scholarship for a master’s degree program.

The finalists are presented to the World Bank Robert S. McNamara Steering Committee (composed of some members of the World Bank Board of Directors and WB management) for final review and selection of the winners of the award. The RSMFP Secretariat notifies the public on this website that the selection is made and individually informs the winners of the Fellowship

For more information, visit the official link

Inquires can be addressed to [email protected].


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