The Commonwealth Fund’s Harkness Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for mid-career health services researchers and practitioners to conduct original research in the US, and work with leading US health policy experts.

About the fellowships

Nuffield Trust Senior Fellow, Ruth Thorlby discusses her experience of being a Harkness Fellow in 2008-2009. 

Nuffield Trust has supported the UK Harkness Fellowships since 2009 and continues to help develop the next generation of leaders. The UK Harkness Fellowships are also now supported by the National Institute for Health Research.

The Harkness Fellowships were established in 1925 and they enable mid-career professionals to spend up to 12 months in the US conducting a policy-oriented research study. Working with leading US health policy experts, Fellows gain an in-depth knowledge of the US health care system and their own health systems.

For someone involved in health care policy-making, or who wants to influence health care policy, the Harkness Fellowship is a fantastic opportunity.

Derek Feeley, 2005-06 Harkness Fellow, Director General of Health and Social Care and Chief Executive for the NHS in Scotland

Each fellowship will provide up to US $107,000 in support, which includes a round trip airfare to the US, a monthly stipend, travel to a programme of Harkness seminars and policy briefings, project-related travel and other research expenses, health insurance, and US taxes. In addition, a supplemental allowance is provided to Fellows accompanied by a spouse and/or children.

As well as helping UK Harkness Fellows with their preparations, Nuffield Trust also showcases returning Fellows and promotes their research through briefings with high-level officials, policy seminars and invited papers. Nuffield Trust also provides a London base for all UK Harkness Fellows and supports opportunities for policy exchanges that bring Harkness alumni together with other international experts.

The Commonwealth Fund also brings together the full class of Fellows throughout the year to participate in a series of policy and leadership seminars with US health care leaders drawn from government, politics, health care organisations and academia.


Harkness Fellowships Blog

We encourage current UK Harkness Fellows to blog about their experiences in the US – their blogs are published on the Nuffield Trust website and cross-posted on the Health Service Journal website.


Eligibility criteria

The fellowships are open to academic researchers, clinicians, managers, government policy-makers and journalists from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK. In the UK, eligibility is open to citizens of other countries with permanent residency and five or more year’s residence in the UK.

Applicants must demonstrate a strong interest in health policy issues and propose a study within the scope of The Commonwealth Fund’s mission to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.

Building on their fellowship experiences, past Harkness Fellows have moved into senior positions within academia, government and health care delivery organisations, making valuable contributions to health policy and practice at home and in the US. In addition, Harkness Fellows become part of a strong international network, with opportunities for ongoing cross-national collaborations and research.

The deadline for 2014/15 UK applicants has now passed. For further details please visit The Commonwealth Fund's website

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