Overview of the Harkness Fellowships

The Commonwealth Fund invites promising mid-career professionals—academic researchers, clinicians, managers, government policymakers, and journalists—from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom, to apply for a unique opportunity to spend up to 12 months in the United States as a Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. Fellows work with leading U.S. experts to study a critical issue on the health policy agenda in both the U.S. and their home country. A rich program of seminars organized by the Fund throughout the year further enhances the fellowship experience (described in the Fellowship Seminars section.)

Fellows can expect to gain an in-depth understanding of the U.S. health care system and policy challenges, enhance their methodological skills, and develop valuable contacts and opportunities for ongoing cross-national exchange and collaboration.

In addition to the opportunity to conduct a research study in the U.S., the Harkness Fellowships provide space to think and reflect without the pressures of day-to-day job responsibilities.

Building on their fellowship experiences, Harkness Fellows have moved into prominent positions within academia, government, and health care delivery organizations, making valuable contributions to health policy and practice at home and in the United States. Harkness Fellows also become part of a strong international network of health policy researchers and practitioners, developing important contacts for ongoing international exchange and collaboration.

Each fellowship provides up to U.S. $130,000 in support (which covers roundtrip airfare to the United States, a living allowance, funds for project-related travel, research, conferences, travel to attend The Commonwealth Fund program of fellowship seminars, health insurance, and U.S. federal and state taxes) for terms up to 12 months, with a minimum stay of ten months in the United States required. Individually tailored, the fellowships allow flexibility to accommodate professional commitments and personal circumstances. A peer-reviewed journal article or policy report is the anticipated product of each project.

Applicants must demonstrate a strong interest in health policy issues and submit a formal application that includes a research proposal which falls within the scope of The Commonwealth Fund's goals 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. 

2019-20 Harkness Fellowship Application Deadlines:
September 4, 2018: Australia and New Zealand
November 12, 2018: Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom

Up to 13 Fellows are selected annually, typically one from Australia, one from Canada, one from France, two from Germany, two from the Netherlands, one from New Zealand, one from Norway, and four from the United Kingdom.

Once selected, the Commonwealth Fund will assist Fellows in developing and shaping their research proposals. The Fund will introduce Fellows to U.S. policy experts, with whom they will be encouraged to discuss their projects to gain further feedback. Through its extensive network of contacts, the Fund will help identify and place Fellows with mentors who are experts in the policy areas to be studied. In the United States, the Fund will place each Fellow with a mentor who is based at a university, think tank, health care organization, or government agency. Mentors supervise Fellows' research, provide technical expertise and guidance, and facilitate access to data, colleagues, and organizations.

The 2019-20 Harkness Fellows in Health Care Policy and Practice will arrive in the United States from August to September 2019. During their stay in the United States, Fellows identify and collect data, conduct site visits or interviews, and meet with experts, as they undertake a substantive research study addressing critical issues of policy and practice related to the U.S. and their home country.

Fellows present project findings at a final reporting seminar in June. The expected product is a peer-reviewed journal article or report for Health Ministers and other high-level policy audiences. Harkness Fellows publish their project findings in leading journals (such as the BMJ, Health Affairs, Journal of the American Medical Association, and New England Journal of Medicine).

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