Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS) is a four-year national leadership development program for full-time doctoral students from nonclinical, research-focused disciplines in which policy is a key lever for change (e.g., urban planning; political science; economics; anthropology; education; social work; sociology). HPRS is designed for students who are committed to ensuring their research is aligned with the health needs of communities. The program is focused on doctoral students who want to improve health, well-being, and equity; challenge longstanding, entrenched systems; exhibit new ways of working; collaborate across disciplines and sectors; and bolster their leadership skills. By providing training in health policy, how to think strategically, and how to craft an actionable research question that can inform solutions to advance health equity—as well as mentorship, career and leadership coaching—HPRS will develop a new community of research leaders who will build a Culture of Health in their disciplines and communities.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognizes that the increasing diversity in the country’s population can best be served when research and researchers also reflect that diversity. The world needs diverse perspectives as our nation identifies key health policy questions and evaluates the impact of proposed policy solutions. The disproportionate burden of poor health (and the disproportionate exposure to environmental and socioeconomic conditions that lead to poor health) is borne by individuals and communities marginalized because of their race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or other factors. That is why increasing the number of doctoral scholars from historically marginalized backgrounds and populations underrepresented in specific doctoral disciplines is a focus of this program.

The goal of HPRS is to cultivate transformational leaders from diverse backgrounds with doctoral training—representing a wide range of research-focused disciplines—who will inform and influence policy toward a Culture of Health. Specifically, they aim to recruit doctoral students from a variety of fields/disciplines (e.g., urban planning; political science; economics; anthropology; education; engineering; geography; and lab/bench sciences) who are seeking to use policy change to advance population health and health equity. They strongly encourage applications from nonhealth-related disciplines; having scholars from diverse fields is critical to advancing a Culture of Health. Up to 40 scholars will be selected for the 2023 cohort.



  • Number of scholars in the 2023 cohort:  up to 40
  • Award Funds: $30,000 per year for up to four years or until you complete your doctoral program (whichever is sooner).
  • Administrative fee: Home institutions may include an administrative fee of $1,000 per year ($4,000 in total) to the grant amount to cover the administrative costs of managing the award.



  • Applicants must be starting full-time, second-year doctoral studies in fall 2023 at a degree-granting institution based in the United States or its territories;
  • Applicants must have at least three academic years remaining in their doctoral program and not expect to graduate before spring/summer 2026;
  • Applicants must be from populations underrepresented in specific doctoral disciplines and/or historically marginalized backgrounds. Examples of marginalized backgrounds include, but are not limited to, first-generation college graduates; individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds; individuals from communities of color; and individuals with disabilities. If an applicant is applying because their background is underrepresented in a specific discipline, or from a marginalized background not listed above, the applicant must clearly describe how they meet the eligibility criteria in the application form;
  • Applicants cannot be a recipient of a national fellowship program that prohibits participation in additional programs such as HPRS;
  • Applicants must be at least 21 years old as of September 1, 2023;
  • Federal, state, tribal, and local government employees are eligible to apply unless they are considered government officials under Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Status or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application. As federal policy or laws change, we may need to consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms;
  • Applicants cannot be related by blood or marriage to any Officer, Manager, or Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson


Eligible Regions: United states.

Application Process

  • A CV that is a maximum of four pages long.
  • To support you in the program, you’ll need to identify a  faculty mentor from your home institution granting your doctoral degree. You will need to submit a copy of this persons CV with your application.
  • Your home institution mentor must provide a reference \. identify another person to provide the second reference.
  • All doctoral transcripts.


Application Deadline: March 15, 2023

Application ClosedOfficial link

For Further Queries

For further queries please their official website.
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