Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility
Application Process
Review and Selection Process
Other

 

Eligibility Questions

  • What field do I have to be in to apply? What degree do I need?
  • Is experience or a background in health or health policy research required?
  • I hold a Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree.  How will it factor into the evaluation of my application?
  • I am a medical doctor. Am I eligible for the Scholars Program?
  • Do I have to be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency status?
  • Can I apply to the Program again, if I am not accepted this year?
  • Can I defer my entrance if I am offered admission into the Program?

What field do I have to be in to apply? What degree do I need?
You must have a PhD in economics, political science, or sociology received after January 1, 2009 and before July 15, 2014 to be eligible for the 2014 -2016 cohort.

Is experience or a background in health or health policy research required?
No. The Scholars Program is not a fellowship for individuals who already have an extensive background in health, health care, or health policy. In fact, preference is given to applicants who have not previously worked extensively in health. The goal of the Program is to foster a new generation of creative, health policy thinkers and researchers within the disciplines of economics, political science, and sociology. The Program is designed, therefore, to recruit talented individuals with little or no health background, introduce them to the field of health policy research, and, in this way, influence them to include health-related topics in their future research agendas.

I hold a Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree.  How will it factor into the evaluation of my application?
The Program is intended to recruit talented economists, political scientists, and sociologists with little or no health background, introduce them to the field of health policy research, and, in this way, influence them to include health-related topics in their future research agendas.  For this reason, the Program gives preference to individuals who have not worked extensively in health and health policy research.  An applicant’s relative exposure to health and health policy is one of the factors weighed in evaluating an application.  Individuals who hold advanced degrees (e.g., MPH, MHA or MS) in health or health policy, in addition to holding a PhD in economics, political science or sociology, are already on a career path toward health policy research and, therefore, are not prime candidates for this Program.  Other Robert Wood Johnson Foundation programs may be more suitable, for example, the Health & Society Scholars Program, New Connections, or the Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program.  For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at: www.rwjf.org.

I am a medical doctor. Am I eligible for the Scholars Program?
To be eligible for the Scholars Program, you must have a PhD in economics, political science, or sociology. Individuals who hold professional degrees, such as an MD or JD, but who do not hold a PhD in a requisite social science discipline are not eligible for the Scholars Program. Other Robert Wood Johnson Foundation programs may be more suitable, for example, the Health & Society Scholars Program, New Connections, or the Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program.  For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at: www.rwjf.org.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency status?
Yes. At the time of application, you must be a citizen of the United States or a Permanent Resident Green Card holder. If selected as a awardee, proof of citizenship or permanent resident status will be required within ten days.

Can I apply to the Program again, if I am not accepted this year?
Yes, you may apply again if you are not selected this year. However, you must complete and submit a new application. Please check eligibility requirements to confirm that you remain eligible to apply.

Can I defer my entrance if I am offered admission into the Program?
No, the Scholars in Health Policy Research Program does not allow candidates to defer  offers of admission from year to year.  If a candidate withdraws from the application process at any time, he/she may apply again in the future provided that she continues to meet the Program’s eligibility requirements.  However, the candidate must submit a new application that will be considered within the new applicant pool without reference to previous applications.

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Application Process Questions

  • When will this year's application be available?
  • What does the application consist of?
  • What will I need to submit along with my application form and reference forms?
  • What are the requirements for the references that support my application?
  • Can I submit more than 3 personal references?
  • Can you clarify the required personal statement on my Intellectual Objectives?
  • I have been coauthor on several publications. Can I submit a coauthored paper as my writing sample?
  • What does the 25-page limit on the personal writing sample include?
  • What is the application deadline?
  • Should I state a site preference at the time of application?

When will this year's application be available?
The application materials for the 2014 -2016 cohort are currently available.  View the Call for Applications (CFA).

What does the application consist of?
The application contains the following: (a) the online Application Form; (b) a section for 3 confidential references (required) and (c) a solely authored writing sample.

What will I need to submit along with my application form and references?
You will need to provide:

  • An objective statement regarding program participation, describing the reason(s) for your interest in this program and what you hope to gain by participation in it;
  • a statement regarding your interest in health policy research;
  • a summary of your dissertation research in terms that a broad audience would understand; and
  • a solely authored, 25-page writing sample that you consider to be representative of your research and analytic ability. This sample need not be health-oriented and may be a chapter from your doctoral dissertation, a reprinted journal article, a paper currently under journal review or unpublished work.

What are the requirements for the references that support my application?
You must submit contact information for three personal references, who will provide letters of recommendation. One of the references must be your dissertation chair (i.e., the person responsible for supervising your dissertation research) unless you can justify why an exception to this requirement is needed.

Can I submit more than 3 personal references?
No, you must submit only three references to support your application, one of which must be your dissertation chair (i.e., the person responsible for supervising your dissertation research) unless you can justify why an exception to this requirement is needed. In the interest of fairness we cannot accept more than three letters of reference per applicant.

Can you clarify the required personal statement on my Intellectual Objectives?
We do not expect you to answer an analytical question in the space provided.  However, we are interested in seeing how you would approach such a question. An “analytical perspective”, therefore, may be defined in different ways (e.g., in terms of methods or theoretical frames).  You must decide which of these aspects you wish to address in your response.

I have been a coauthor on several publications. Can I submit a coauthored paper as my writing sample?
Only solely authored articles and writing samples will be accepted.

What does the 25-page limit on the personal writing sample include?
The writing sample must not exceed the equivalent of 25 double-spaced pages of text in 12 point font.  This limit does not include tables, figures, and references. Therefore, in choosing an appropriate writing sample, you should exercise judgment.

What is the application deadline?
The application deadline for the 2014 -2016 cohort will be October 8, 2013.

Should I state a site preference at the time of application?
No. It is to your advantage that your application be considered by all three universities. If, however, you wish to limit your choice because of a significant personal or family consideration, you may indicate that on the application.

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Review and Selection Process Questions

  • Who will review my application?
  • How will my application be evaluated?
  • What are my chances of being selected?
  • When will you let me know if I've been selected or not?

Who will review my application?
All applications are screened by the National Program Office (NPO) and forwarded to members of the National Advisory Committee (who are recognized experts in the social sciences and health policy research), the program site directors, and RWJF staff for extensive review.

How will my application be evaluated?
Evaluation criteria include:

  • The applicant's potential to contribute creatively as a social scientist to future U.S. health policy thinking – either by identifying emerging health policy issues and problems or by bringing new insight to the examination and analysis of existing issues and problems.
  • The applicant's commitment to a career consistent with the program's purpose and goals.
  • The quality of the applicant's past research, including dissertation research.
  • The capability of the applicant to undertake this challenging program.
  • Recommendations by faculty and other individuals with whom the applicant has studied or worked.

What are my chances of being selected?
Each year, between 90 and 150 applications are received. For the 2014-2016 competition, approximately 25 finalists will be selected for interviews with faculty at one or more of the participating universities. From the interviewed finalists, the Foundation will select up to 9 Scholars distributed across the three disciplines - approximately 3 economists, 3 political scientists, and 3 sociologists per Scholar cohort.

When will you let me know if I've been selected or not?
Finalists will be notified by mid-December about interviews in January. Offers will be extended in February.

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Other Questions

  • Are you the same as the RWJF Health & Society Scholars Program?
  • How is the RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program different from the Health and Society Scholars Program, and can I apply to both?
  • Can I focus on international topics while I am a scholar?
  • Are Scholars required to reside at the sites for the full two years?
  • In addition to the Scholar stipend, what benefits do Scholars receive?
  • How might the program affect my career path and career choices?

Are you the same as the RWJF Health & Society Scholars Program?
No. The RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program and the RWJF Health and Society Scholars Program are two separate fellowship programs of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Information about the RWJF Health and Society Scholars Program is available on its web site: http://www.healthandsocietyscholars.org

How is the RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program different from the RWJF Health and Society Scholars Program, and can I apply to both?
The RWJF Health and Society Scholars Program (HSS) is also a post-doctoral program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The HSS Program is a training program for researchers interested in and committed to building the field of population health. The RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program (SHPR) is intended to develop a new generation of creative health policy thinkers and researchers from the disciplines of economics, political science and sociology.

The two programs are different in several ways, and we suggest you review the Call for Applications for both programs as well as contact the National Program Offices to answer any questions.

For more information about the SHPR Program, please contact:
Phone: 617-353-9220, email: rwjf@bu.edu

For more information about the HSS Program please contact:
Phone: 212-419-3566, email: hss@nyam.org

If you meet the eligibility requirements of both programs, you may apply to both. If you are selected as a finalist by both programs, you will be notified in December and, at that time, you will need to decide between the two programs. Candidates will be allowed to interview for only one program.

Can I focus on international health topics while I am a Scholar?
The Program’s stated focus is on U.S. health policy.  Comparative analyses of the U.S. with other nation’s health care systems can be valuable, and the Program does allow such work to be conducted on occasion, but only with the approval of the relevant site director and the national program office.

Are Scholars required to reside at the sites for the full two years?
Generally, yes. We believe residency is critical to fostering a sense of community and to facilitating cross learning and interdisciplinary research. On occasion, a Scholar's research requires field work and thus some time is needed off site. Such details are worked out with the site directors. In addition, there have been a few Scholars who have arranged with future employers to start their new job after 18 months in the Program (typically, the second semester of the second year). Such arrangements must be negotiated (in writing) with approval from the National Program Office, the Program site, and the prospective employer prior to entering the Program.

In addition to the Scholar stipend, what benefits do Scholars receive?
Scholars have access to the full range of university resources, such as faculty, libraries, and computers. In addition, they receive office space, administrative staff support, a research budget, travel support, access to health insurance, and a moving allowance.

How might the program affect my career path and career choices?
Each Scholar has a unique experience in the program depending on his/her background and interests. However, our alumni agree that the Program has effected their careers in ways that are positive, reinforcing and intellectually stimulating. Many have found that new doors have been opened and that unforeseen insights and experiences have helped shape their careers and intellectual life inside their own disciplines. To read some of their stories in their own words follow this link.

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