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Apply for the UNESCO and OWSD Ph.D. Fellowships for women in science and technology 2020/2021

Brief Description

The programme is administered with funds generously provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and is offered in partnership with host institutes throughout the developing world.

The general purpose of the fellowship programme is to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of women leaders in science and technology, and to promote their effective participation in the scientific and technological development of their countries.

The specific aims of the fellowship programme are:

To improve access to educational and training opportunities in science and technology for young and talented women graduates from STLCs.To increase the scientific productivity and creativity of women scientists in STLCs.To empower a new generation of talented women to assume a leadership role in science and technology.To encourage women scientists to contribute to the sustainable development of their home countries.To enable women scientists from the South to collaborate and network on a regional and international level.


Candidates can choose between two study schemes:

a full-time fellowship (maximum 4 years funding), where the research is undertaken entirely at a host institute in another developing country in the South.a sandwich fellowship, where the candidate must be a registered PhD student in her home country and undertakes part of her studies at a host institute in another developing country. The sandwich fellowship is awarded for a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 research visits at the host institute. The minimum duration of the first visit is 6 months. The total number of months spent at the host institute cannot exceed 20 months. The funding period cannot exceed 4 years. OWSD particularly encourages candidates to consider the sandwich option, which allows them to earn the PhD in their home country while accessing specialist researchers and equipment abroad, at the host institute.

The fellowship support is only provided while the student is on-site, at the host institute.

The OWSD fellowship covers:

A monthly allowance to cover basic living expenses such as accommodation and meals while in the host country

A special allowance to attend international conferences during the period of the fellowship

A return ticket from the home country to the host institute for the agreed research period

Visa expensesAnnual medical insurance contribution

The opportunity to attend regional science communications workshops, on a competitive basis Study fees (including tuition and registration fees) in agreement with the chosen host institute which is also expected to contribute


The OWSD Ph.D. Fellowship is offered only to women candidates.

1. Candidates must confirm that they intend to return to their home country as soon as possible after completion of the fellowship.

2. Eligible countries

The list of eligible countries is also available here.


Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (Kingdom of), Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Arab region

Djibouti, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip), Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen

Asia & the Pacific

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People’s Dem Rep., Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Latin America & the Caribbean

Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay

Formerly, OWSD had a list of eligible countries which included all LDCs and any additional countries in sub-Saharan Africa. With this new list, effective for any fellowship from 2017 onward, some countries in Africa (including Nigeria) are no longer considered low income and are therefore no longer eligible for fellowships support. Some new countries outside Africa have been added.

The immediate effect is that OWSD Fellowships will now be open to applicants from 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) identified by the United Nations, plus 19 countries selected because of their low income levels and specific needs for support in building research capacity. 

We will do our best to work with those countries that are no longer on the list to see if we can provide partnership funding for fellowships in the future.

Agricultural SciencesAstronomy, Space and Earth SciencesBiological Systems and OrganismsChemical SciencesComputing and Information TechnologyEngineering SciencesMathematical SciencesMedical and Health SciencesNeurosciencesPhysicsStructural, Cell and Molecular Biology

The OWSD PhD Fellowships are granted for PhD studies in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Applications for PhD studies in the Social sciences, Humanities, Arts, or other are NOT eligible.

4. Eligible academic qualification

The minimum qualification is an MSc degree in one of the above listed study fields.

5. Eligible host institutes

Host institutes must be located in a developing country in the South (not the candidate's home country).A list of recommended institutes is available here.Other institutes, not included in the link above, will also be considered if they demonstrate appropriate resources and expertise.Candidates should identify a host institute outside their home country. They can identify a further two host institutes if desired.Candidates who are already on site in the host country will not usually be considered eligible.

An applicant, at the time of application, must NOT have an active research grant or fellowship with The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) or have already submitted an application for a TWAS programme within the same given year. Only one application per year is possible across all TWAS and OWSD programmes. An exception is made only for the head of an institution who invites an external scholar to share his/her expertise under the TWAS Visiting Professor programmes; she may still apply for another programme.

For more information, click here


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