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PhD Scholarship in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

Application information for the Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme

The Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) was launched in 2004 and has so far supported more than 200 PhD students from more than 18 countries and 51 institutions.

Each year, PhD supervisors from academic institutions in EMEA are invited to submit their proposals for collaborative research projects with Microsoft Research Cambridge. Applications are then peer reviewed and approximately 20 projects are selected for funding. PhD students are appointed to the selected projects and begin their research in the following academic year under the supervision of their academic supervisor, with co-supervision from a researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge.

This page outlines the application process for this year's programme and provides answers to relevant questions regarding eligibility, application, and selection.

Schedule

Important dates for the application process

  • Online application tool opens: 1 September 2015
  • Application deadline: 25 September 2015 (17:00 GMT)
  • Notification of results:
    • Stage 1: October 2015
    • Stage 2: December 2015

Deadlines for successful applicants

  • PhD agreements will be sent to institutes by: 30 January 2016
  • Signed PhD agreements must be returned to Microsoft Research by: 30 June 2016
  • PhD students must be appointed by: 31 March 2017

Eligibility criteria

Only PhD supervisors should apply. If their project is selected, the supervisor has until 31 March 2017 to find the best possible student for the project; otherwise, the PhD Agreement will be terminated automatically. Only applications from institutions in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will be considered.

For an application to be considered, the following key requirements apply:

  1. The institute agrees to the terms and conditions in the MRL Term Sheet.
  2. The applicant must be in dialogue with the prospective Microsoft supervisor prior to the submission deadline and jointly drafting the proposal.
  3. The proposed research must be closely related to the following research topics carried out at Microsoft Research in Cambridge.

Application process

Applications are on a competitive basis and we anticipate a high level of demand for scholarships (the average selection rate is approximately 20 percent).

Applications must be submitted by academic institutions, such as from a PhD supervisor or departmental secretary. We do not accept applications from students directly.

  • Applications should contain the following:
    • A completed online application form that includes contact details of the main supervisor together with a named secondary supervisor who will be willing to take the project on if the main named supervisor leaves.
    • Names of possible reviewers—ideally, one of the suggested reviewers should be from Microsoft Research. If no suitable Microsoft researcher can be identified, it may mean that the proposed research project is too far from our areas of interest.
    • A project proposal of maximum six (6) A4 pages in 10-point font, including references.
      Accepted formats: plain text (.txt), .pdf, or Microsoft Office Word (.doc or .docx) only.
  • The research project proposal should address the following points:
    • Evidence that the research supervisor would be suitable to supervise a PhD student for the proposed research project.
      This may include a short list of the supervisor's recent and relevant publications. Please consider including the URLs of the publications to make it easier for reviewers to find them.
    • Evidence that the department or laboratory offers a suitable environment for research in the proposed area.
    • Basis for the research (motivations and brief state-of-the-art, including key references).
    • Hypothesis under investigation and main aims.
    • Research strategy with significant milestones if identified.
    • Methods of research (for example, main techniques, experiments, and trials).
    • Details of any collaboration with other departments/research bodies.
    • Expected outcomes (for example, software tools).

Applications must be complete, submitted online, and received by the announced deadline to be considered. Proposals received after this deadline will not be considered.

Selection process

A two-stage evaluation process will be implemented for all eligible applications.

  • Stage 1: A panel of Microsoft researchers determines whether an application meets the basic selection criteria and goes through to stage 2. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in October 2014, but will not receive detailed feedback.
  • Stage 2: Applications are sent for comprehensive review to at least three Microsoft internal or external reviewers. Ranking depends on review feedback. Other factors, such as relevance to Microsoft research topics, are taken into account for the selection of approximately 20 applications. Detailed feedback will be given to all stage 2 proposals.

Decisions are made solely at the discretion of Microsoft Research and all decisions are final.

Applicants (PhD supervisors) have until 31 March 2017 to propose the best and most suitable student possible to carry out the proposed research project.

Funding

Each Microsoft scholarship consists of an annual bursary up to a maximum of three years. The monetary value of the award varies by country to reflect local differences in costs and overheads. Payment is made directly to the institution. The amount of the scholarship is the maximum amount Microsoft Research pays to the institution. In addition, every Scholar receives a fixed hardware allowance and conference allowance.

By applying, the PI and university or research institute is willing to accept the MRL Term Sheet as the basis for the scholarship.

Microsoft has a pool of CASE awards that may apply. In these circumstances, EPSRC terms and conditions will apply.

During the course of their PhD, Scholars are invited to Microsoft Research in Cambridge for a PhD Summer School that includes a series of talks of academic interest and posters sessions, which provides the Scholars the opportunity to present their work to Microsoft researchers and a number of Cambridge academics.

Some of the Scholars may also be offered—at the sole discretion of Microsoft Research—an internship in one of the Microsoft Research laboratories. Internships involve working on a project alongside and as part of a team of Microsoft researchers. Scholars are paid during their internship—in addition to their scholarship bursary. Interested Scholars can apply through the Microsoft Research internship website.

Note: All intellectual property rights associated with funded PhD projects are subject to the terms and conditions in the MRL Term Sheet.

Privacy statement

The information provided in the application is used for making our decision for the Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship only. We may pass this information to external academic reviewers who have agreed to help us review the applications. All information contained in the application shall be considered by Microsoft to be non-confidential. Universities should not submit information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive in any way and Microsoft assumes no responsibility for protecting or disclosing any such information, once submitted. Microsoft is committed to protecting your privacy.