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Apply for the Microsoft Research Asia PhD Fellowship

About the Microsoft Research Asia PhD Fellowship

The Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Program identifies the next generation of research leaders through a unique program that offers a combination of mentorship, research, networking, and academic opportunities to promising young candidates. Since its inception in 1999, 384 outstanding PhD students have been awarded the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship honor. Fellows have gone on to become prominent researchers and influential individuals in academia and industry.

Each year, roughly 10 of the most outstanding doctoral students out of hundreds of candidates are recognized as Microsoft Research Asia fellows. Fellows earn more than a simple scholarship; they enjoy long-term close engagement with Microsoft Research Asia, one of the leading computer science research labs in the world. Read some of the feedback from previous recipients of the fellowship.

2016 application and award schedule

  • Online submission deadline: June 25, 2016.

  • Selected applicants will receive notification of their acceptance status by no later than October 15, 2016. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research Asia cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not result in fellowship awards.

Provisions of the award

The Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Program offers some of the industry’s most competitive incentives and rewards, including:

  • Cash awards of $10,000 USD, which can be used to support research initiatives and academic endeavors including, but not limited to: attending international research conferences/events, and subsidizing paper and patent application fees.
  • Guaranteed, but not required, three-month internship at Microsoft Research Asia.
  • Opportunity for intensive and individualized mentorship programs with a dedicated senior researcher, to help facilitate the fellow's research until graduation.
  • Opportunity to attend the Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum, an elite, selective, limited-seating event for top senior PhD students from around the world.
  • Opportunity to attend the 17th Computing in the 21st Century Conference—one of the most prestigious academic conferences in computer science in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • At the discretion of Microsoft Research Asia, advisors of fellows might be invited to participate in collaborative research projects and academic exchange events.

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants must attend a university in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, or Taiwan; and be enrolled in the computer science, electrical engineering, automation, or mathematics department. (Note: if your department is within the scope of these areas, but is titled differently, you are eligible.)
  • Applicants for the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship Program must be nominated by their universities, and their nominations must be confirmed by the office of the chair of the eligible department.
  • According to the definition of the normative period of PhD program of the nominees’ university and region, the nominee must still be in eligible PhD program until spring semester of 2018. The applicants and their departments would be asked for supporting documents if needed.
  • Multiple applicants from one supervisor will not be considered for acceptance.
  • Special cases might be considered at the discretion of the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship committee.
  • Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Committee owns the final interpretation of above clauses.

How to apply

  • Application materials shall include:
      • Nominee’s application form: Download the application form template.
      • Nominee's curriculum vitae.
      • At least two letters of reference from established researchers familiar with the nominee’s research. Of these, one letter should come from the student's advisor. Scanned copies of the signed recommendation letters should be sent directly to
      • Either a video or PowerPoint presentation with an audio introduction (Office Mix is recommended). The video or presentation must be a maximum of 20 minutes and include a statement of purpose; previous, on-going, and future projects; research interests and accomplishments; and other relevant information.
      • Transcripts with academic grades for PhD, masters and bachelors study.
      • Research papers (if candidate has published papers).
      • Research plan (please include your research plan in the application form).
  • Applications must be submitted via the online application tool in one of the following formats: Word document, zip, PDF, or text-only file (if your materials exceed 10 MB, please put your video or presentation with audio online and share the link in a text-only file). Nominees can submit materials directly.
  • The information provided in the application is used for making our decision for the Microsoft Research Asia PhD Fellowship only. Applications submitted to Microsoft will not be returned. Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information in submitted applications. Therefore, applications should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Microsoft reserves the right to make public information from applications that receive awards, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.
    • Selection process

      All applications from invited institutions will be reviewed by the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship Committee, which is composed of senior lab researchers and managers. Onsite interviews with Microsoft Research Asia researchers may be arranged if needed.

      Frequently asked questions

      Who should submit the applications?
      Required application materials can be submitted directly online by the nominees confirmed by eligible departments of eligible universities.

      In what language and format must the application materials be?
      All application materials must be in English.
      All documents submitted must be in Word document, .zip, PDF, or text-only file format. Please put your video or presentation with audio online and share the link in a text-only file if your materials exceed 10 MB.

      Students from which areas of computer science are encouraged to apply?
      Students from all related areas of computer science will be accepted and encouraged to apply.
      Particularly, we encourage students from those three tracks:

      • Perception, Recognition, and Interaction: for example, graphics, vision, multimedia, speech, etc.
      • Human and Machine Intelligence: for example, machine learning, social network, natural language processing, theory, knowledge mining, etc.
      • Hardware and Software Systems: for example, systems, software analytics, networking, mobile sensing, applied algorithms, device, etc.

      Are first-year students eligible to apply?
      First-year students are eligible to apply if they have already enrolled in a PhD program by the time of the nomination.

      Are second-year students eligible to apply?
      It depends on the expected graduate date of the normative PhD study you are enrolled in. If the student will be in university until the spring semester of 2018, then she or he is eligible.

      When will the review results be announced?
      Selected applicants will receive notification of their acceptance status by no later than October 15, 2016. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research Asia cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive fellowship awards.

      If selected, when can I come to Microsoft Research Asia for internship?
      A three-month internship at Microsoft Research Asia is guaranteed, and you may request to come for internship at any time before your PhD graduation. Besides working with experienced mentors, an internship at Microsoft Research Asia allows fellows to present to and discuss with diverse and excellent researchers, which will help them expand their horizons and provide experience in large international corporations. To date, over 200 fellows have interned. For more information about internship opportunities at Microsoft Research Asia, please visit Asia-Pacific Internship Program.

      What are the intellectual property implications of a Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship?
      The funds are given as an unrestricted gift. Fellowship recipients are not subject to intellectual property restrictions unless they complete an internship at Microsoft Research Asia. If that is the case, they are subject to the same intellectual property restrictions as any other Microsoft Research Asia intern.

      Are students from other countries or regions eligible?
      Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship only accepts applicants with universities in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan.

      If you are not enrolled in a university in the above countries or regions, please look for other Microsoft fellowship opportunities here:


      Please send email directly to for other questions about this program.