IDRC Doctoral Research Awards

International Development Research Centre

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Grant amount: Up to C $20,000

Anticipated deadline: May 30, 2019 1:00pm PDT

Applicant type: PhD Student

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Algeria; Angola; Argentina; Bangladesh; Belize Expand all

Location of residency: Canada

Location of citizenship: Algeria; Angola; Argentina; Bangladesh; Belize Expand all

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IDRC offers these awards to Canadians, permanent residents of Canada, and citizens of developing countries pursuing doctoral studies at a Canadian university. These awards are intended for field research in one or more developing countries. Candidates must conduct their research in areas corresponding to the IDRC thematic priorities.

Since 1982, IDRC has helped graduate students undertake thesis research in the field of international development. IDRC Doctoral Research Awards are intended to promote the growth of Canadian and developing country capacity in research to improve the lives of people in the developing world.

Thematic Priorities

Agriculture and Environment

The Agriculture and Environment program area delivers evidence-based innovations in agriculture, climate change, and health sectors to solve issues such as poor agricultural productivity; food insecurity and malnutrition; chronic and infectious diseases; and, risks to lives and livelihoods from a changing climate. More specifically, Agriculture and Environment supports:

  • Agriculture and food security research on:
    • efficient and sustainable agricultural production, focusing on topics such as secondary crops, fruits and vegetables, and high value animal products to enhance both income and nutrition;
    • improved market access and agricultural value chains for small-holder farmers;
    • improved and affordable livestock vaccines; and,
    • improved financial services for farmers and agricultural businesses.
  • Climate change research to:
    • generate cost-effective solutions and smart use of technology that lead to short-term social and economic gains and guard against climate impacts in the future; generate new knowledge and inform policy in climate change vulnerability hotspots;
    • increase climate resilience of small and medium cities; and,
    • facilitate climate adaptation finance, particularly from private sources.
  • Food systems and health research for:
    • improved health and healthier food systems;
    • prevention of emerging infectious and chronic diseases focussed on food-related chronic illnesses (such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease);
    • prevention and reduction of disease risks from pandemics, emerging infectious diseases, and disease risk linked to tobacco.

Candidates applying for the IDRC Doctoral Research Awards 2018 call, and indicating their area of work as related to the IDRC theme of Agriculture and Environment, will automatically be considered for the Bentley Research Fellowship (learn more here). There will be no need to indicate interest; the top candidates in this area will automatically be considered for this fellowship, which is of the same value and has the same parameters as the IDRAs.

Inclusive Economies

The Inclusive Economies thematic area invests in the efforts of public and private sector actors to establish more dynamic economies with decent work opportunities for the poor; democratic governance systems that can respond to challenges of crime, corruption and violence; vibrant public policy debates generated by local, independent organizations; and improvements in the health of the world’s mothers and children. More specifically, Inclusive Economies supports:

  • Research on enhancing the economic opportunities of marginalized groups.This focuses in particular on:
    • strengthening women’s economic empowerment;
    • supporting policy and practice to expand economic opportunities for young people; and
    • enhancing private sector development impact, including through innovative forms of collaboration between private and public sectors.
  • Research on:
    • creating safer communities free from insecurity and violent conflict, including more secure and inclusive cities;
    • empowering women and girls to prevent and overcome gender violence; and
    • improving access to effective and responsive justice for vulnerable populations.
    • A focus is on context-specific research that connects to broader regional and international efforts in order to achieve greater impact.
  • Research on organizational development of developing country think tanks and policy research organizations, in particular ways in which they can:
    • strengthen their policy outreach and impact,
    • enhance research quality and relevance,
    • develop sustainable business models including resource mobilization, and
    • strengthen learning and accountability through better monitoring and evaluation.
  • Research on innovations for improving maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health by strengthening health systems that are the first and most important point of contact for the most vulnerable, and strengthening of health information systems to contribute to better decision-making and better targeting of resources to needs.

Technology and Innovation

The Technology and Innovation program area leverages science and advanced technologies to drive innovation and sustainable growth in developing countries. More specifically, Technology and Innovation:

  • works to build the human and organizational capital needed to support innovation and economic growth in developing countries, through programs that encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills and leadership development, as well as institutional strengthening; and
  • Supports research on networked economies, digital and data driven innovations by entrepreneurs, the incorporation of digital skills into education curriculums, and policies that enable people to benefit from disruptive technologies and innovations.
    • A focus is building a knowledge base around digital technologies and leveraging them to improve democracy, accelerate science, improve education, and foster economic growth

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

    • You must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or a citizen of a developing country.
    • You must be enrolled at a Canadian university at the doctoral level (when you submit your application, you must have completed several courses of the doctoral program, but not necessarily all of the courses).
    • Your research proposal must be approved by your thesis supervisor. Please provide proof.
    • Your proposed field research must take place in one or more developing countries and be conducted for a doctoral dissertation.
    • Your field research must correspond to IDRC thematic priorities
    • You must provide evidence of affiliation with an institution or organization in the developing region(s) in which the research will take place.
    • You must have completed coursework and passed comprehensive exams before taking up the award.



  • Applications proposing field research outside the thematic areas will not be considered.
  • You may not be in receipt of two or more active IDRC awards at the same time. No time overlaps will be permitted.
  • You are not eligible for this award if you intend to use this award only to analyze or disseminate final results, finalize videos, or spend time in a lab.
  • The award does not cover any expenses related to your relatives, spouse, or children under any circumstances.
  • In principle, IDRC supports research in all developing countries. At this time, however, we do not offer awards for research that involves the following countries:
    • Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Micronesia, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Southern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and South Caucasus, and some small island states, including Comoros, São Tomé and Principe, Saint Helena, Timor-Leste, and Oceania (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis & Futuna).