IDRC Doctoral Research Awards

International Development Research Centre

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Grant amount: Up to C $20,000

Anticipated deadline: May 23, 2020 1:00pm PDT

Applicant type: PhD Student

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Bangladesh; Belize Show all

Location of residency: Canada

Location of citizenship: Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Bangladesh; Belize Show all

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

Thematic Priorities

IDRC Doctoral Research Awards support research aligned with IDRC’s mandate and thematic priorities. Proposed research must fit within the priorities of the Agriculture and Environment, Inclusive Economies, or Technology and Innovation program areas as set out in this document.

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 in all its forms; chronic and infectious diseases; and risks to lives and livelihoods due to a changing climate. Agriculture and Environment increasingly supports research that is gender transformative, and gender is a key dimension throughout all of its programming. 

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; developing better and more affordable livestock vaccines; reducing the emerging risk of antimicrobial resistance in animals, and; improved financial services for farmers and agricultural businesses.
  • Climate change research to: generate knowledge and create capacities to provide vulnerable communities with adaption solutions that contribute to human security and equity, promote climate action, and improve governance. This research focuses on identifying opportunities and removing barriers to the application, scaling, and financing of these solutions in urban and rural areas of the Global South. 
  • Food systems research for sustainable, healthy diets; research to provide economic rationale for structural and policy interventions for food and tobacco-related chronic disease prevention, and; preventing and reducing the risk of disease from pandemics and emerging infectious diseases.

Inclusive Economies

The Inclusive Economies thematic area supports policy and implementation research to promote sustainable and equitable growth, democratic governance systems that can respond to challenges of crime, corruption, and violence, and improvements in the health of the world’s mothers and children. The research we support aims at transformative change in gender inequalities, and we increasingly focus our work on countries with the lowest capacity for development policy, and on West Africa.

More specifically, Inclusive Economies supports:

  • Research on enhancing the economic opportunities of marginalized groups, on enhancing women’s economic empowerment, expanding economic opportunities for young people, and mobilizing the private sector to support development.
  • Research on creating safer communities free from insecurity and violent conflict; empowering women and girls to prevent and overcome gender violence; and improving access to effective and responsive justice for vulnerable populations. 
  • 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 health information systems to contribute to better decision-making and better targeting of resources to needs.

The research we support directly supports policymakers and civil society and community organizations. Inclusive Economies supports vibrant public policy debates generated by local, independent organizations. We support 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, and strengthen monitoring and evaluation.

Technology and Innovation

The Technology and Innovation program area leverages science and advanced technologies to drive innovation and sustainable growth in developing countries. Technology and Innovation increasingly supports research that is gender transformative, and throughout all of its programming, gender is a key dimension. 

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, excluding countries in Southern and Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia (but including Afghanistan).
    • 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 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. Applications proposing field research outside these thematic areas will not be considered.
    • 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.
  • Other eligibility requirements include:
    • If you are selected for an award, you have up to 12 months to start your field research from the date of the final selection.
    • You must plan to spend a minimum of 10 consecutive weeks in the field when your research involves one or more countries in one region.
      • he regions are: Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Far East Asia, Caribbean, Central America, South America, Oceania.
    • When your research involves more than one region, you must plan to spend a minimum of 5 consecutive weeks in the field in each region.
    • The maximum time for which research costs can be covered under this award is 12 months in the field; if you plan to stay longer, you must cover additional costs from another source of funding.
    • It will be your responsibility to ensure that you follow all Government of Canada travel advisories while applying, when planning your trip, and while in the field. IDRC will not approve travel to a region for which there is an advisory that all travel should be avoided. If you are selected and the advisory changes, you will still be required to follow it even after a contract is signed.



  • You may not be in receipt of two or more active IDRC awards at the same time. No time overlaps will be permitted.
  • 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 and regions:
    • Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Southern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Caucasus.