The Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program 2019

Photo: World Bank


The Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program (RSMFP) provides support to developing country citizens who are current PhD candidates studying in developing countries, funding up to $25,000 to conduct PhD research on a development topic in a World Bank member country other than the Fellow's home country or country of residence.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the most promising developing nation researchers to advance their doctoral work with the best international advisors and host institutions in their fields of study.

The call for RSMFP fellowship applications from PhD candidates is now open until the application deadline of May 2, 2019.

RSMFP was established in 1982 with $2.8 million in funding from the World Bank and the governments of Bangladesh, China, India, Kuwait, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, and former Yugoslavia.

What are the RSMFP Benefits?

RSMFP provides up to $25,000 (U.S.) for developing country nationals to travel abroad to conduct development-related PhD research under the supervision of a host advisor at a university, research or development institution in a World Bank member country. The Scholarship covers a 6 to 10 month period. Details on eligible expenditures are provided in the Application Guidelines.

What is the Selection Process?

The RSMFP uses the following process to review completed applications, with the aim to identify eligible candidates with the most innovative and relevant research proposals in the area of development.

Two qualified reviewers independently review each eligible application to assess the following:

  1. Quality of the proposed fellowship (70%)
  2. Prospects for a productive career in research on development post-PhD (30%)

Information provided by your PhD thesis supervisor and your host institution research advisor are particularly important elements of your application.

The World Bank Robert S. McNamara Secretariat uses the average score of the two reviewers and the following other aspects to select the finalists:

  • Maintaining a reasonably wide geographical distribution of awards;
  • Maintaining a reasonable distribution of awards across gender;
  • Giving fellowships to those applicants who, other things equal, appear to have limited financial resources;
  • Giving preference to applicants currently employed as lecturers or researchers at an academic or research institution in a member developing country of the World Bank;
  • Giving preference to applicants who have not received a JJ/WBGSP scholarship for a master’s degree program.

The finalists are presented to the World Bank Robert S. McNamara Steering Committee (composed of some members of the World Bank Board of Directors and WB management) for final review and selection of the winners of the award. The RSMFP Secretariat notifies the public on this website that the selection is made and individually informs the winners of the Fellowship.

Learn how to apply on the World bank website.

Eligible countries:

Afghanistan,Albania,Algeria,Angola,Antigua and Barbuda,Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Rep., Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Rep. of Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Rep., Ecuador, Arab Rep Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, The Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Republic of Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao People's D.R., Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, FYR of Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, F.S. Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St.Vincent & the Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Rep. Bol. de Venezuela, Vietnam, Republic of Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Other.

Development topics:


  • Financial Stability & Integrity
  • Financial Inclusion & Access
  • Firms, Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • Markets, Technology & Digital Economy
  • Long-Term Finance
  • Climate & Risk Management
  • Gender Nexus with Ownership and Control of Assets- including:
    • land
    • housing
    • financial services / inclusion
    • access to finance and lending to women-owned SMEs


  • Strengthening Public Policy Processes
  • Promoting Effective Resource Management
  • Reinforcing Public Service Delivery
  • Strengthening the Public-Private Interface
  • Understanding the Underlying Drivers and Enablers of Policy Effectiveness
  • Nexus with Gender


  • Designing and applying country-based diagnostics, development strategies, policy analysis and other analytical products for decision-making by Ministries of Finance, Trade, Economy and Production in their pursuit of reform agendas conducive to strengthening inclusive growth led by the private sector
  • Nexus with Gender


  • Identifying key constraints that limit opportunities for productive employment, capital accumulation and investment in human capital by the poor and vulnerable households.
  • Using data on poverty, equity and welfare for evidence-based public policy making and implementation
  • Designing and implementing fiscal and social policies that can enhance the capacity of those at the bottom to contribute more actively to economic growth
  • Developing and adopting effective risk management strategies and systems that contribute to sustainable poverty reduction and shared prosperity
  • Nexus with Gender


  • For primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education: devise practical solutions for issues related to design of curricula, curriculum reform, instruction and pedagogy, and learning/measurement of learning and learning outcomes
  • Organize, strengthen and manage an education system, and the delivery of services
  • Examining and devising options for improvements to quality assurance mechanisms in primary, secondary, and tertiary education
  • Designing and implementing cost‐effective and sustainable Early Childhood Development interventions
  • Designing and implementing skills‐driven education, particularly for the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector
  • Managing and developing an effective teacher workforce
  • Designing and applying emerging innovations in the education sector, including but not limited to those enabled by the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs)
  • Designing and implementing reforms aimed at improving the effectiveness, equity, and efficiency of country education financing systems
  • Designing and implementing reforms aimed at issues of access related to disability and/or Inclusive Education
  • Developing new ideas and mechanisms for engaging the private sector and labor market in reforms to curriculum and qualifications frameworks for all levels of education
  • Nexus with Gender  


  • Health Sector
  • Education Sector
  • Social Protection
  • Employment
  • Ownership and Control of Assets
  • Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Enhancing Women’s Voice and Agency and Engaging Men and Boys
  • Gender-Based Violence


  • Health Financing
  • Public/Global Health
  • Nutrition
  • Population and Development
  • Delivery of Health, Nutrition and Population services work for the poor
  • Nexus with Gender


  • Skills Development
  • Social Insurance and Pension
  • Social Safety Nets
  • Nexus with Gender
  • Social Safety Net Programs’ Delivery Systems


  • Climate Smart Agriculture
  • Food Quality
  • Rural Livelihoods and Agriculture Employment
  • Value Chains and Agribusiness competitiveness and commercialization.
  • Gender Nexus


  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Climate-smart Land Use, Water and Food Security
  • Finance
  • Small Island States Resilience initiatives 
  • Nexus with migration/conflict


  • Environmental Economics
  • Pollution Management and Environmental Health
  • Environmental Standards
  • Fisheries
  • Forests, Landscapes and Ecosystems
  • Watersheds


  • Community-Driven Development
  • City Management, Governance and Finance
  • Land / GeoSpatial
  • Disaster Risk Management
  • Social Inclusion
  • Social Sustainability and Standards
  • Labor Influx and Labor Management
  • Stability, Peace and Security
  • Sustainable Urban Infrastructure and Services
  • Territorial Development and Productivity
  • Urban Poverty and Housing


  • Hydropower & Dams
  • Water in Agriculture
  • Urban Water Supply and Sanitation services delivery
  • Rural Water Supply and Sanitation services delivery
  • Water Security and Integrated Resource Management
  • Water, Poverty and the Economy – policies, institutions, and governance – related to the role of water in an economy.
  • Social Inclusion in Water.
  • Nexus with Gender Issues


  • Clean Energy
  • Energy Access
  • Energy Economics, Markets and Institutions
  • Extractives Industries
  • Hydropower & Dams
  • Power Systems


  • Infrastructure Management & Finance, including Public Private Partnerships & Guarantees
  • Development Corridors & Regional Integration
  • Roads
  • Air Transport
  • Railways
  • Transport & Digital Development
  • Urban Transport
  • Resilient Transport in context of Disaster Risk management 


  • Gender Nexus
  • Development-Security Nexus
  • Humanitarian-Development Nexus
  • Design and implementation of development projects in FCV
  • Innovative financing mechanisms 
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