The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program ended February 2017. The site will no longer be updated. More »



1. What is the timeframe from applying to entering the program?

Applications and references must be submitted online by September 20, 2013 (5 p.m. ET). All applications will be screened and reviewed by the National Program Office (NPO), the National Advisory Committee (NAC) and the participating universities during October and November 2013. Approximately 50 finalists will be selected in mid-December 2013 and interviews will occur in January 2014. Up to 12 scholars will be selected and notification to all finalists will occur (on a staggered basis) in mid to late February 2014. Scholars will enter the program in September 2014.

2. How do I get an application for the program?

You may only apply through our online system, which will be available through the  program's Web site beginning July 17, 2013. Instructions on how to apply through the online system will be available with the application information. 

3. Why are there only four (4) sites accepting scholars for Cohort 12 (2014-2016)?

For the first ten years, the RWJF Health & Society Scholars (HSS) program had been conducted at six prestigious universities who are at the forefront of population health science.  However, the Program recently changed to a four site configuration as part of a process initiated in response to the 2008 economic downturn, which required a reduction of expenditures across all of the Foundation’s programming.  As a result, The University of Michigan and The University of Pennsylvania will no longer be accepting new scholars beyond those already selected for Cohort 9 (2011-2013) and Cohort 10 (2012-2014).  Both sites have brought exceptional and unique strengths to the HSS program and their contributions have enriched our community and the field of population health.

4. Can I contact the program sites to find out more about the program?

Yes. Please contact the program site coordinator at any of the four participating universities

5. Who is eligible for the program?

Outstanding individuals who have completed their doctoral training in one of a variety of fields including, but not limited to, behavioral and social sciences, biological and natural sciences, health professions (e.g., M.D.s, nurses with Ph.D.s), public policy, public health, history and others (e.g., J.D.s, communications and urban planning) are eligible, regardless of the number of years since receiving their doctorate. Applicants must be citizens or permanent resident green card holders of the United States or its territories at the time of application to the program. All requirements for your doctorate (including the award of your doctoral degree or letter of completion from your registrar’s office) must be completed by the time of entry into the program (September 2014). Applicants should already have significant research experience. 

Additionally, applicants cannot be related by blood or marriage to any Officer* or Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson. *The Officers are the Chairman of the Board of Trustees; President and CEO; Chief of Staff; General Counsel; Secretary; Assistant Secretary; Treasurer; and Assistant Treasurer of the Foundation.

Staff members of The New York Academy of Medicine (the National Program Office for the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program) are not eligible to apply for the Program.

6. What is considered "significant research experience" in the eligibility criteria for the HSS program?

What is judged “significant” depends on the applicant’s background and goals.  The program provides the opportunity to expand knowledge of research methods and approaches, but applicants must have established a foundation in research relevant to their future goals.  Additionally, their plans for acquiring new skills must be feasible within a two-year fellowship.  It is recognized that research training may be more limited for applicants with clinical backgrounds.  However, even these applicants are required to meet the following two criteria:

  • Experience with the design and implementation of a research project and the development of papers and reports discussing research findings.
  • Familiarity with a range of quantitative and/or qualitative research methods and demonstrated skill in one or more.

The following are examples of applicants who were able to succeed as HSS scholars:  

  • Medical Doctor – Had worked in health policy as a medical resident, conducting literature reviews and  gaining experience with survey design, data collection and analysis in a small study.  In a subsequent masters program, learned to do secondary analysis of large datasets and participated in a team study using qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Clinical Psychologist –Had participated in two or three qualitative studies, gaining experience in designing and conducting the research and analyzing qualitative data.  Had also taken coursework in quantitative methods (e.g., regression, ANOVA, multidimensional scaling, cluster analysis) and was beginning to use these methods in research projects at the time of application.
  • Lab Researcher – Had worked on the role of gene expression in social behavior in a range of animal models, both rodent and primate.  Had significant experience in planning and implementing laboratory experiments, statistical methods used in animal-based research, and laboratory methods used in genetic and biological research (e.g., recombinant DNA technology, assays to determine DNA presence and quantity, cell culture, transgenic animal creation).
  • Quantitative Researcher – Had participated as a research assistant in conducting literature reviews, analyzing quantitative data, survey design, and manuscript preparation and had served as a teaching assistant in a course on quantitative methods.  Had conducted secondary data analysis of a large national survey in dissertation research and was familiar with a broad range of advanced statistical methods.

7. How is the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Research Program different from the Health & Society Scholars program and can I apply to both?

The Scholars in Health Policy Research Program (SHPR) also is a post-doctoral program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. If you have a Ph.D. in sociology, economics, or political science, you may be eligible for the Scholars in Health Policy Research Program. The two programs are different in many ways and we suggest you review the Call for Applications for both programs as well as contact the national program offices and site directors at each of the program’s participating universities to answer any questions.

For more information about the Health & Society Scholars program please contact:
Phone: (212) 419-3566

For more information about the Scholars in Health Policy Research Program, please contact:
Catherine Player
Phone: (617) 353-9214
Web site:
(This will open in a new browser window.)

If you meet the eligibility requirements of both programs, you may apply to both. If you are selected as a finalist by both programs, you will be notified in December and at that time will need to decide between the two programs. 

8. If I am currently a doctoral student, post-doc, or faculty member at one of the participating universities, can I stay at that institution as a Health & Society Scholar?

Scholars, as a rule, will not be placed at sites where they have worked or received training within the past two years. However, applicants wishing to remain at a particular site may make a request in the site selection portion of the online application, provided they have not worked or collaborated with any of the faculty or staff at that program site. 

9. Do you accept applicants with degrees from outside the US?

Applicants with degrees from outside the US are eligible to apply as long as they are a US citizen or permanent resident green card holder at the time of application.  Additionally, scholars (if selected) must not be receiving support from other research fellowships/traineeships at the time they begin the program.

10. Is there a limit to the amount of applicants from a given institution?

No, there is no limit.

11. Can I reapply to the program if, in a previous year, I applied and was not selected?
Yes. We encourage those interested in the Health & Society Scholars program to reapply, if interested.  A number of our scholars and alumni were chosen after reapplying to the program.

12. How will I know if you have received my application and the submission of my references responses?

APPLICATION – Once you have completed all the sections of your online application (regardless of whether or not all your references have been received) you may do a Final Submit from your main application screen.  Once you do a Final Submit, you will receive a confirmation email that your application has been received and you will no longer be able to edit your application.  You will, however, still be able to access the reference portion of your application and monitor the receipt of your references, as well as send reminders to them and change the reference if needed.

REFERENCES - As part of the online application, you will be asked to provide contact information for three (3) people who have agreed to complete an online reference submission for you. Once you have submitted this information, your reference will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to complete the online reference submission. It is your responsibility to ensure that your references complete this request by September 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM ET. You will receive e-mail notification confirming that your reference has completed the online reference submission. Your reference will also receive e-mail notification confirming that his/her online reference submission has been completed. 

Please Note – As ours is an online application and review process, the program does not except references submitted to our office via US or over-night mail, fax, email or otherwise.

13. Who will review my application?

All applications will be screened and reviewed by the National Program Office (NPO), the National Advisory Committee (NAC) and the participating universities. 

14. Who decides where finalists will interview?

Finalists may be asked to interview at up to four (4) of the participating universities. Decisions as to where a finalist will interview will be based upon the applicant’s interest in interviewing at a site and the sites’ interest in interviewing an applicant.

15. If I am selected as a finalist, will I be able to rank the site(s) after the interview process?

Yes. Finalists will be asked to rank the sites at which they interviewed after all the interviews have been completed. The sites also will be asked to rank the finalists. 

16. Will I be reimbursed for my expenses when I interview?

The HSS program will direct-bill costs associated with airfare and lodging, and reimburse finalists (up to reasonable and customary rates) for ground transportation and meal expenses incurred during the interview process.

17. Are there opportunities for teaching or teaching requirements? Can clinicians continue their clinical work during the program?

The Health & Society Scholars program is a two-year fellowship program, during which the focus must be on training and research. It is not possible to be a part-time Health & Society Scholar. In order to protect the scholar’s time for research and training, teaching and clinical activities are limited to a maximum of 10% of time (half day per week) and without monetary compensation. Teaching and clinical activities must be pre-approved by the Program site directors and the national program office (NPO). 

18. As a scholar, can I receive other forms of compensation?

Scholars may not receive compensation for outside work such as consulting or speaking engagements and such activities are discouraged. 

19. In addition to the scholar stipend, what benefits will scholars receive?

The scholars will receive health benefits through the university at which they are placed. Benefits such as subsidized housing are determined by the individual sites. All scholars receive benefits in the form of relocation, travel, computer and research funds. Any additional benefits, if applicable, are determined by the individual sites. 

20. Can I take sabbatical leave to participate in the program? If so, can I receive my sabbatical pay?

It is possible to be on sabbatical from your sponsoring institution and be a Health & Society Scholar, with the following provisions:

        The Health & Society Scholars program is a training program for researchers interested in and committed to building the field of population health.

        Participants must consider participation in the program to be a full-time job.

        The program is for two years and your institution must be willing to commit to a two-year sabbatical.

        You must be willing to relocate to one of the four participating universities during the two-year period.

The program provides annual stipends, and sponsoring institutions may supplement the stipend to meet, but not exceed, the salary level you received prior to entering the program.

21. Can I maintain my existing research grants or apply for new grants while participating in the program?

Scholars in the HSS program are allowed to be PIs on existing grants (or apply for new grants) with the following conditions:

  • Scholars are not allowed to receive any salary support from grants (including HSS seed grants) during their time in the HSS program.  Additionally, scholars receiving any sabbatical supplemental pay while in the HSS program are not allowed to have any salary support from existing grants built into that pay.
  • Those scholars entering the HSS program with existing grants must be sure the workload associated with the grant does not negatively affect their ability to participate fully in all aspects of the HSS program.
  • Similarly, the time required for scholars to  apply for new grants must not affect  their ability to participate fully in all aspects of the HSS program.
  • Any new grants being applied for or obtained while in the HSS program should build upon the work they are doing as a scholar.
  • Any additional policies of the scholar’s program site institution regarding scholars being PIs on grants must also be adhered to in addition to those outlined above.

The site directors at each of the program sites will be responsible for ensuring that all the above conditions are met by their scholars.