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Resources for applicants to Schmidt Science Fellows 2025

We aim to provide all nominated applicants to Schmidt Science Fellows with the information required to demonstrate their ability and potential for a Fellowship. 

We hosted two webinars to share insights and guidance for the 2025 application and selection process with prospective candidates on April 15, 2024. Please see the webinar slides below. 

Further detailed guidance will be available to all nominated candidates within the online application, and we advise candidates to read these carefully. If the guidance notes and FAQ resources here do not answer your questions, please contact

Guidance for prospective candidates:


What is the earliest date I can start my 2025 Fellowship?

Most 2025 Fellows are expected to begin their Fellowship Research Placements in July or October 2025, with July 1, 2025 being the earliest start date.

How many organizations nominate Schmidt Science Fellows?

Over 100 of the world’s leading universities and research institutes are invited to make nominations each year.

How do I know if my institute is a Nominating Partner Organization, and how can I find who the nominations come from in my university?

You may contact if you are unsure about your institution’s nominating status or if you are unsure who your institutional representative is.

What is the process for nominations at my institution?

Each Nominating Partner Organization is requested to advertise the fellowship opportunity to all relevant departments and for this to be open to all eligible students. Each organization conducts their own internal selection process to identify their most competitive candidates to nominate.

How competitive is Schmidt Science Fellows?

This is a highly competitive program. Schmidt Science Fellows is a transformative opportunity for exceptional individuals who meet all our selection criteria to a high degree. We expect to select around 30 Fellows each year. Typically, our success rate (of nominees already pre-screened and selected from their PhD university) is just under 10% based on completed applications.

Can you provide me with an example of a good past application to use as a template?

All applications to Schmidt Science Fellows are treated in confidence. We do not provide examples of ‘good’ applications because the best application for you is the one that is personal to you and your scientific objectives. Your application should be your own work, be personal to you, and reflect your achievements and future plans. Applications based on other candidates’ applications or applications from previous years will not stand out during the review process and you may inadvertently fail to address requirements specific to this year’s process.

Are there word or page limits within the application?

Yes. Word and page limits are clearly communicated both in the online application form and in the associated guidance notes, please pay close attention to these.

What is the expectation regarding the number and quality of publications?

You should be able to evidence a clear record of achievement and productivity relative to your field(s) of study. Published outputs, where your contributions are made clear and peer-reviewed, are very useful when evaluating academic excellence and we recommend you try to get your publications out wherever possible. However, there is no one simple answer to this question as outputs vary significantly between disciplines. Furthermore, the number of publications may vary depending on the duration of the PhD. Our Academic Review is carried out by experts in different disciplinary areas and they will take these factors into account.

How does the Academic Review work? Are there interviews?

There are no interviews for the Academic Review process. At this stage of the process, a review panel of three to five senior academics (all broadly expert in your PhD research area) review your application materials independently ahead of convening as a panel to discuss each application and to arrive at a consensus set of recommendations and rankings.

Are there any preferred disciplines in which candidates should conduct their PhD or Placement research?

Candidates may have conducted their graduate degree and propose a pivot into any of the natural sciences (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Sciences), Engineering, Mathematics, or Computing, including all sub-disciplines within. Among these disciplines, the program has no favored or unfavored disciplines, or preferred combinations of PhD and pivot dispciplines.

Can you give an example of what a pivot is?

We expect your Fellowship Research Proposal to represent a genuine, and ambitious, change of focus from your PhD studies, with a clear and positive rationale for the change in direction you are proposing. In all cases, you should make a clear case for the genuine development of new skills and widening of perspectives and networks. If the new area is very far removed from your previous research experience, you should take care to evidence your investigation of both the novelty and feasibility of the proposed research.

How risky and novel should my pivot be? Am I expected to be somewhat expert in my new field of study?

We encourage ambition, innovation, and bold ideas, and we provide an environment where you have the intellectual freedom and support to take this kind of risk. However, the ambition should be tempered with a clarity of vision for the purpose of making this leap and a thorough investigation into the feasibility of making the attempt. You do not have to be an expert in the field you are moving into, but you should have researched the area sufficiently well to be able to make a proposal that is both original and which includes enough technical detail to convince reviewers of its feasibility. Proposals that are wholly derivative or that duplicate existing ideas are unlikely to be competitive. You should be feeling excited but uncomfortable about what you don’t know in the new area. If you have already mastered the majority of skills needed to undertake your Fellowship research proposal, then you are probably not suggesting a strong enough pivot.

Does the pivot need to make an impact on society (e.g., solving real-life problems in current situations)?

We support bold ideas and that includes fundamental blue-skies academic research as well as applied research. In either case, we recommend you also articulate a vision as to how the proposal may have an impact, in both the short and longer-term, be that in science and/ or society.

How do you balance 'big ideas' with a 12–24 month Research Proposal? What if my idea is more ambitious than that?

The program aims to advance scientific discovery through interdisciplinary research and training, so an argument will need to be made for how a pivot into any discipline will facilitate that scientific advancement. We suggest you consider the Fellowship and 12-24 month research proposal as part of the bigger picture, there is no expectation for you to single-handedly solve grand societal challenges within this time frame. We recommend you focus your research proposal on the 12-24 month period and consider its technical feasibility within that time frame, but to think of this as part of a longer-term vision. It is worth articulating how the focused learnings you will gain through this period of intensive study will contribute to both your personal/ research goals after the Fellowship as well as commenting on the potential for wider impact in science and society.

I have more than one potential research project in mind, should I write about all of them or just focus on one?

You should focus on creating a single clear Fellowship Research Proposal. We are looking for Fellows to pivot into a new discipline and go through an intense period of learning to embed themselves fully in a new research area. Approaches proposing shallower learnings across multiple disciplines are less likely to be competitive.

I have already started working on my pivot, is it seen as advantageous to have learned many of the new skills before starting?

Even if you have switched disciplines during your PhD, linear or incremental extensions of your PhD studies are unlikely to be considered ambitious enough. We advise that your pivot should at least require you to learn a new skill set. We recognize that some candidates will have already secured a postdoctoral position prior to commencing the Fellowship Research Placement. However, candidates should not assume that any pre-existing position will be automatically approved or denied. We recommend you think deeply about how any pre-existing position may meet the requirement of widening your skills, perspectives, and networks through this Fellowship. All placements are subject to the same review and approval process – this is entirely focused on making sure that you find the best lab in which to achieve your ambitious Fellowship goals. We recommend you keep your options open and have a flexible mindset about where you may eventually carry out your Fellowship Research Placement.

How bound and committed are we to the project we propose in our application?

You are not expected to commit to the proposal before the award of a Fellowship. The Fellowship Research Proposal itself is subject to discussion, mentoring, review and approval before the Fellowship commences – we accept that the science may have moved on since your application and also that further mentoring and discussion may reshape things.

Can I pivot into the Social Sciences?

Schmidt Science Fellows supports research in any of the natural sciences (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Sciences), Engineering, Mathematics, or Computing, including all sub-disciplines within. Applications proposing a pivot into the Social Sciences are not eligible for our Program.

Can I really go anywhere in the world to do my research placement?

Yes. We encourage Schmidt Science Fellows to think broadly, deeply, and globally about where they undertake their Fellowship Research Placements. Fellows may undertake their Placements in any laboratory, anywhere in the world, that aligns with the program vision and the individual training needs of the Fellow. We do not encourage pivots into particular research areas or impose boundaries in this regard.

Can I do my Fellowship placement in the lab where I am currently studying for my PhD?

No. Selected Fellows are required to pursue a Fellowship Research Placement in a different location to that of their PhD. Candidates should view a potential Fellowship Research Placement as an unrivaled opportunity to go anywhere in the world to acquire new skills in a new discipline and to experience a different research environment. We encourage you to think broadly and globally about this, to make the most of this opportunity and consider how it may enable both your current project and future career.

How do I identify potential labs, and do I need to reach out to potential PIs?

We recommend you investigate which labs and organizations are generating interesting outputs and publications in the area you wish to move into, as a first step. We recommend you also investigate the culture of the lab, its structure and the PI’s track record, to see if you think they could provide the training environment and resources you would need, and if you feel you would ‘fit’.  

The Options for Placement section of the application is about better understanding your approach to the pivot. Nothing here is binding and there are no institutes or PIs who are looked on more favorably than others. It is about demonstrating that you have thoroughly considered the personal and academic support you will need to develop skills in a new area and the best environment to support your personal and professional development as you move into a new research discipline.

You do not need to secure a position at this stage or contact potential PIs, but you may do so if you wish. This will not affect your application. You are also not expected to join or commit to any one option before the award of a Fellowship. Indeed, it is advised that you wait if you can, to have the full benefit of the mentoring of our Academic Council, before making any commitment so that you may secure the placement that is best for you and your science.

Can you choose to be placed at a non-academic institution for the Fellowship placement?

Fellows are required to also have an academic affiliation if they are placed at a non-academic institution (to ensure access to an appropriate and supportive scientific community and help maintain a breadth of longer-term career options). Placements for all selected Fellows are subject to approval by the program.

Am I allowed to be co-supervised by multiple PI’s?

Fellows must have a single primary PI who is responsible for their professional mentorship and research support. This does not preclude formal collaboration with other scientists or groups but is to ensure the PI is accountable and responsible for providing scientific guidance, resources, and a conducive training environment.

Could you clarify what the placement approval process looks like?

New Fellows are encouraged to pause to fully consider their options and work together with our Academic Council to agree on their research plan and host lab. The process consists of an initial consultation stage where Fellows discuss research plans, explore best options for Placement, and can get advice on their project and plans, followed by Fellows contacting prospective PIs to discuss their needs and research proposal to ensure there is a mutual fit. Following this discussion, Fellows submit their research proposal to the Program team for review and formal approval from a sub-committee of the Academic Council. Once confirmation of support from the host PI/ university is in place, the Fellow and PI (in consultation with the Program) agree on a start date.

Can the Fellowship be extended beyond 24 months?

Currently, the Fellowship allows for a 12-24 month Research Placement. A program of alumni activities follows on from this, but we do not envisage further extensions of the Placement.

Does the program have any requirements relating to intellectual property we generate during the Fellowship?

No. Schmidt Science Fellows does not make any claim to the intellectual property arising from your research during your Fellowship Research Placement.

What expectations do you have for my career after the Fellowship Placement?

While it is our hope and expectation that Senior Fellows will continue to work toward advancing interdisciplinary discovery to benefit the world, there are many ways that can be achieved, and Schmidt Science Fellows are free to pursue any career path they wish following their Fellowship Research Placement.

Does the Schmidt Science Fellows program provide additional funding for research costs and support staff?

Stipends are intended to support personal costs and should not be used to pay for research costs or consumables. Your host organization is required to provide the project resources necessary to meet your placement objectives.

Can I hold another fellowship at the same time, or do I have to defer it?

We do not permit deferrals (unless related to sick leave or family leave) and we do not normally allow Fellows to receive any awards or remuneration from other organizations concurrent with the Fellowship. Supplementary funding for research and other professional development (such as travel grants) is allowed and encouraged. With Program approval, Fellows may also retain the title of another fellowship during the Fellowship Year if personal remuneration is not accepted and as long as there are no compulsory requirements that could hinder full participation in our programming (e.g., full attendance at the Senior Leadership Program and engagement with Mentoring), or effective engagement with the Fellowship Research Placement.