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OWSD PhD Fellowships for Women from Developing Countries, 2023

The OWSD Ph.D. Fellowships for Women from developing countries accept applications annually from eligible women. So, quickly read through this article and ascertain your eligibility.

The organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) is making this fellowship program available for women scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDC).

The fellowships are funded to pursue postgraduate studies leading to a doctorate in all branches of the natural sciences at a center of excellence (renowned research institutions/universities) in the South (developing countries) outside the applicant’s home country.

Each fellowship will be offered for up to three years as all applicants are to also ensure that the eligibility criteria are met as stated.

Aside from eligibility, this article also explores the fellowship benefit and more importantly how to apply for this successfully.

Table of contents


With funds generously provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), OWSD has instituted a fellowship program for female students from Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who wish to pursue postgraduate training leading to a Ph.D., at centers of excellence in the South (developing countries), outside their own country.

The general purpose of the  OWSD Postgraduate Training Fellowships scheme is to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of women leaders in science and technology and to promote their effective participation in the scientific and technological development of their countries.

Eligibility For the OWSD Ph.D. Fellowships For Women

To be eligible, you have to fulfill the conditions such as;

  • Open to qualified women science graduates from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (see list below).
  • If applicants are over 40 years of age, they should briefly explain why their research career has been delayed.
  • The minimum qualification is an MSc degree (or equivalent), or an outstanding BSc honors degree in the natural sciences, engineering, or information technology disciplines.
  • Host institutions must be located in a developing country. This must be a different country from the applicant’s home country.
  • Applicants must provide a preliminary acceptance letter from at least one host institute. The letter must be prepared based on the sample on page 10 and be signed by the head of the department, potential host supervisor, or postgraduate studies coordinator.
  • Students from eligible countries already enrolled in a Ph.D. program in their home country can apply for the sandwich option.
    This gives them access to expertise and resources that might not be available at the home institute.
  • Applicants already on-site in the host country will not be considered eligible since this implies that they have already secured sufficient funding for their studies.
  • The applicant must be willing to return to her own country after completion of the fellowship.
  • Accompanying persons are not eligible for support.

Eligible Countries 

The OWSD Ph.D. Fellowships for Women are for candidates from all developing countries.


The scholarship is available for students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. Degree in the following fields of study:

Eligible Scientific fields are Agricultural Sciences; Structural, Cell, and Molecular Biology; Biological Systems and Organisms; Medical and Health Sciences, Neurosciences, Chemical sciences  Engineering Sciences; Information Technology; Astronomy, Space and Earth Sciences; Mathematical Sciences, and Physics. Please note that applications from students in the Basic (or ‘pure’) Sciences, such as Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry are encouraged.

Funded By:

With funds generously provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), OWSD has instituted this fellowship program.

Beneficiaries(Target Groups):

OWSD Postgraduate Training Fellowships are open for women scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros Islands, Congo Dem. Rep., Congo Rep., Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kenya, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Niger, Réunion, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Western Sahara, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe).

Benefits(Value/ Inclusions):

Award No:

The number of awards under the OWSD Ph.D. Fellowships for Women is not specified.

Scholarship Duration:  

The OWSD Ph.D. Fellowships for Women span for up to 4 years

Scholarship covers:  

The scholarship covers;

  • Each fellowship will be offered for up to four years and will cover the following:
  • A monthly allowance to cover basic living expenses such as accommodation and meals while in the host country
  • A special allowance to attend international conferences during the period of the fellowship
  • A return ticket from the home country to the host institute for the agreed research period
  • Visa expenses and annual medical insurance contribution
  • The opportunity to attend regional science communications workshops, on a competitive basis
  • Study fees (including tuition and registration fees) in agreement with the chosen host institute which is also expected to contribute
  • Travel expenses to and from the host institute

Selection Criteria for OWSD Postgraduate Training Fellowships

‣ The fellowships are highly competitive, and the selection will be based on scientific competence and merit.

‣ The applications will be reviewed by a panel of eminent scientists, appointed by the Executive Board of  OWSD

Scholarship Application Method 

‣ Please send your applications via email.

Country where tenable (by subset): OWSD countries

Required documents for application

We strongly encourage eligible applicants to start gathering all requested documentation as soon as possible; sometimes it takes weeks to receive all relevant letters.

1. Ph.D. research proposal outline

  • Candidates must submit a Ph.D. research proposal outline (max 2.000 words) which should be a summarized description of the Ph.D. research proposal.
  • Guidelines for writing a good research proposal outline are available here.
  • Candidates are invited to study carefully these guidelines and ensure that their proposal is well-structured and clear. The project proposal is given particular attention to the selection.

2. Degree certificates and Transcripts

Candidates must submit copies of:

  1. All university degree certificates; and
  2. All university-issued transcripts, indicating all courses and grades.

3. Curriculum Vitae

Candidates must submit their complete CV (including a list of publications, if available).

4. Preliminary acceptance letter

Candidates must submit a preliminary acceptance letter from at least one host institute.

  • The letter must be signed by the head of the department or by the postgraduate studies coordinator.
  • The study starting date on the preliminary acceptance letter must be the year following the application.
  • The sample available here must be used for the preparation of this document.

5. Letter of commitment

Candidates must submit a letter of commitment from the prospective host supervisor confirming that the host institute has the resources (e.g. bench fees, laboratory equipment) required to undertake the project.

  • The letter should also describe why the host institute is appropriate for the subject of study and confirm the supervisor’s interest in working with the candidate.
  • Guidelines for letter drafting are available here.

6. Reference letters

Candidates must submit two reference letters from senior scientists familiar with their work.

  • Guidelines for reference letter drafting are available here.
  • For SANDWICH candidates only: please note that the home Ph.D. supervisor cannot be one of the two referees.

7. Passport

Candidates must submit a scanned copy of the passport page, which contains personal details (photo, document number, etc.).

Candidates applying for a SANDWICH study scheme must, in addition, submit also the following documents:

8. Registration and No objection certificate

  • Sandwich candidates must submit the Registration and No objection certificate prepared by the home institute confirming that the candidate is a Ph.D. registered student and that there is no objection to her studying at the chosen host institute abroad.
  • The certificate template can be downloaded here and must be completed and signed by the head/director of the home institute.

9. Supporting statement from home supervisor 

Sandwich candidates must submit a supporting statement, prepared and signed by the home supervisor on letter-headed paper. The supervisor should:

a. State that he/she will support the candidate undertaking part of her studies at the host institute abroad; and

b. Describe how the research visit abroad will impact/benefit the candidate’s research project.

The online application system will only accept applications complete in all parts, including the required documents. All documents must be uploaded through the online application system. Do not email any document to OWSD unless requested.

The OWSD Secretariat reserves the right to judge an application ineligible if the answers and/or documentation do not correspond to the specific question asked (e.g. blank documents, false certificates, outdated reference letters). 

If selected for an OWSD fellowship, kindly note that OWSD must be informed by the awardee of additional/supplementary grants, funds, and bursaries that have been awarded in connection with her Ph.D. research program, specifying the donor, amount, duration, and purpose of the grant (which costs are meant to be covered).

Any breach of this rule could lead OWSD to cancel the fellowship.

If the awardee is the recipient of a significant grant, OWSD may decide to reduce the fellowship support accordingly.



OWSD Ph.D. Fellowships applications_ Downloadable Version of the 2020 Call for Apllications.pdf

Scholarship Application Due Date: 

The deadline for submission of applications is 30 May

Application forms and guidelines can be downloaded from the official website

‣ It is important to read the application procedure and visit the official websites (link found below) for detailed information on how to apply for this scholarship.



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