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Kempner Institute Graduate Fellowship

Graduate students are a cornerstone of the Kempner.

Graduate students embody one of the Kempner’s best opportunities to have a deep, positive impact on the fields of natural and artificial intelligence. Graduate fellowships are intended to support a dynamic and diverse community of Ph.D. students across a number of graduate programs, seeding new and innovative scientific discovery in labs across the University. While fellows have a primary research focus that is relevant to the Kempner’s mission, the fellowship offers students flexibility in their research: they can be jointly advised, they have the freedom to determine the direction of their research projects, and, importantly, their research is not tied to any advisor’s funding source.

Fellowship benefits


Kempner graduate fellows receive a stipend, tuition, health insurance, and health fees up to and including the 6th year of graduate school (i.e. six years of support for incoming first-years, five years for incoming second-years, and four years for incoming third-years). Kempner funding will supplement any paid aid, e.g. external fellowships, training grants, and pay for teaching (per program-specific guidelines), up to the program-specified stipend rate. In addition, fellows can apply for professional development funds, including travel support, starting in year two.


Kempner graduate fellows have access to one of the largest academic machine learning clusters in the world, supported by an outstanding group of engineers. They also have access to various educational activities including Kempner courses, bootcamps, workshops, and events. Fellows will have access to shared office and collaboration space and use of facilities in the new Kempner Institute facility.


In addition to their dissertation and Ph.D. program advisors, the Kempner graduate fellows will have a Kempner Institute-affiliated mentor, with whom they will meet twice a year. This mentor will be a resource for the fellow to guide them on career development, participation in the Kempner community, course selections, research projects (at a broad level), and anything else of concern to the student.


Graduate fellows become part of a select cohort of exceptional students working in the same field, as well as a broad and diverse community of faculty, staff, and students including: undergraduate, post-bachelor and graduate students; Kempner fellows and visiting scientists; and Kempner Institute faculty, associate faculty, and collaborators.

Fellowship overview

  • Research

    Kempner graduate student fellows pursue research central to the Kempner’s core mission of understanding the basis of intelligence in natural and artificial systems. Kempner graduate fellows undertake research that is innovative and often multidisciplinary, and that has the potential to have a deep and lasting impact on the study of intelligence.

  • Academics

    Fellows need to fulfill all requirements of their Ph.D. program, including participating in advisory committees and qualifying exams as specified by their Ph.D. program, and remain in good standing in their program. Kempner graduate fellows will present their research yearly at Harvard’s Graduate Student Science Symposium and will be required to submit an annual progress report to the Kempner.

  • Coursework

    Kempner graduate fellows are expected to embrace and train in the interdisciplinary nature of the Kempner, while fulfilling all the curricular requirements of their Ph.D. program. Fellows are encouraged to fulfill flexible electives in their Ph.D. program with courses that ensure exposure to all relevant disciplines, including machine learning, neuroscience, and cognitive science. Graduate fellows can (and are encouraged to) consult with the Assistant Director of Educational Programs, Ella Batty, on course selection.

  • Programmatic engagement

    Fellows are expected to attend and participate in Kempner fellow-specific events and programming as often as monthly. These events, which will take place at the Science and Engineer Complex, include workshops, social- and community-building events, journal clubs, and the Kempner Institute Graduate Student Science Symposium.

  • Community engagement

    Fellows are expected to actively engage in the Kempner’s intellectual and community-building work, participate in Kempner events and committees, and engage in Kempner’s educational activities. Fellows are strongly encouraged to take an active part in shaping its culture and programmatic offerings, including by participating in governance, events, curriculum development and other community offerings.

Community expectations

Kempner Institute graduate fellows are strongly encouraged to engage in the Kempner community and to take an active part in shaping its culture and offerings. This may include participating a range of Kempner community activities and responsibilities. 

Event participation

  • Serving on committees to help plan events
  • Joining Kempner Institute events whenever possible, as a spectator or presenter
  • Supporting other students who are presenting work

Educational participation

  • Choosing to serve as a teaching fellow in Kempner Institute boot camps or cross-listed courses
  • Providing input for current, planned, or proposed educational coursework or offerings including seminars and reading groups
  • Serving as a peer mentor to undergraduate students or post-bachelors fellows

Community participation

  • Engaging in efforts to welcome and include all members of the Kempner Institute community
  • Providing honest, constructive, and actionable feedback about the Kempner Institute community and efforts to enhance it
  • Starting, supporting, or leading committees or groups that engage deeply with other students across the Kempner Institute community

Recruitment, Selection & Application Process