Apply to be a FFAR Fellow

Due dates in 2025:

  • February 22 for the Stipend + Professional Development Category
  • April 15 for the Professional Development Category

See below for information on the two categories of sponsorship (stipend and non-stipend). Students from any university in the U.S. or Canada are eligible to apply for both categories of the Fellowship.

Sponsorship is matched equally by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and matching funds from industry, NGOs, commodity organizations, or other sources of non-federal funds. Match sponsorship from several of these sources can be combined to support a student. Match sponsorship for the three-year program is US$97,500 for Stipend/Professional Development Fellows and US$15,000 for Professional Development Fellows. In-kind sponsorship (e.g., time, supplies, etc.) is not allowable. Applicants must have a committed match sponsor(s) to submit a full application and be eligible for consideration.

For the Stipend/Professional Development category applicants must have at least 50% of the sponsorship pledged by a non-academic entity (e.g., company, commodity organization, foundation, state government) to be considered. The remaining funds can be from departmental or university accounts as long as the source is non-federal (examples of federal funds not accepted: USDA, NIH, or NSF grant funds).

For the Professional Development category preference will be given to applicants with at least partial funding from a non-academic entity (e.g., company, commodity organization, foundation, state government). However, applicants will still be considered if 100% of the funding derives from departmental or university accounts as long as the source is non-federal (examples of federal funds not accepted: USDA, NIH, or NSF grant funds).

Application Deadline: Midnight February 22, 2025

Students accepted into the Stipend/Professional Development category will receive $49,500 each year to cover tuition, fees, stipend, and related costs. Students applying to this category should already have a defined research project and an industry or analogous sponsor. The sponsor(s) will commit $32,500 per year to the Fellowship, matched equally by FFAR. The total of $65,000/annually is distributed as follows: $49,500 for student stipend tuition, fees, etc.; $5,500 for university overhead; and $10,000 retained by the FFAR Fellowship Program lead institution, North Carolina State University, for program management and costs of the professional development training.

For the Stipend/Professional Development category applicants must have at least 50% of the sponsorship pledged by a non-academic entity (e.g., company, commodity organization, foundation, state government) to be considered. The remaining funds can be from departmental or university accounts as long as the source is non-federal (examples of federal funds not accepted: USDA, NIH, or NSF grant funds). Applications with less than 50% of total sponsorship derived from a non-academic source are not eligible for consideration.

Student applicants must be enrolled or accepted by a PhD program at a U.S. or Canadian university.

Application Deadline: Midnight April 15, 2024

Students accepted into the Professional Development category are full members of the cohort and take part in all professional development activities. Sponsors are invoiced for $5,000 per year for each of the three years of the program. Sponsorships cover the costs of participation in the program. Students do not receive direct payments.

For the Professional Development category preference will be given to applicants with at least partial funding from a non-academic entity (e.g., company, commodity organization, foundation, state government). However, applicants will still be reviewed if 100% of funding derives from departmental or university accounts as long as the source is non-federal (examples of federal funds not accepted: USDA, NIH, or NSF grant funds).

Students applying to this category should have a research or teaching assistantship, or other fellowship, to cover their tuition, stipend, and related costs and be enrolled or accepted by a PhD program at a U.S. or Canadian university.

A student who is selected as a FFAR Fellow in the Professional Development category in one year may apply in a subsequent year for the Stipend/Professional Development category. Regardless of the outcome of that application, the student would continue with their original cohort of Fellows.

Students can apply for one of five scholarships to participate as Fellows in the 2025-2028 program.

Five Rockey FFAR Fellow scholarships are sponsored by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s Rockey FFAR Fellows Fund, which was created to honor the 2022 retirement of the Foundation’s inaugural Executive Director, Dr. Sally Rockey. Students applying for this scholarship are exempt from the requirement to have a financial sponsor, but should meet all other preconditions for application.

Students selected as Rockey FFAR Fellows will exhibit one or more of the following and address these in their Statements of Interest:

  1. Students in the behavioral social sciences (economics, sociology, psychology, political science, communications, public policy) whose research seeks to understand drivers behind the adoption of practices and technologies that promote agricultural sustainability and resilience. This includes applied studies as well as basic research.
  2. Students in the engineering and computer sciences whose research focuses on agricultural challenges using technologies such as computer visioning, machine learning, high through-put phenotyping, etc. This includes applied studies as well as basic research.
  3. Students in any food or agricultural field who could contribute diversity to the cohort. This includes diversity of thought and background, including but not exclusive to diversity of ethnicity, nationality, or heritage.

Apply! Apply! Apply! Join a cohort of fellows who feel like family all while experiencing the support you never knew you needed.

Messages from graduates of the FFAR program

Never hesitate to apply. The outcomes of this program are priceless. You will have access to the most amazing team of professionals and human beings that want you to succeed in the grandest of ways. Without the FFAR Fellows program, I would not have enjoyed my PhD program as much.

Messages from graduates of the FFAR program

You have no idea what you are in for. You think you do, but it is so much better. You are going to learn so much about yourself. Mostly good stuff, but also a lot of really difficult self-reflection that will challenge and develop you as a person. The program also places a lot of emphasis on building confidence in some of the scary parts of our careers, like negotiation, interviewing, presenting your work, talking to media, work-life balance, demanding respect, and admitting you’re wrong and willing to
change. You’re going to love it!

Messages from graduates of the FFAR program

The descriptor “life-changing” sometimes feels over-used and cliche. But for the FFAR Fellows program, I feel it is highly appropriate. I attribute a massive portion of my success as a doctoral student and researcher to the influence of my training through the program. The FFAR Fellows program made me a better researcher, communicator, public policy advocate, and as a whole, a better human being. I really cannot recommend the program highly enough if you are interested in taking your doctoral career to the next level.

Messages from graduates of the FFAR program

The FFAR Fellows program is a golden opportunity to advance your career and establish connections with outstanding experts in STEM and other disciplines. It will help you develop your professional and practical experiences, which will boost your self-confidence and professional competence in your field of study. The chance to receive mentoring, training, travel, and professional networking opportunities opens the door to your future career path.

Messages from graduates of the FFAR program

Definitely, definitely, definitely recommend applying!!! Being a FFAR Fellow easily made me a more successful and well-rounded scientist and human being. I had so much fun in this program and I guarantee it gave me a leg up on my career, my relationship with my peers and advisors, and my scientific work.

Messages from graduates of the FFAR program

Application and Eligibility

  • Completion of a MS degree or one year of a PhD program by August 2025
  • Acceptance in a PHD program by May 1, 2025
  • Three years remaining in the degree program (Fall 2025 to Spring 2028)
  • A confirmed PhD faculty advisor
  • Confirmation of a financial sponsor (sponsors can include companies, foundations, NGOs, grower organizations; university departments can also sponsor students using non-federal funds). Sponsors provide funding for 50% of the costs of the fellowship, with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research providing 50%. Total sponsorship costs for the three-year program are US$97,500 for Stipend Fellows and US$15,000 for Non-Stipend Fellows. All fellows receive equal training as part of their cohort.
  • Residency or study visa
  • Availability to attend the full orientation week at NC State University in Raleigh, NC, August 3 – 9, 2025
  • Eagerness to participate in the FFAR Fellows and ability to spend the equivalent of a 1-hour course each semester on fellows training and activities
  • Statement of interest in being a member of the FFAR Fellows Program (3 application essay questions)
  • Student CV
  • Faculty adviser CV
  • Three or four reference letters.
    For students already in a PhD program, three letters are required, one of which should be from the current advisor. For students with an MS but not currently in a PhD program four letters are required, one of which is from the MS advisor and one from the future PhD advisor. Letters should speak to the candidate’s capacity and desire to engage in a cohort-based professional development program that complements their research activities. As mentioned earlier, fellows spend the equivalent of a 1-hour course each semester on fellows training and activities and should be not only willing, but eager for this engagement. Applicants are highly encouraged to supply a letter of recommendation from their sponsor.
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are allowed. Official transcripts may be requested if the applicant is selected.
  • Letter of financial commitment from the financial sponsor(s) (must be a non-federal source of funds)

The applicant must meet all eligibility requirements and their research topic must address one or more of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s three Critical Priority Areas: Agroecosystems, Food Systems, Production Systems.  Applicants are encouraged to read and connect their research area to the Foundation’s Research Strategy for 2024-2028.

Applications are considered by a selection committee comprised of the following:

  • Scientists and business professionals from companies in the fields of agriculture and the life sciences
  • Research and academic administrators from university programs in agriculture and the life sciences
  • Program officers from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

Applications are judged primarily on the quality of the student and the student’s potential to benefit from and contribute to a peer cohort of future leaders in food and agriculture. Applicants are also encouraged to read and connect their research area and career interests to the Foundation’s Research Strategy for 2024-2028.

Finalists may be invited to an online interview with members of the selection committee.

Financial commitment letter: The letter of financial commitment from the financial sponsor should be submitted with the student’s application and include the following:

  1. Pledge of financial support: for the Stipend + Professional Development category this is US$32,500/year for each of three years, paid by August 15 of each year; for the Professional Development category this is US$5,000 year for each of three years, paid by August 15 of each year.|
  2. Pledge to mentor the Fellow: industry (or analogous) sponsors commit to having one (or more) representatives from the industry or other entity serve as a mentor to the student, working with the student on their annual professional development plan and being available for student questions. Students with university sponsors will be matched with an industry (or analogous) mentor.
  3. As noted above, scholarship applicants can replace this letter with a simple document noting the scholarship option for which they are applying.
  4. For the Stipend/Professional Development category applicants must have at least 50%  of the sponsorship pledged by a non-academic entity (e.g., company, commodity organization, foundation, state government) to be considered. The remaining funds can be from departmental or university accounts as long as the source is non-federal (examples of federal funds not accepted: USDA, NIH, or NSF grant funds). Applications with less than 50% of total sponsorship derived from a non-academic source are not eligible for consideration.
  5. For the Professional Development category preference will be given to applicants with at least partial funding from a non-academic entity (e.g., company, commodity organization, foundation, state government). However, applicants will still be reviewed if 100% of funding derives from departmental or university accounts as long as the source is non-federal (examples of federal funds not accepted: USDA, NIH, or NSF grant funds).

Complete applications must be received by midnight February 22 for the Stipend + Professional Development category, and by midnight April 15 for the Professional Development category. Fellows will be notified by March 15 for the Stipend + Professional Development category, and by May 9 for the Professional Development category.

To be considered for the fellowship, students must submit all application materials by the due dates, including all letters of reference and the confirmation of financial commitment from a university, industry, or analogous sponsor.

For additional information, contact the FFAR Fellows Program Director, Dr. Rebecca Dunning.