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Program Details

Data Science Scholars

Stanford Data Science Scholars are current Stanford PhD students at the University who are involved in challenging use of data science at the frontiers of their research. Successful awardees are provided with 50% of their compensation over two years so that they may spend half of their time together with our wider faculty and research community taking on new challenges in data science and bringing what they have learned back to their home departments.

Candidates will be selected from departments and research groups throughout campus representing interests in the physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, human health, nature and sustainability, economics, ethics, public policy, statistics, and computer sciences.

Stanford Data Science is part of the Universities Long Range Planning efforts, and aims to make Stanford a data-enabled university. The effort works to weave data science into the fabric of the university so that we can most effectively respond to our most pressing societal and research challenges. Stanford Data Science Scholars play a pivotal role in developing a diverse community of researchers that are at the forefront of developing and applying modern data science methods to all fields.

Our goal is to bring together a diverse cohort of researchers with data science skills who are looking to make new advances by collaborating across disciplines that learn from each other while advancing data science solutions to their own unique domain challenges.

Eligibility, funding, and benefits

In order to be considered for this opportunity, applicants must be current PhD students who have finished their qualifying exams¹ (generally entering their second year) in any of Stanford University’s departments or research organizations. Selected awardees will be provided with 50% of their compensation (RA'ship, salary, benefits and/or fees) over a two-year period beginning in the Fall Quarter.

These funds will not supplement current compensation, but rather will replace 50% of an awardee’s current compensation allowing for half of the scholar's time to be spent with Stanford Data Science. A candidate’s advisor must sign off on this arrangement before finalizing. On a case by case basis, we will consider applicants who will be at Stanford for less than two years.

Our selection committee will seek to find candidates that are actively using data science techniques to address challenging questions AND who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with others. We recognize that there is a wide range of technical experience that may be employed in applying data science methods to different disciplines, and technical experience will only be one of several criteria that will be considered along with creativity, outreach, and leadership.

In addition to funding support, Stanford Data Science will provide common working space, mentorship opportunities, and an energetic atmosphere that encourages innovative thinking.  Selected applicants will have an excellent opportunity to develop close relationships and research developments with a strong cohort of experts from a variety of domains and method fields enabling new insights from subject areas far outside of their own experience. The new cohort will also have the opportunity to work with the previous cohort (2019-2020) to help shape the future of the program, and of the wider data science efforts across campus.

Expectations of Stanford Data Science Scholars

Stanford Data Science Scholars are 50% funded by Stanford Data Science to work part-time with the program and part-time in their home department. They will have space and support to develop their intellectual pursuits while also serving as bridge builders between the campus-wide data science activities and researchers from their given domains. While Data Science Scholars are expected to spend time with the program, much of this time will include the intellectual freedom to follow their own research interests with the sole priority that the scholar takes advantage of their colleagues and surroundings and use the opportunity to expand their research in a direction that would not be possible alone. We also expect each Data Science Scholar to spend a limited amount of time developing and participating in activities that help to build a diverse community of data science researchers at Stanford and advance the practice of data science for all.



  • 50% financial support (a 25% RA'ship/TA'ship, or Stipend)
  • Additional $2,000 / year research support stipend
  • Coworking space, including monitors and standing desks, with data science scholars (pending re-opening of campus)
  • Connection with faculty involved in Stanford Data Science
  • Help shape the future of data science at Stanford
  • Build a life-long community of data science practitioners using advanced techniques to conduct breakthrough research


  • Work on your data science related research projects
  • Regular attendance in weekly scholar’s seminars, events & lectures
  • Participation and leadership in various campus-wide data science activities and projects


  • Field trips to local data science oriented companies and nonprofits
  • Work with Research Data Scientists and Software Engineers on campus to create and extend open-source research software
  • Get trained as a Carpentries Instructor and teach workshops

Application Process

In order to apply, please use the form linked below to submit your (1) CV and (2) a single page Letter of Intent (LOI) that describes your interest in becoming a Stanford Data Science Scholar and how you might use the opportunity to advance your research and help build the data science community on campus. We strongly encourage you to provide links to any publicly accessible code and visualizations that you have developed and/or articles or websites that describe efforts that you have led. 

The application period is generally April - May each year for a start in Fall of the next AY.

After an initial review, a semi-finalist group of applicants will be invited to submit letters of recommendation from their advisor(s). A finalist round will be invited for live (video) interviews in the summer.

We expect final decisions in mid-summer and the selected 2021 Stanford Data Science Scholars will begin at the start of the Fall quarter 2021-2022.

¹ We understand that not every department requires qualifying exams by the end of your first year. If you have not taken your qualifying exam(s) or papers, but have successfully completed your first year, please feel free to apply and note in your CV the estimated date by when you expect to complete your department's qualification requirements. Please have at least two years left in your PhD program as of September 2021.