Sustaining Excellence Scholarships for Employment-based PhD

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The College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) at University College Cork has announced a new Employment-based PhD programme, and up to 5 new Sustaining Excellence Scholarships to support it. The scheme is a collaborative arrangement between UCC, the PhD candidate and their employer.

An Employment-based PhD is a PhD research project that is undertaken by a PhD candidate who is in employment. The PhD candidate remains employed by the employment partner and is concurrently registered as a PhD student at UCC for the duration of the PhD project.

An employment partner is a business, company, higher education institution, registered charity, social, cultural, not-for-profit organisation and national/international public body. The employment partner must be financially independent of the university, be able to offer suitable facilities to host, mentor and provide the necessary supports for the duration of the PhD candidate.

How to Apply

To apply for an Employment-based PhD: the PhD candidate must first get agreement from the company for funding and identify a supervisor and co-supervisor at the company. The candidate must then identify a supervisor in the College of SEFS at UCC. These three people will form the Supervisory Team for the PhD candidate and will define an Employment-based project. Once the company approves funding, a supervisory team has been established and a project agreed, only then can a candidate apply for admission to the PhD programme.

Applications for the Employment-based PhD must be submitted online through the Postgraduate Application Centre. A non-refundable application fee of €50 applies. Candidates are advised to apply at least three months in advance of the estimated start date. There are 4 start dates each year for PhD students: October, January, April and July.

To apply for the Sustaining Excellence PhD Scholarships: the candidate must first apply for an Employment-based PhD and then complete the Sustaining Excellence PhD Scholarship Application Form (available below) and send it electronically to Dr Justin McCarthy, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, College of Science, Engineering and Food Science, UCC ( The closing date for the first-round of scholarships is September 30th 2020.

Application Form: Sustaining Excellence Scholarship Application Form 2020


Applicants must have attained at least Second Class Honours, Grade I in an Honours level primary degree in a discipline relevant to the research project. All students on the Employment-based PhD programme will register in the College of SEFS and are subject to the same requirements as all other university PhD students, but shares his/her working time between the private enterprise and the university.

Research Project

The PhD research project can be within any research field, provided that the project’s research quality and the direct or indirect short- or long-term research significance and impact can be argued convincingly. PhD candidates undertake an equivalent student workload of 90 ECTS credits for each calendar year of full-time research, or proportional equivalent for part-time students.

Funding and Requirements

In the Employment-based PhD programme, the company must finance the student’s salary, pay the PhD candidate’s registration fee and pay all expenses for the project, including equipment, materials and data collection. If the project runs for more than four years, the Company will finance the project, and pay the PhD student’s University registration fees throughout.

The Sustaining Excellence Scholarships will fund the PhD candidate’s registration fees plus €5,000 per annum for associated research costs. The employment partner must finance the PhD candidate’s salary.


Applications for the Sustaining Excellence PhD Scholarships will be reviewed by a panel of 3-5 members of the College of SEFS Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) & Research Committee that will include the Chair of the GSC. The Chair of the GSC will chair the review panel and will select members of the College Graduate Studies and Research Committees as appropriate for the topic range of research projects submitted. Panel membership selection will be very sensitive to any potential conflict of interest between panel members and applicants.

The closing date for the first-round of scholarships is September 30th 2020.

Further Information

  1. Justin V. McCarthy PhD, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, College of Science, Engineering & Food Science, University College Cork. Cork, Ireland


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