Early career researchers

We are committed to supporting the development of the next generation of social scientist. Our support for early career researchers (ECRs) is structured around three distinct ECR stages:

  • doctoral
  • immediately post doctorate
  • transition to independent researcher.


The majority of our investment in doctoral training is delivered through a network of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).

Prospective students must apply directly to a DTP or CDT in order to secure an ESRC studentship. Studentships can only be held on accredited pathways within a DTP or CDT. The DTP or CDT will determine the applicant’s eligibility and decide which students they wish to allocate ESRC funding to.

Immediately post doctorate

The aim of our Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme is to provide support to those who are in the immediately postdoctoral stage of their career, to support them in consolidating their PhD, and preparing them for the next stage of their research careers

This scheme operates as an annual competition and applications must be made directly to the DTP at which the fellow wants to be based and they will administer the assessment process. Full details, including the specification and a frequently asked questions document will be available on the DTP websites when the funding opportunity is open.

Transition to independent researcher

New Investigator Grants are specifically aimed at supporting those looking to make the transition to an independent researcher. The scheme has an open date so that researchers can apply for it at any point rather than having to wait for an annual competition. This scheme runs alongside our Research Grant Scheme.

New Investigator Grants will support new researchers and academics at the start of their careers to become independent researchers through gaining experience of managing and leading research projects and teams. In addition, they will provide applicants with an opportunity not only to support their own skill development but also the skill development of research staff employed on the grant.

Further information about New Investigator Grants can be found on our pages for current ESRC funding opportunities.

Other ESRC funding schemes

In addition to the ECR-specific schemes highlighted above, ECRs may also be eligible to apply for range of other funding opportunities.

Last updated: 7 December 2023

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