Sustaining Excellence Scholarships for Employment-Based PhD


**Application now closed for 2021**

The College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) at University College Cork is pleased to announce a new Employment-based PhD programme.

The scheme is a collaborative arrangement between UCC, the PhD candidate and their employer.

  • As part of this initiative, UCC is offering up to 5 Sustaining Excellence Scholarships within the College of SEFS.
  • The 5 Scholarships are available to PhD students registered in the Employment-based PhD programme in the College of SEFS.
  • Scholarships will fund tuition fees plus €5,000 per annum for associated research, for the duration of each PhD. Maximum registration for 4 years (full-time) or 6 years (part-time).

An Employment-based PhD is a PhD research project that is undertaken by a PhD candidate who is in employment.

  • The PhD candidate remains a salaried employee with their employer and is concurrently registered as a PhD student at UCC for the duration of the PhD project.
  • An employment partner can be a healthcare organisation, a business company/industry, or semi-state commercial organisation.
  • The employment partner must be financially independent of the University and be willing to provide supports such as facilities relevant to the PhD project, a mentor/supervisor to work with academic supervisors at UCC, and dedicated research time for their employee.

More detailed information on employment-based PhD programmes is available.


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.

How to Apply

**Application now closed for 2021**

Prior to applying for an Employment-based PhD the PhD candidate must first arrange the following:

  1. The candidate must get agreement from the company to allow them to pursue a PhD and provide funding; if not successful in the scholarship application, the company agrees to fund the PhD.
  2. The candidate must identify a supervisor and co-supervisor at the company.
  3. The candidate must then identify a supervisor in the College of SEFS at UCC.

Once the company approves funding and the supervisory team has been established and a project agreed, only then can a candidate apply for admission to the Employment-based PhD 

  • Applications for the Employment-based PhD must be submitted online through the application portal.
  • A non-refundable application fee of €50 applies.
  • When a candidate applies here they will be notified officially if their application is successful.
  • Once they are notified of a successful application and if they wish to apply for the Scholarship they need to do so by following the steps below.

To apply for the Sustaining Excellence PhD Scholarships:

  1. The candidate will have applied via the application portal for the Employment Based PhD and will have been notified of the successful outcome.
  2. Candidates then need to apply by completing the Sustaining Excellence PhD Scholarship Application Form and sending it electronically to Ms. Emily Chambers, College of SEFS, UCC. Closing date for the current call is 30 June 2021 (**Application now closed for 2021**).


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. Closing date is 30 June 2021.

Further Information

General Enquiries to: Prof. Justin V. McCarthy PhD, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, College of Science, Engineering & Food Science, University College Cork. Cork, Ireland Email:

Discipline-specific enquiries to:

Contact School/Department Email
Dr. Fidelma Butler Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences 
Dr. Kellie Dean Biochemistry and Cell Biology  
Dr. Davide Tiana Chemistry
Dr. Dan Grigoras Computer Science and Information Technology 
Dr. Gordon Lightbody Engineering and Architecture
Prof. Alan Kelly Food and Nutritional Sciences
Dr. Philipp Hoevel Mathematical Sciences
Dr. Jerry Reen Microbiology
Dr. Andy Ruth Physics 
Dr. Fatima Gunning Tyndall National Institute

College of Science, Engineering and Food Science

Coláiste na hEolaíochta, na hInnealtóireachta agus na hEolaíochta Bia

Block E, Level 3, Food Science Building, UCC, Cork, T12 YN60.