What is an Early Career Scholar?

What is an Early Career Scholar?

Funding bodies and organisations define ‘early career’ in many different ways.  Essentially, you have to check individual institutions’ websites and specific job adverts to see what their definitions are.  Those with time limitations should allow for extenuating circumstances and career breaks.

Remember that being an early career scholar doesn’t debar you from applying for non-early career grants – just check whether your contract type and length is valid for the particular scheme you have in mind.

Here are some definitions from the major UK funding bodies (note: these may be subject to change and you should check the funding body’s website for the latest information).


The AHRC offers funding for postgraduates, but this is administered by institutions, and you should check with them as to the application process.

The AHRC further offers specific ‘early career’ streams for its grant schemes:


You should have a doctorate awarded within the last eight years or be within six years of your first academic appointment (defined as a paid contract with research or teaching as the primary function)

British Academy

Postdoctoral fellowships


You should have had your doctorate awarded within the last three years

Quantitative skills acquisition awards


You should have had your doctorate awarded within the last ten years and be in an established academic post

Institute of Historical Research

The IHR offers several grants for postgraduates and some schemes particularly for those in the final stages of completing their PhD: http://www.history.ac.uk/fellowships/ihr-doctoral-fellowships-scouloudi-thornley-rhs

It also advertises several postdoctoral fellowships: http://www.history.ac.uk/fellowships/junior

Some of the IHR’s prizes and bursaries are also tailored to early career scholars and postgraduates: http://www.history.ac.uk/fellowships/awards

Leverhulme Trust

Early career fellowships


You should have a doctorate; have had your viva in the last five years; have not yet held or hold a full time permanent academic post in the UK or be in receipt of a stipendiary fellowship.

Research leadership awards


You should have held a university post for at least two years, but not long enough ‘for the trajectory of [your] research contribution to have become established’

Study abroad studentships


You should be a student or have been a student (excluding undergraduates) within the last eight years

Philip Leverhulme Prizes


You should be within ten years of the award of the PhD; hold a permanent post or long-term fellowship