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Doctoral Training Grant competition

The MRC Doctoral Training Grant (DTG) Competition provides research organisations who have historically received intermediate levels of DTG funds the opportunity to apply for a more substantial DTG allocation.


Doctoral Training Grants (DTGs) were introduced by the MRC in 2004 in order to provide research organisations with maximum flexibility in managing their postgraduate studentship population. DTGs are awarded as cash sums to research organisations, based on their MRC grant and fellowship income and can be used solely or in combination with other funds to support research studentships with varied stipends, durations and other costs.


The MRC is not able to provide studentships on a large scale to meet all needs. Our aim is to develop research leaders of the future and to help meet UK strategic skills needs. The MRC expects these priorities to be reflected in a selective approach by the individual research organisations using the MRC DTG.


Following a review of the DTG scheme, in 2009 MRC raised the threshold at which research organisations automatically receive a Doctoral Training Grant (DTG) from the equivalent of 0.5 of a studentship to the equivalent of three studentships. Research organisations that fall below the three notional studentships threshold will no longer receive a DTG automatically and will instead be invited to apply for a DTG through competition.


Research organisations with a DTG that is above the three notional studentship threshold will continue to receive their DTG by automatic allocation (based on grant and fellowship income).


DTG competition aims

The MRC recognises that research organisations in receipt of intermediate levels of MRC funding, which fall below the threshold for an automatic DTG allocation may have particular strengths, interdisciplinary opportunities, or local infrastructure that provide unique and exciting opportunities for excellent research training. The DTG competition has been launched for this group of research organisations.


The aim of the Doctoral Training Grant competition is to:

  • Deliver MRC studentship funding effectively, efficiently and flexibly;
  • Help research organisations with intermediate levels of MRC funding to address specific strategic research skills needs;
  • Target DTG studentships to research organisations with outstanding and distinctive research and training strengths.


Funding available

Research organisations will be able to apply for a cash sum equivalent to the value of three, 3.5 year notional studentships per year..


Research organisations awarded a DTG by competition can continue to use their DTG flexibly, for example by:

  • Increasing the student stipend above the RCUK-set minimum;
  • Providing support for up to four years if a studentship project requires it;
  • Part-funding awards, for example with industry or other Research Councils.



The DTG competition will focus on distinguishing research organisations which offer a distinctive research training environment that builds on the organisation’s scientific strategy and strengths. It is anticipated that all research organisations will have ‘good’ systems for delivering research training. Therefore it is essential that applications highlight how their organisation can offer unique opportunities for excellent PhD studentship provision.


Competition process & research organisation eligibility

As in previous years, an algorithm has been used to calculate each research organisation’s potential DTG allocation, based on outstanding MRC peer-reviewed fellowship and research grant income.


Following completion of the DTG algorithm verification process a list of organisations eligible to apply for the 2011 round of the DTG competition is available here.


Research organisation eligibility:

  • Research organisations whose DTG equates to less than the value of three notional studentships but is more than 0.5 of a studentship will be eligible to apply for the DTG competition.
  • Research organisations whose DTG equates to more than the value of three notional studentships will be allocated an automatic DTG, and will be ineligible to apply to the DTG competition.
  • Research organisations whose DTG would be below 0.5 of studentship will be ineligible to apply to the DTG competition.


Only one application may be submitted per research organisation. As such potential applicants are advised to liaise with the appropriate administrative office at their institution (for example post-graduate training coordinator, grants office, etc).


Deadlines and submission details

The deadline for submission of applications to the 2011 round of the DTG competition will be Tuesday 14th June 2011.


Applications should be submitted through the Je-S application system.


Please note that all eligible research organisations have now been invited to submit a DTG competition proposal. Applications submitted by research organisations, who have not met the DTG competition eligibility criteria will not be accepted.



If you have a query regarding studentships, please contact the programme manager below:

Contact: Dr Joanna Robinson


For grant maintenance queries, please contact:

Research Funding Policy and Delivery



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