Career Development (K) Awards

AHRQ sponsors several career development awards intended to foster the career development of promising new investigators in the field of health services research. These programs provide salary and research support for a sustained period of time for early career clinicians and research scientists.

Only U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or permanent residents are eligible for this award. In addition, applicants must be willing to spend a minimum of 75% of their time developing their research careers, and they must identify a primary mentor with extensive health services research experience, history of Federal funding, and experience mentoring others.

Career development awards are provided for a period of 3 to 5 years. Grantees with a 5-year AHRQ career development award who receive subsequent Federal funding in the role of project PI, may opt to reduce their AHRQ career development award effort during the last two years, as long as a minimum of 50% time is maintained.

Program Who Should
Consider Applying
Doctoral Degree Requirement

AHRQ Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08)

Early career clinician-researchers with interests in health services research and little-to-moderate research training.

Clinical Doctorate
(MD, DO, DDS, PharmD, or other clinical doctorate)

AHRQ Mentored Research Scientist Research Career Development Award (K01)

Early career research-scientists with interests in health services research.

Research Doctorate or Professional Doctorate
(PhD, ScD, DrPH, or other professional doctorate)












Application receipt dates are February 12, June 12, and October 12 annually.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are my research aims of interest to AHRQ?

Applications for career development awards must be responsive to AHRQ's mission, which is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable and affordable, and to work with HHS and other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used. Within the mission, AHRQ’s specific priority areas of focus are:

  • Research to improve health care patient safety.
  • Harnessing data and technology to improve health care quality and patient outcomes and to provide a 360-degree view of the patient.
  • Research to increase accessibility and affordability of health care by examining innovative market approaches to care delivery and financing.

Please review the Research Objectives or Research Career Training Objectives section (under Section I of the funding opportunity announcement (FOA)) to note additional guidance. After reviewing this information, contact the AHRQ program officer listed below for further consultation.

What is the role of the mentor on a K award?

The mentor on a K award serves to supervise the candidate’s proposed career development plan and research experience. The mentor should be an active investigator in the candidate’s proposed research area with a successful track record of mentoring. The mentor should be committed both to the candidate’s career development plan and to the direct supervision of the candidate’s research.

Can I have more than one mentor?

Yes. Candidates can identify more than one mentor as appropriate to the goals of the program. In such cases, one primary mentor must be identified, who, with the candidate, will jointly coordinate the candidate’s research and career development plan. The primary mentor should have a history of Federal support, an extensive health services research publication record, and experience mentoring others. Ideally, the primary mentor should also be located at the same institution as the candidate. Also, candidates can identify a secondary mentor who possesses a skill set that is particularly relevant for the proposed research and who also has a history of Federal support and publication activity.

What are the salary and budget limits of AHRQ-supported career development awards?

AHRQ provides up to $90,000 salary (plus fringe benefits) and up to $25,000 for supplies and research-related expenses. Please review the funding opportunity announcement for additional details.

What time commitment do I need to devote to my K award?

Candidates must commit a minimum of nine-person months (75% of full-time professional effort) toward conducting research career development activities associated with this award for up to five years. The remaining three-person months (25% effort) can be divided among other research, clinical and teaching activities only if these activities are consistent with the goals of the specific K award.

Previously Funded K Awards

AHRQ's Project Research Online Database (PROD) provides a listing of previously funded career development award grants for K01 and K08 awards.

Program Contact

Tamara D. Willis, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Division of Research Education
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Telephone: (301) 427-1011
Email address:



Page last reviewed August 2018
Page originally created September 2015
Internet Citation: Career Development (K) Awards. Content last reviewed August 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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