Empowering communities
through impactful research.

Research fellowships

4–24 weeks

5 reasons research fellowships are for you

Generate solutions to
community challenges
Get practical
research experience
Get guidance from
expert supervisors
Use your individual
and expertise
Receive career-boosting
mentoring and support


Participant Testimonial
Participant Testimonial


Top benefits of joining a research fellowship

Help solve community challenges

Research fellowships with GVI are not just academic – our findings are always used to inform, guide and initiate real social impact projects on the ground.

All the communities we partner with across the world have their own unique circumstances, context, resources, challenges and opportunities.

At GVI, we’re unwavering about supporting and empowering existing local initiatives that are led by community organisations. With our research fellowships, it’s no different. You’ll help generate knowledge about specific topics that have been identified as priorities by the communities themselves.

By conducting qualitative research, you’ll help gather and interpret valuable data about pressing issues. You’ll also share your findings with the community to empower them to implement practical solutions alongside local NGOs and organisations.

Get guidance and support

GVI has a team of qualified support staff, expert local staff and remote academic supervisors who will support you during every step of the way of your research fellowship.

You’ll get guidance on writing your research proposal, analysing data, interpreting your findings, and writing and presenting your research report.

You’ll also get all the proper pre-departure training you need to make sure you’re ready for your expedition, program support during your fellowship, and career support afterwards.

Gain real research experience

When you join a research fellowship with GVI, you’ll be part of real community development research projects on the ground.

You’ll work with local partners and social impact experts on your research project, and learn how to use different qualitative field research methodologies in practice.

You’ll also get the opportunity to step away from the textbooks and theories, and get exposure to real community challenges on the ground. 

Use your individual skills and experience

We know that you might have particular interests and/or specific skills and experience in certain fields that you are passionate about.

During your research fellowship, we’ll be happy to adapt your experiences to your individual interests and expertise to make a difference in a specific way. 

Be sure to let us know what your unique skills or interests are to ensure we match you with a project that will benefit from your time and talents.

Add to your academic qualifications

When you complete a research fellowship with GVI, you’ll greatly boost your academic and professional development.


To empower you to launch into your community development career directly after your program, you’ll get access to the following:

  • Research Fellowship Program certificate
  • Subject Area Foundation certificate
  • Leading Teams of Impact course certificate
  • Careers in Sustainable Development course certificate
  • One-on-one mentoring sessions
  • Advanced leadership training
  • Research methods training
  • Job portal access
  • Career coaching sessions
  • LinkedIn reference


All of our online courses are accredited by the University of Richmond and are offered at no extra cost to your standard program fees. 

Remote career coaching sessions

Another valuable, practical advantage of doing a research fellowship with GVI is that you get a remote career mentor.


Your mentor will organise two online sessions with you where you can ask them any questions about your career. They’ll also be keen to:

  • give you feedback on your CV
  • assist you with communicating your GVI experience on LinkedIn and your CV
  • help you practise for interviews
  • assist you in mapping out your career goals
  • give advice on job searching
  • give you general career advice.


Job guarantee

Everyone that completes a research fellowship with GVI gets a job guarantee in the sustainable development industry within 18 months of successfully completing a 6-month program. 

We’re certain that you’ll land a job in the sector after your fellowship with us, that’s why we’ll give you a 50% refund of your program fees if you don’t. 

You’ll also become part of GVI’s alumni and get preferential recruitment if a GVI role becomes available.

What type of research fellowships are there?

GVI offers two types of research fellowships – depending on your academic goals, personal needs and interest. 

The main question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to support existing research initiatives, or pursue your own specific topic relating to community priorities. 

Your answer will determine which of these two focuses will suit you best:

1.Flagship research project

Each of GVI’s hubs around the world has a specific set of community development challenges that we are aiming to address through research, in partnership with local organisations.

One of your research fellowship options is to join one of these existing flagship research projects to help conduct qualitative research that will add new data and findings to help generate social impact solutions.

If you don’t feel strongly about a specific field of research or topic, we invite you to join forces with one of our flagship projects and contribute to collaborative impact in this way.

2. Independent research project

Do you have a keen interest in a particular community development field or have an existing research topic? If your topic aligns with one of our community’s needs, you can pursue your own research through an independent project.

You are welcome to use your research fellowship to complete your thesis or dissertation by tapping into the resources GVI has available, which include: academic supervisors, datasets, mentoring and existing partnerships with local organisations.

Where can you join research fellowships in community development?

At GVI, we have permanent hubs and staff on many different continents across the world. And although all our community development bases offer basic research initiatives, only selected hubs are specialised enough to offer you in-depth research fellowships.


Here are some of the GVI locations where you can join research fellowships:


We know that it can be very difficult to only choose one of these incredible locations. You can always request a callback from one of our team members to talk you through the different programs.

Important questions about your research fellowship

How do I select the right fellowship program for me?

Looking for a research fellowship that aligns with your interests and goals? GVI offers hundreds of programs and research topics, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

If you’re unsure about selecting your research type, topic or location – submit an enquiry or request a callback to get in touch.

You can also speak to GVI’s impact director, who can pre-approve your research topic, suggest alternative topics or locations, and even provide you with sample research topics and data sets.

Will I get paid during the research fellowship?

Although a research fellowship with GVI is not paid, like with some graduate fellowships at universities, it comes with an excellent level of support. Our team provides valuable training, supervision, guidance, mentoring – and access to exclusive datasets to help you complete your studies. 

You can also conduct your own research for an individual project, which will need to be approved by GVI’s impact director. And, you’ll have the opportunity to publish your papers, which holds many benefits for everyone involved.

Why should I join a GVI research fellowship?

With GVI, you’ll not only be meeting your research requirements in a supportive and structured environment, but you’ll contribute to real solutions to help solve real community challenges.

You’ll also get to collaborate with other researchers and changemakers across GVI’s locations, as well as expand your professional network and make lifelong international friendships.

With over 25 years of experience in field research, we’ll connect you to an appropriate topic of research and remote academic supervisor to suit your individual skills and expertise.

You’ll also get access to existing datasets, which means you don’t have to collect the same data to complete your studies, where relevant. 

What’s included in my program fees?

GVI’s program fees cover a range of benefits including pre-departure support and materials, food, accommodation, training and orientation with long-term GVI field staff, 24-hour in-country support, and project equipment.

You’ll also receive pre-program training; GVI online courses (endorsed by the University of Richmond); a remote academic supervisor; and support to complete a research paper, dissertation or thesis. 

When you complete the fellowship, you’ll also get a LinkedIn reference and get access to a job portal of available roles in conservation and sustainable development.

What is the duration of research fellowships?

GVI offers flexible duration options for their fellowship programs, which can run between 4 and 24 weeks. 

Do I need any experience or qualifications?

You don’t need any prior experience or qualifications, as GVI’s trained field team will provide you with all the necessary training.

Can I apply for a bursary?

GVI does not provide academic bursaries for their programs, but you can apply for independent financial aid such as student loans to cover the program fees. Please note that the fees from GVI’s programs provide important funding to sustain their projects on the ground.

Can I get a job with GVI after my fellowship?

Yes! After you’ve completed your program, you’ll gain access to GVI’s online job portal. This is where you’ll find the latest job postings for a variety of international development work. 

As a research fellow with GVI, you will have preference for any GVI role you apply for, and you can even skip the CV queue. If you’re interested in continuing to make a positive impact in the world, a career with GVI could be the next step for you!

Can I keep my research and data collected?

GVI’s staff and participants conduct research on behalf of our community development partners which include local and international organisations, NGOs and government. 

That’s why all of the data, reports, photographs and documentation that you collect on your GVI program remain the intellectual property of the partner that you’re collecting data for, and can’t be kept.

In the published papers, you’ll be listed as an author or co-author who contributed to the research on behalf of or in co-authorship with the entity that has the research rights. GVI is unfortunately not an independent research organisation and can’t assign these rights to our participants.

What approval and permission do I need to publish my paper?

We appreciate your desire to share your research and scientific papers with others – and encourage it. However, before any data can be used, you’ll need to get permission from GVI and our partners. 

Please note that no monetary compensation will be provided to you for any data or research you collect. We encourage you to use your research to make a collective positive impact and help us achieve our mission of creating sustainable development solutions around the world.

There’s no better time than now. Make it happen!

Up to 20% off when you book and pay by 30 June

Conduct research to enable social change

Experience qualitative
research methodologies
Get exposure to
developmental challenges
Learn how to collect
and analyse data
Interpret findings and
share with the community

Choose between two types of research projects

Flagship research project
Contribute to existing, ongoing research projects and assist GVI and our partners with general conservation monitoring efforts.
Independent research project
Complete your studies by conducting your own research that aligns with the topics and data that GVI and our partners have available.

Community projects with local partners

Women’s empowerment research in Nepal

Determine the effectiveness of workshops through focus groups, observation, assessments and more.

Dawasamu district nurse
Early Childhood Development research in Fiji

Analyse the impact of educational programs through participatory research, interviews and more.

Phang Nga health practitioners
Public health research in Thailand

Ascertain the impact of health workshops using participatory interviews, visual tools and more.

Women’s empowerment research in Nepal

Determine the effectiveness of workshops through focus groups, observation, assessments and more.

Dawasamu district nurse
Early Childhood Development research in Fiji

Analyse the impact of educational programs through participatory research, interviews and more.

Phang Nga health practitioners
Public health research in Thailand

Ascertain the impact of health workshops using participatory interviews, visual tools and more.


Match your skills to

community needs.

Join a project where your experience will be adapted to your individual interests and expertise and address community priorities.
Guided by expert supervisors

Refilwe Mokoena

Masters in Public and Development Sector Monitoring and Evaluation, University of the Witwatersrand

Refilwe has worked in international development for more than 15 years. She is a specialist in developing and implementing impact management frameworks, and using participatory appraisal approaches. She is currently the social impact director at GVI and served on the board of directors of the Small Enterprise Foundation as well as the Change Agents Network of South Africa.

Dr. Bryan McAllister-Grande

Ed.D. and M.Ed in Higher Education, Harvard University

Dr McAllister-Grande has been researching, teaching and working in education for over 20 years. As a scholar of education, his work focuses on the history and internationalisation of curricula and the politics of knowledge. He is currently the director for Academic Integration and Planning at Northeastern University in Boston.

Dr. Lindi van Niekerk

Academic Fellow

Dr Lindi van Niekerk is an international social innovation strategist. She leverages her background as a medical doctor, researcher and communications professional to help organisations pioneer initiatives, raise the voices of community leaders and influence policy. Her deep understanding of health systems helps to ensure organisations deliver on their impact objectives.

Grow personally, develop professionally

Leadership skills
  • Project management
  • Critical thinking
  • Resilience
  • Time management
Soft skills
  • Cultural awareness
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
Development skills
  • Qualitative & participatory research methods
  • Data collection
  • Community engagement
  • Data analysis, reporting and visualisation

Launch your career in social impact

When you complete an internship of 12+ weeks, we guarantee you’ll secure an impact-driven position within 18 months (or we’ll return 50% of your program fee). View our career guarantee.

Research Fellowship
Program Certificate
Subject Area
Foundation Certificate
Leading Teams for Impact
Careers in Sustainable
Development Certificate
Research Fellowship
Program Certificate
Subject Area
Foundation Certificate
Leading Teams for Impact
Careers in Sustainable
Development Certificate
You'll also get:
  • Weekly group sessions
  • Research supervisor guidance
  • Research fellowship training
  • Job portal access
  • Career coaching sessions
  • Career course
  • LinkedIn reference
Don't just travel like a tourist.
Live like a local.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Dawasamu, Fiji

Accra, Ghana

Nosy Be, Madagascar

Pokhara, Nepal

Cape Town, South Africa

Phang Nga, Thailand
4–24 weeks

Work remotely on real projects for conservation partners.

2-12 weeks

Use your skills to enable community solutions.

24 weeks

Get a three month placement to work for a community partner.

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