Major developments in governmental research and development (R&D) funding are associated with the emergence of programs as funding instruments. Programs include an explicit mission for R&D, scientific priorities, procedures for attaining funding, and a budget that also contains regulations for monitoring and evaluation. The aim of this chapter is to give a broad overview of the main theoretical underpinnings and advancements dealing with programs as instruments of governmental R&D policy. It seeks to explore two questions: what is the role of programs in government funding of R&D? How can we understand programs theoretically and design frameworks to empirically study them? The chapter illustrates the diversity and complex nature of R&D programs, as well as the strategies and objectives they reveal, the actors implementing the programs and the modes of implementation. New conceptual framings and methodological approaches are supported by examples of recent and currently developing empirical data and infrastructures to investigate the diversity of funding programs.