DO NOT APPLY THROUGH HANDSHAKE. YOU MUST APPLY AT THE PICKERING SITE DIRECTLY.
Interested in a career serving U.S. interests abroad? If so, the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellowship offers a unique opportunity to promote positive change in the world. Upon successful completion of a two-year master’s degree program and fulfillment of fellowship and Foreign Service entry requirements, fellows have the opportunity to work as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Department of State, in accordance with applicable law and State Department policy, serving in Washington, DC or at a U.S. embassy, consulate, or diplomatic mission around the globe.
The Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellowship is a U.S. Department of State program administered by Howard University that seeks to attract and prepare outstanding young people, who represent ethnic, gender, social, and geographic diversity and have an interest in pursuing a Foreign Service career in the U.S. Department of State. The Program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, women, and those with financial need.
This is a highly selective program. To be eligible to participate, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.
- Seek admission to a two-year, full-time, on-campus, master’s degree program at a U.S.-based graduate institution to begin in the fall of 2022 in an academic field relevant to the work of the Foreign Service (public policy, international affairs, public administration, business, economics, political science, management science, organizational development/leadership, sociology, or regional studies).
The Pickering Program plans to award 45 fellowships of up to $42,000 annually for a two-year period for tuition, room, board, books, and mandatory fees for completion of two-year master’s degrees. This includes up to $24,000 per year for tuition and mandatory fees and an academic year stipend of $18,000.
Fellows must obtain graduate degrees in international affairs or a related subject such as public administration, public policy, international relations, business administration, economics, history, political science, communications, or foreign languages at a graduate school approved by the Pickering Program. Law degrees do not satisfy this requirement. Fellows are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2 throughout their period of study. Applicants apply to two-year graduate programs at U.S.-based universities simultaneously with their application to the Pickering Program.
Fellows will participate in an orientation at Howard University in early June. The purpose of this orientation is to familiarize the Fellows with all aspects of the fellowship and to enhance their understanding of, and skills for, Foreign Service careers.
Two Summer Internships (Domestic and Overseas)
Fellows will participate in two internships. The first, an internship working at the U.S. Department of State headquarters in Washington, DC, will occur in the summer in between their first and second year of graduate study. The second internship will be an overseas placement in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate that takes place during the summer after fellows’ graduation. The program provides additional support for summer travel, housing, and other related expenses.
Fellows will receive mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer for the duration of the fellowship.
Employment and Contractual Obligations
Fellows who successfully complete the Pickering Program and Foreign Service entry requirements will receive appointments in the State Department Foreign Service in accordance with applicable law and State Department policy. Fellows are required to obtain and maintain medical, security, and suitability clearances in order to remain in the program. Each Fellow who obtains a master’s degree is committed to a minimum of five years of service in the Foreign Service. Candidates who do not successfully complete the Pickering Program and the subsequent five-year service obligation may be subject to a reimbursement obligation. Visit the Fellow Obligation page to learn more about the obligations that Fellows assume when they accept the fellowship.
Completed applications will include the following materials:
Personal background information (e.g., name, contact information, language skills).
A personal statement (600 words or less) that discusses the applicants’ reasons for applying, interest in international affairs, commitment to pursue a career in the Foreign Service of the Department of State, and any relevant experience or information.
Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can explain why you are uniquely qualified for the fellowship. One letter must be from a professor, faculty member, or instructor. The other letter may be from someone else familiar with your college, volunteer, work, or community activities.
- Note: Applicants will include contact information for recommenders in the online application. Recommenders will be sent an email with instructions to submit letters electronically.
- Recommendation Form
A statement of financial need (400 words or less) that discusses the applicant’s need for financial assistance to attend graduate school, including an explanation of financial assistance received during undergraduate studies; overall education-related debt; and, ability/plans to pay for graduate school independently.
Official financial aid award letter from the applicant’s last year of undergraduate studies if she/he received financial aid. Applicants must submit a Financial Aid Letter listing grants or loans unless they did not receive aid.
FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) for the 2021-2022 academic year. If an applicant received financial aid during the most recent academic year, she/he is required to submit the SAR form. If an applicant did not receive financial aid during the most recent academic year, she/he must complete the FAFSA to generate a SAR for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Proof of U.S. citizenship, which may include a copy of (choose one) a U.S. passport, birth certificate, or certificate of naturalization.
**Applicants are required to bring originals to the interview if selected as a finalist.
Transcripts from all colleges and universities the applicant has attended for credit. Please upload university-generated transcripts. An official transcript would be best; a student copy is acceptable if it is in the format of an official transcript (must list your name, institution name, and most recent/final GPA).
**If you are selected for an interview, you will have to bring an official transcript in a signed, sealed envelope, to the interview.
A copy of GRE/GMAT scores report sent to the student (optional).
Dates and Deadlines
Specific dates for the 2022 Pickering Fellowship are included below.
- Application Closes: September 22, 2021
- Finalists Notified: Late-October 2021
- Final Round to Select Fellows: November 15-19, 2021
- Award Offers Made to 45 Finalists: November 19, 2021
The Pickering selection panel will choose approximately 90 finalists by the end of October. Program staff will communicate decisions by email to both successful and unsuccessful applicants by the end of October. Candidates selected for final consideration will be invited to interview and complete a written exercise virtually. Finalists will participate in the final round, which includes an interview and writing exercise, between November 15-19, 2021. The program will complete the selection process and make offers to 45 fellows by late November 2021.
For more information, including an FAQ section, visit: https://pickeringfellowship.org/
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