Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship


What is the Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship?

The Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship provides funding to participants as they are prepared academically and professionally to enter the United States Department of State Foreign Service. It seeks to recruit talented students in academic programs relevant to international affairs, political and economic analysis, administration, management, and science policy. The goal is to attract outstanding students from all ethnic, racial, and social backgrounds who have an interest in pursuing a Foreign Service career in the U.S. Department of State. The Program develops a source of trained men and women from academic disciplines representing the skill needs of the Department, who are dedicated to representing America's interests abroad. Women, members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, and students with financial need are encouraged to apply.

Who is eligible to apply?
  1. Only United States citizens will be considered.
  2. Applicants must be in the junior year of undergraduate study.
  3. Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.
  4. A cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale must be maintained throughout participation in the program.
What is the selection process?

There are two portions of the selection process for the Pickering fellowship. The first is the online application, which seeks to identify qualified applicants who, in addition to outstanding leadership skills and academic achievement, demonstrate financial need. The application requires exhibition of strength of undergraduate course work, demonstration of financial need, college honors and awards, and a personal statement.

The second portion of the selection process is the interview and written exam. Finalists will attend an interview session in Princeton, NJ or Washington, DC. Transportation will be paid to the interview site. During this time, there are two processes that finalists go through: an interview with a panel of three judges, and a written essay exam on a topic that deals with current events, international affairs, public policy, etc.

Inductees will attend an Orientation in Washington, D.C. Medical and security clearances will be required for program participation.

What is the deadline of the Pickering Fellowship and how do I access it?
The deadline for the application is February 7, 2013, and is available online.


What do I need to apply to the Pickering Fellowship?

A completed application for the Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship includes both an online application form, which requires secure registration at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Web site, and a series of hard-copy supporting documents, as follows:

  • Certification of U.S. citizenship: copy of U.S. passport, birth certificate, or U.S. citizen naturalization papers
  • Copy of SAT scores
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official academic transcripts from every undergraduate school attended
  • Two page resumé

In addition:

  • All applicants who receive(d) financial aid must also provide a copy of their most recent financial aid letter that lists grants or loans. They must also provide a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR), which indicates the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) number. The SAR is generated from the submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
How many fellowships are awarded each year?

The number of fellowships will be determined by available funding.

What are the components of the fellowship, and what are the program awards?

The fellowship award includes tuition, room, board, and mandatory fees during the junior and senior years of college and during the first year of graduate study. Each year’s award also includes reimbursement for books and for travel (one round trip per academic year, up to a set maximum amount).

Fellow must commit to pursuing a master’s degree in international studies at one of the graduate schools participating in the program. Participating graduate schools provide financial support in the second year of graduate study based on need.

In addition to these awards, the program components include:

  • Junior Year Summer Institute: Attendance is required between the junior and senior years of college at a summer institute based at a graduate school of public policy and international affairs participating in the Pickering program. The typical seven-week institute curriculum consists of course work in economics, calculus, and policy analysis, with exercises to develop oral and written communication skills. Institute participants include students from a number of public policy and international affairs fellowship programs.
  • Two Summer Internships: Fellows must participate in one overseas and one domestic summer internship within the U.S. Department of State. Students receive a stipend during the internships.
  • Core Curriculum: Undergraduate course work must be completed in the following or the equivalent: English composition, western civilization, U.S. political systems, principles of economics, U.S. history, modern non-western history, comparative politics, international trade or world finance or economic development, and geography.
  • Mentoring: Guidance from a Foreign Service officer is provided during the graduate school segment of the program.
  • Testing: Fellows must meet Department of State Foreign Service entry requirements.
  • Contractual Agreement: Each successful candidate is obligated to a minimum of four-and-one-half years’ service in an appointment as a Foreign Service officer.
What is the timeline of the notification process?

Finalists should expect to hear back by mid-April. Interviews and the written exam generally take place in early May, and selected fellows should expect to hear back by mid- to late- May.  

If I am selected as a Pickering fellow, will I be able to apply to other scholarships/fellowships?

With the exception of any scholarship/fellowship that will provide money for your tuition, board, and/or books, Pickering fellows are generally allowed to apply to other programs.  However, fellows MAY NOT accept additional scholarships that will pay for books, and tuition and board.

What if I somehow fail to meet the fellowship requirements following my selection into the program?

Candidates who do not successfully complete the fellowship program and Foreign Service entry requirements may be subject to a reimbursement obligation to the Department of State.