Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: There will be no Fellowship Program in Winter/Spring 2013. Information regarding the Fall 2013 Program will be posted in April 2013.
About the Program
Unit Selection/About the National Academies
About the Program
What do former Fellows say about the program?
How are Fellows selected?
Why is a Fellowship Program needed?
Scientists and engineers with PhDs and other advanced degrees play a central and growing role in American industrial and commercial life. We increasingly depend on people with advanced scientific and technological knowledge in our collective efforts in developing new technologies and industries, reducing environmental pollution, combating disease and hunger, developing new sources of energy, and maintaining the competitiveness of industry. The traditional process of graduate education to the doctoral level, organized around an intensive research experience, has served as a world model for the advanced training of scientists and engineers. However, the majority of PhDs will not enter academic life and many will not become researchers. Thus, graduate students in science and engineering as well as in related professions need additional experiences to broaden their horizons.
Where is the location of the Fellowship Program?
The Fellowships will take place in Washington, D.C. at one of the National Academies facilities. In general, Fellows will be located at the Keck Center, 500 5th Street, NW in downtown Washington, DC, near the Verizon Center and Metro Center. Fellows may also be located in the National Academy of Science Building, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, across the street from the Department of State.
How competitive is the program?
The program is very competitive with generally less than 10% of applicants selected. There used to be fewer applicants for the winter and fall sessions than the summer program, but usually the applicants are further along in their educational experience, making competition for all sessions very high. The number of applicants has been increasing each year.
What are the application deadline dates?
The deadline for receipt of references/recommendations and applications are not the same. References are due a week before the application deadline. Refer to the "How to Apply" section of this website for a list of deadline dates. Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to follow up with reference writers to ensure that the recommendation is received by the deadline date. You will NOT be able to submit your application until BOTH references have been received. Formal letters of recommendation will NOT be accepted.
Can I do a shortened Fellowship?
No. Fellows must fulfill the 12-week term and be available to start on the first scheduled day of Orientation. Any request for scheduled leave (personal or professional) during the term of the Fellowship must be approved prior to acceptance to the Mirzayan Fellowship Program. Fellows may, at their mentor’s request, be extended beyond the official term for up to three weeks and may be compensated at the current weekly stipend level. Decisions regarding extensions will not be made until midway through the program.
Are these Fellowships available every year?
Continuance of the program is reviewed periodically and based on available funding. It is difficult to determine if funding will be available in the future, but the program has been funded since 1997. Sign-up for our mailing list to be notified of session dates for each calendar year.
Am I eligible for the program?
How do I apply?
Is graduate experience considered work?
No, it is not. Graduate work such as working as a TA or RA is part of your graduate education and is not considered work experience for the purpose of the Fellowship application, so we suggest you do not list it. If you are still unsure, go ahead and list the experience.
Can I reapply for the program?
Yes, you can reapply to the program. If you wish to apply to the current session and used the Scholar Select system, login using your existing username and password. All information has been carried over from your previous Scholar Select application except for unit selections, demographics, and immigration/visa documents; information in these sections must be re-entered/uploaded. Previously "Received" references have also been retained. You must log in as a "Returning Applicant" or all previous data will be lost.
When will the prospective candidates be informed of their acceptance?
Most candidates selected for interviews will be notified within three to six weeks of the application deadline, but there are circumstances that extend this period. For instance, we do frequently have one or two individuals selected for the program who withdraw their application for professional or personal reasons. Late withdrawals can make early notification difficult. As a result, an applicant may be selected for the program beyond the six-week period. Applicants not selected will be notified when the selection process is complete (approximately two months after the application deadline).
Does the Fellowship Program provide scholarship money or other funding for research or continuing education?
No. This program does not fund research, award scholarships, or provide financial aid assistance of any kind. If you are awarded a 12-week Mirzayan Fellowship, then a stipend/grant will be provided to offset expenses during the Fellowship period which takes place in Washington, DC.
Is this program considered employment?
No, the program is a short-term (12-week) fellowship opportunity and offers hands-on training and education in science and technology policy.
What is the amount of the stipend/grant?
For the 2012 sessions, the stipend/grant for the 12-week program is $8,240. The Fellowship stipend/grant is intended to offset living expenses for the period and not intended as a way to earn money.
Note that Fellows may at their and their mentor’s option be extended beyond the official session’s term on a case-by-case basis. Fellows may be compensated at the current weekly stipend/grant level for the extension period. This decision will not be made until midway through the program. Extensions will not be made past the start date of the next Fellowship Program session.
When do I get my stipend if I am accepted to the program?
The stipend is paid out in one installment during the first week of the program.
Do I get travel expenses?
No. The stipend was raised from $5300 to $8240 to help offset additional expenses.
Unit Selection/About the National Academies
What opportunities can I pursue in the Fellowship Program?
Please see the Available Units/Boards page for a listing of all the program units that may be accepting Fellows. You should be sure to look at the web page for each unit to gain a better understanding of their activities and active studies.
Will all units participate each session?
No. All units may not participate each session, and we have no way to confirm this ahead of time. There are a limited number of unit slots available per Division, and allocation of slots are not determined until after the application deadline. You may apply for up to four units, and we highly encourage you to select the maximum number allowable.
Will the Fellowship be in my particular area of expertise (e.g., molecular biology, cultural anthropology in Africa, etc.)?
Not necessarily. While we try to place Fellows in one of the units of their choice, the purpose of this Fellowship Program is to broaden the Fellow's experience. A prospective applicant should not apply for the program if they are only willing to work in their field of study. Additionally, although we do our best to determine what activities/projects will be active during the Fellowship, they may change even in the few months between your interview and the Fellowship. If you are interested in only working in a very specific policy area, then this Fellowship is not the right one for you. The Washington D.C. policy environment is such that you may be asked to work on any science and technology policy issue.
Who are the Academies?
Learn who we are
Learn what we do
Download NRC Organizational Chart
Are the National Academies part of a government agency?
No. The National Academy of Sciences was created by the federal government to be an adviser on scientific and technological matters, but is not part of the Federal government. The Academy complex now consists of four organizations: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. The National Academy of Sciences was created in 1863 by a congressional charter approved by President Abraham Lincoln. Under this charter, the National Research Council was established in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970.
The Academy and its associated organizations (the NRC, NAE, and IOM) are private, nongovernmental, organizations and do not receive direct federal appropriations for their work. Studies undertaken for the government by the Academy complex usually are funded out of appropriations made available to federal agencies. The great majority of the studies carried out by the Academy complex are at the request of government agencies.
How many references do I need?
Two online references/recommendations are now required to complete the application process for the Fall 2012 session. References must pertain to your academic, professional, or other work-related experience. You will NOT be able to submit your application until BOTH references have been received. Formal letters of recommendation will NOT be accepted.
Can a reference that was submitted prior to the Winter 2012 session be transferred to the new (Scholar Select) application system?
Unfortunately, no. References submitted for sessions in 2011 or earlier can NOT be uploaded to the new application system. A new reference will need to be submitted if you reapply to a future program session.
How will my reference writers be notified?
Once you complete the reference section of the application and provide your reference writers' contact information, an automated email request will be sent to your reference writer (mentor, supervisor, professional) once you enter their contact informatio and move on to the next page. Be sure to provide your reference writer as much lead time as possible to ensure their reference is submitted before the deadline line.
Please alert your reference writers that they will receive an automated "Information Request" email from Scholar Select/Mirzayan S&T Policy Fellowship Program. This email will contain a unique link to a recommendation form to be completed on your behalf. An email confirmation will be sent to you when a recommendation has been received. To ensure delivery of the recommendation request, you may wish to ask your reference writer(s) to add "firstname.lastname@example.org" to their contacts, email address book, or safe senders list.
Where can I find more information about housing?
Selected Mirzayan Fellows will be responsible for obtaining housing, but the Program Office will provide additional guidance. Your best option is to use any local connections you might have. Many universities throughout DC, Virginia, and Maryland offer suggestions for off-campus housing. Locating housing during the winter and fall sessions can be challenging, but rooms in private homes and sublets are available year-round.
Fellow alumni have found that the best source of housing information is on Craigslist, as well as the Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University web sites. George Washington University is the closest to The National Academies buildings.
Visit our housing page for a more complete listing of housing resources and visitor's information websites.
What if I can't attend the entire orientation program and need to miss a day?
Acceptance to the program is contingent on attending orientation in its entirety.