Subscribe to our mailing list  |  Search:  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Jefferson Science Fellowship
Fellowships Office
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Applicants Fellows Contact Fellowships Home


Application Instructions

Applicants are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the work of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including information contained elsewhere on this site, to ensure a strong fit for the Fellowship year.

A complete application package should be completed online and will include the following components:

  1. Application
  2. Curriculum Vitae (limit 10 pages)
  3. Statement of Interest (1-2 pages)
  4. Two Essays (page limits indicated below)
  5. Letters of Recommendation (minimum of 3, maximum of 5)
  6. Letter of Nomination (optional - see below)

Online Application (Closed as of 5 PM EDT on October 16)
After providing basic application information on the online application (i.e., name, institution, phone number, etc.), applicants will be asked to upload the following supporting documents in PDF format: a Curriculum Vitae, a Statement of Interest, and two Essays (content and format details are described below). Applications must be submitted online to be considered in the review process. Click here to access the online application system. For browser compatibility questions, please see this webpage. If you experience technical difficulties, please contact

Curriculum Vitae (limit 10 pages) should include the following:

  • Name and Current Institutional Affiliation
  • Education (degrees, institutions, dates)
  • Academic Employment History (including dates, academic rank, and tenure)
  • Honors and Awards (list up to 10 of the most significant)
  • University Service (past 5 years)
  • Professional Society Service (past 5 years)
  • Other National or International Professional Experience
  • Peer-Reviewed Publications (no more than 5 of the 10 pages; you may indicate the total number of publications from which the list is derived)
  • Other Publications or Patents

Statement of Interest
The applicant should provide a concise (limited to two, single-spaced pages, 12-point font, 1" margins) Statement of Interest in the Jefferson Science Fellows program. In this statement, the applicant should explain what benefits they hope to derive for themselves and their university if selected for the program, including how the fellowship will benefit their university and their professional career. The applicant should include a section describing his or her interest in a Fellowship at the U.S. Department of State or USAID, describe relevant skills or experiences, and indicate any knowledge they might have of the U.S. Department of State or USAID and possible contributions they might make to different bureaus and offices therein.

The applicant should prepare two documents in response to the following prompts:  

  • COMMON ESSAY (the response to each bulleted topic should be no more than 300 words): Please provide answers to the questions below:
    • Describe a situation where you were asked to complete a task you were not trained to do. Discuss how you approached the task and the outcomes, and what you learned about your approach to problem solving.
    • Describe a time when working as part of a team was successful. What was your approach at the time, and how would you adjust in a future situation?
    • We operate in a fast-paced environment, and every person must be adaptable. Imagine a situation where your job portfolio changes entirely and you are asked to focus on a new priority. What steps would you take to adapt to this situation?
  • BRIEFING MEMO (limited to two, single-spaced pages, 12-point font, 1" margins): Prepare a briefing memo on a scientific or technological topic relevant to U.S. international development policy or programming. Assume you are working for a Bureau within the U.S. Department of State or USAID (note: knowing the mandate for the unit you have selected will help provide a reference point) and have been asked to provide a short analysis and recommendations for next steps on the topic you have chosen. Your memo should have sufficient context and clarity so that a non-scientist could understand the issue. Ensure you address the basic scientific/technological facts and context that underlie the topic, present the policy/programming options, and include your recommended action(s).

Letters of Recommendation
Applications must be accompanied by at least three (3) and no more than five (5) Letters of Recommendation from peers of the applicant. Letters of Recommendation should address the qualifications of the applicant relative to the selection criteria and are limited to two pages. In the online application, applicants will be asked to list three to five letter writers before submitting their application. It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify their letter writers through the online application system. Letter writers will receive instructions on the content of their letters and they must upload their letters via the online application module by the application deadline. The Fellowships Office will not accept hard copy letters or letters sent as e-mail attachments and will not contact any letter writers on behalf of applicants.

Letter of Nomination
Applicants are not required to be nominated by their university; however, a Letter of Nomination from a university official may be submitted as part of the application package. A Letter of Nomination is limited to two pages and should clearly indicate that it is a Letter of Nomination (not a Letter of Recommendation). Letters of Nomination will not count against the number of Letters of Recommendation that can be submitted. It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify the letter writer through the online application system. Letter writers will receive instructions on the content of their letters and they must upload their letters via the online application module by the application deadline.

Selection Process Timeline 

August 3, 2020 - Application opened

October 16, 2020 - Application deadline (5 PM ET)

October 16, 2020 - Deadline for the submission of MOUs (Fully executed MOUs will be returned to the academic institution after the deadline.)

Mid- to late October - External review of applications; initial group of finalists selected

November 2020 - Initial finalists reviewed by State and USAID for potential placements

Early December 2020
 - Finalists selected for interviews notified

January 11-15, 2021 - Finalist interviews (Interviews will be conducted virtually.) 

Late January - Final selection of Fellows (All finalists will be contacted via e-mail.)

August 16, 2021 - Jefferson Science Fellows entry on duty (pending completion of the security clearance)

Please direct all questions to or call 202-334-3478.

To the Top