“Just as in the days of Franklin and Jefferson, American scientists and diplomats share a common goal today: They both seek to apply the best knowledge we have to the most significant challenges we face. This is the spirit of science. This is the spirit of freedom that animates America and inspires our thinkers and scientists to improve the lives of their fellow human beings. I look to our new Jefferson Fellows and to all the men and women of America's scientific community to help us in government build a safer, healthier and better world.”
– Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2004
Established in 2003 by the Secretary of State, the Jefferson Science Fellowships serve as an innovative model for engaging the American science, engineering, and medical communities in the U.S. foreign policy and international development process through a one-year immersive experience at the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Jefferson Science Fellowships are a mutually beneficial partnership between government and participating U.S. academic institutions. These fellowships are open to tenured, or similarly ranked, faculty from U.S. institutions of higher learning who are U.S. citizens. After successfully obtaining a security clearance, Fellows are embedded in an office at the U.S. Department of State or USAID where they can expect to learn the foreign policy and international development process while contributing their technical expertise to policy formulation and implementation.
Fellows can expect to become conversant in the operations and processes of the U.S. Department of State or USAID and will complement and enhance existing staff while being provided the opportunity to contribute their expertise on teams managing rapidly evolving foreign policy and international development issues. Fellow placements vary each year and are designed in consultation with host offices within the U.S. Department of State or USAID.
After completing the fellowship, faculty return to an academic career with a deeper understanding of the impact of science and technology in foreign policy, diplomacy, and international development to augment their research and teaching. Upon mutual agreement, Fellows may remain consultants for their host office, further strengthening the partnership between government and the U.S. academic community.
Recruiting Fellows who reflect the diversity of the American people is a high priority. America’s diversity is a source of strength that few countries can match. The more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible the diplomatic and international development communities, the stronger, smarter, and more creative the response will be to the challenges of the 21st Century.
As we celebrate 20 years of the Jefferson Science Fellowships, we again extend the call to serve to the academic scientific community. Additional information on the Jefferson Science Fellowships activities can be found here.
Select the sponsoring agencies below to learn more about host office placements for the Jefferson Science Fellowships.
The Jefferson Science Fellowships (JSF) are managed at the U.S. Department of State by the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary (STAS) and administered by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The JSF is a mutually beneficial, public-private partnership between the U.S. Government and academic institutions that brings tenured professors to work at the U.S. Department of State for one year. Fellows provide the U.S. Department of State access to scientific and technical expertise and the opportunity to leverage the broad scientific and professional networks in academia. In turn, the Fellow's academic institution benefits from the insights in foreign policy and diplomacy gained by their senior faculty. Fellows may remain available as consultants to their host offices or bureaus after returning to their academic institutions.
Areas of Expertise
Fellows bring a broad range of scientific and technical expertise in areas such as physics, chemistry, information technology, life sciences, engineering, environment, agriculture, health, and social sciences. Applicants from a broad array of backgrounds and diversity of geographic, disciplinary, gender and ethnic perspectives, underrepresented groups, and underrepresented disciplines are also strongly encouraged to apply. Below is a list of some areas of expertise that align with overarching priorities of the Administration, the Secretary, and core focus areas in the Department. These are not designed to disqualify potential applicants outside of these areas but rather to highlight the expertise in greatest need to support current priorities.
Placement at State
Applicant finalists go through a mutual selection process before being matched in agency host offices in functional and regional bureaus. Below is a list of the prior host offices at the U.S. Department of State where Jefferson Science Fellows have been placed. The specific offices requesting to host a Fellow vary each year so not all of these opportunities will be available for placement. An organizational chart of U.S. Department of State bureaus and offices can be found here.
Mission: On behalf of the American people, we promote and demonstrate democratic values abroad, and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. In support of America's foreign policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development leads the U.S. Government's international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance. More about USAID’s mission and values can be found here.
Background: President John. F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by executive order in 1961 to lead the U.S. government’s international development and humanitarian efforts. Learn more about USAID’s history here.
USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID's work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.
Our objective is to support partners to become self-reliant and capable of leading their own development journeys. We make progress toward this by reducing the reach of conflict, preventing the spread of pandemic disease, and counteracting the drivers of violence, instability, transnational crime and other security threats. We promote American prosperity through investments that expand markets for U.S. exports; create a level playing field for U.S. businesses; and support more stable, resilient, and democratic societies. We stand with people when disaster strikes or crisis emerges as the world leader in humanitarian assistance.
U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America's interests while improving lives in the developing world. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad.
USAID works in over 100 countries to:
Organizational Chart: The current organizational chart for USAID can be found here. A limited number of Fellows can be hosted by USAID each year, so opportunities for placement will not be available in all operating units. While USAID has many overseas offices, the Jefferson Science Fellowship is a Washington-DC based fellowship, with the possibility of domestic and international travel.
Working at USAID: USAID benefits from the innovative ideas, energy, and state-of-the-art technical knowledge Fellows bring. Fellows add to the diversity of the workforce by offering a broad set of expertise that complements USAID’s existing staff profile. Fellowship participants enhance their knowledge of government and global issues and obtain valuable professional experience that enriches their careers and the academic institutions to which they return.
Through a fellowship at USAID, Fellows gain practical work experience in humanitarian assistance, economic and social development, and other technical sectors; the opportunity to engage directly in solving the most challenging and critical development issues of our time; and exposure to a broad network of development institutions and actors. While the specific projects vary by operating unit, staff at USAID work on activities such as project design; monitoring and evaluation; procurement (awarding grants and contracts); program management; technical oversight; building partnerships; planning, executing, and attending events; and reporting and communicating our work.
USAID Bureaus: The following bureaus at USAID are among those that have offered assignments in the past to Jefferson Science Fellows or who have expressed interest in hosting future Jefferson Science Fellows. Note that not all offices are always able to host a fellow every year and new offices participate in the program for the first time every cycle.
Applicants must agree to meet specific criteria to be selected for a Jefferson Science Fellowship. Select each category below to learn more about these requirements.
Applicants will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Awardees will be required to apply for a security clearance at the level needed for their host office placement. Failure to obtain the needed level of clearance may result in withdrawal of the fellowship offer.
The security clearance process will be initiated by the host office soon after a placement is offered. Since the clearance process generally takes several months, awardees will be expected to take immediate action to complete all required forms and fingerprinting.
Significant delays in gaining clearance are possible, and, very rarely, clearance may not be granted. More information on the security clearance process and information on common reasons for delays can be found below.
The Jefferson Science Fellowships (JSF) are a collaborative effort between the U.S. academic community and the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The financial and institutional support for the fellowship is shared between these partners. The terms of the fellowships include:
A complete application package must include the materials described below and must be submitted online by the application deadline. Inquiries regarding Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) or newly signed MOU documents should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Select the How to Apply tab for instructions for registering and submitting an application.
Receiving a Jefferson Science Fellowship (JSF) is considered a significant honor, both for the individual and for their academic institution. The fellowship is structured as a partnership between the U.S. academic community and the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, designed to meet the challenges of science and technology in foreign policy and international development.
To formalize the respective responsibilities of that partnership, an MOU must be executed between the applicant's academic institution and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The MOU stipulates the conditions of the fellowship for the Fellow, the academic institution, and NAS.
An active MOU is required for an applicant to be considered as a finalist in the annual competition. It is ultimately the responsibility of the applicant to ensure there is an active MOU in place before the JSF selection process begins. NAS staff can provide guidance, but applicants must initiate and ensure their institution completes the process of signing and submitting the MOU to email@example.com. It is recommended that applicants begin the process as early as possible.
Applicants should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to determine if their institution currently holds an active MOU, to request a copy of the MOU template if their institution, or to confirm any other details of a current MOU. Academic institutions that do not currently hold an MOU with NAS and would like to initiate one should also contact email@example.com. Fully executed MOUs will be returned to the institution via e-mail and/or postal mail after the MOU submission deadline.
An MOU can be completed well in advance of the application period.
NAS considers a signed MOU, once executed, active for future applicants from that academic institution.1 However, it is strongly recommended that each applicant discuss their situation with their academic institution prior to applying to the fellowship to confirm institutional support for their specific situation.
By signing the MOU, an academic institution agrees to continue to pay a Fellow's salary and benefits and retain all rights and privileges associated with the Fellow's academic position.
For Academic Institutions
Academic institutions that do not currently hold an MOU with NAS and would like to initiate one should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to initiate the process.
By signing the MOU, an institution agrees to continue to pay a Fellow’s salary and benefits and retain all rights and privileges associated with a Fellow’s academic position. It is strongly recommended that specific details of this agreement be discussed between the institution and the faculty member applying for the fellowship in advance.
An academic institution with an active MOU is strongly encouraged to notify faculty of the opportunity to apply for the JSF. While any internal nomination process would need to be coordinated by the academic institution, recruiting materials can be provided upon request. Institutions should contact email@example.com with their specific needs.
1The current MOU format was used beginning in the 2016 competition for MOUs executed no earlier than August 2015. If you are unsure about whether a past MOU is still active, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org confirm. We regret that we will not be able to accept outdated MOUs for current competitions.
The applicant should provide a Curriculum Vitae that is no more than 10 pages and includes the following:
The applicant should provide a concise Statement of Interest that is no more than two, single-spaced pages, 12-point font, 1" margins. The Statement of Interest must explain what the applicant expects to derive for their academic institution and themselves if selected as a Fellow. In this statement, the applicant should include a section describing their interest in a fellowship at the U.S. Department of State or U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a description of their relevant professional skills and experiences, and what they intend to bring back to their academic institution from the fellowship experience. In addition, the applicant should indicate any knowledge they might have of the U.S. Department of State or USAID and possible contributions they hope to 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 topic should be no more than 300 words)
Please provide answers to the questions below:
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.
Applicants will be required to list the contact information for three to five letter writers in the online application and must initiate sending the letter requests to the letter writers before their application can be submitted.
Instructions for letter writers on expected content will be provided in the request sent to letter writers when initiated by the applicant. Letter writers must upload their letters in the online application by the application deadline. Letters sent via postal mail or e-mail will not be accepted nor will letter writers be notified on behalf of applicants. When a letter is succesfully uploaded, the letter writer and the applicant will receive a confirmation e-mail from email@example.com. If an applicant or letter writer has not received a confirmation, they should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm.
A Letter of Nomination from an academic institution is not required; however, an academic institution official may submit a Letter of Nomination for the applicant as part of the application package.
Applicants who include a Letter of Nomination will be required to list the contact information for the letter writer in the online application and must initiate sending the letter request to the letter writer before their application can be submitted.
Instructions for the letter writer on expected content will be provided in the request sent to the letter writer when initiated by the applicant. The letter writer must upload the letter in the online application by the application deadline. Letters sent via postal mail or e-mail will not be accepted nor will letter writers be notified on behalf of applicants. When a letter is succesfully uploaded, the letter writer and the applicant will receive a confirmation e-mail from email@example.com. If an applicant or letter writer has not received a confirmation, they should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm.
Select the sections below to learn more about how to apply and submit an application to the Jefferson Science Fellowships. Registered applicants may also download this information under Fellowship Resources.
|Application opens:||August 1, 2023|
|Application & MOU deadline:||October 17, 2023
5 pm Eastern Time
|Finalists notified:||Early November 2023|
|Virtual interviews:||January 2024|
|Fellowships awarded:||Early February 2024|
|Fellowships start:||Fall 2024|