Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program

The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program is a program funded by the U.S. Department of State, administered by Howard University, that attracts and prepares outstanding young people for Foreign Service careers in the U.S. Department of State. It welcomes the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the State Department, women, and those with a demonstrated financial need for graduate school. Based on the fundamental principle that diversity is a strength in our diplomatic efforts, the program values varied backgrounds, including ethnic, racial, social, and geographic diversity.

The Pickering 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 Foreign Service entry requirements, fellows have the opportunity to work as Foreign Service Officers in accordance with applicable law and State Department policy, serving in Washington, DC and at a U.S. embassy, consulate, or diplomatic mission around the globe. Fellows also agree to a minimum five-year service commitment in the Department of State’s Foreign Service.The five-year service commitment begins upon entry into the Foreign Service.

The Program provides graduate fellowships to qualified college seniors and college graduates committed to joining the Foreign Service. The fellowship helps finance two-year graduate programs, provides two summer internships, offers mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer, and provides other professional development activities. The program continues to ensure that the Foreign Service reflects the face of America to foreign audiences and provides a source of trained women and men who are dedicated to pursuing Foreign Service careers with the Department of State and representing America’s interests abroad.


National Deadline: September 21, 2023

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 will participate in an orientation at Howard University in the week June 05, 2023.  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.

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 fellow’s 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.

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.

The Pickering Program has made, and continues to make, an important contribution to the diversity of the State Department Foreign Service. Fellows currently represent the United States in countries around the world, in areas as diverse as Africa, East Asia, Latin America, South Asia, Europe and Eurasia. They are promoting human rights, assisting American citizens overseas, enhancing prosperity and development, deepening ties between the United States and people around the world, and supporting U.S. global values and interests in many different ways.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Be US Citizens
  • 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 2023 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).
  • Personal background information
  • Personal Statement (600 word limit)
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation
  • Statment of financial need (400 words)
  • Official financial aid award letter
  • FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR)
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  • Transcript(s)
  • Copy of GRE/GMAT scores (optional)
  • Complete two NCA forms:
  • Launch your online application 
  • Complete and submit application by National Deadline on September 21, 2023
  • Finalists will be notfied in November, with a Final Round of Select Fellows in December
  • Award offers will be made to 45 Finalists in December
  • Information on this page is intended to supplement, not supplant, your own careful review of the official Pickering website. If you find any discrepancy between the two, the Pickering website takes precedence.
  • Though you should seek out others’ advice and feedback on your application, the essays should be your original work (no one should be writing your essays for you). UC’s Student Code of Conduct applies.

If you're interested in a career in international affairs, you may want to explore these other options, too: