Presidential Fellows Program

Supports undergraduate study of the U.S. Presidency, the public policymaking process, and our Chief Executive’s relations with Congress, allies, the media, and the American public.

In cooperation and with the support of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, the College may nominate one student per year to the Presidential Fellows Program, a year-long fellowship experience that brings Fellows from across the United States together to study the office of the United States president and the Congress.

Since 1970, the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress has selected a number of Presidential Fellows who come to Washington, DC, to learn about leadership and governance, to share their outstanding research and scholarship, to develop as future leaders of character, and to be inspired to pursue careers in public service. This unique non-resident program offers up to seventy-five select undergraduate and graduate students from leading colleges and universities a year-long opportunity to study the U.S. Presidency, the public policymaking process, and our Chief Executive’s relations with Congress, allies, the media, and the American public.

Twice a year, Presidential Fellows participate in three-day leadership conferences in Washington, DC, and over the course of their Fellowship year they complete a research paper that is eligible for publication and awards.  Fellows also contribute to group presentations that address policy scenarios, with the benefit of facilitation from policy experts. Additionally, the Presidential Fellows have the opportunity to interact directly with a growing group of International Fellows.

Deadline Information

Deadline: Ongoing


  • Upon beginning their Presidential Fellows program, Fellows must meet all deadlines or forfeit their status as a Presidential Fellow in good standing. 
  • Fellows are expected to engage with their assigned Mentor.
  • Fellows must attend two conferences in Washington, DC, during the course of the Fellowship year. The Fall conference finalizes collaboration team assignments that prepare students for the Spring conference group presentations. 
  • Each Fellow undertakes an original research project on a subject with direct relevance to the U.S. Presidency and/or the Congress AND specific to their group assignment.  Within the group, each member is responsible for producing an 8 to 15-page paper (single-spaced) on that subject, due in May.  Fellows are encouraged to draw upon and incorporate independent study or thesis work that is being undertaken during the academic year.
  • Students will select a research field and policy scenario that serves as their group designation.  Only papers related to the assigned topic will receive honors.

Eligibility Requirements

The primary eligibility criterion for selection as a Presidential Fellow is nomination by a participating institution.

The program is open to students of all academic levels, but rising third- or fourth-year students (i.e. current second- and third-years) are preferred. All academic majors are eligible.

Selection Criteria

Presidential Fellows are chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Fellows should have strong academic credentials and have demonstrated competence in the social sciences.
  • Fellows should have a demonstrated interest in an aspect of the American government and should be comfortable speaking, presenting, and writing specifically about policy issues, public service, or the American Presidency or Congress.
  • An essential aspect of the Fellows program is the relationship with his/her Mentor; Fellows should therefore be responsible, open to constructive criticism, and willing to engage with mentors.

Application Process

More details will be announced when the fellowship application opens.