Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

Provides up to $96,000 in support and professional development for graduate study leading to careers with USAID

The USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program seeks to attract outstanding young people who are interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  

The Payne Fellowship provides up to $96,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships, and professional development activities. Members of minority groups who have historically been underrepresented in international development careers and those with financial need are encouraged to apply.  Fellowship recipients can use the award to attend U.S. graduate programs throughout the country. 

Each Fellow will receive mentoring throughout the duration of the fellowship as well as during his/her early employment at USAID.

Deadline Information

Application Deadline: Friday, November 1, 2019


Payne Fellows also participate in two internships. The first, an internship working on international issues in Washington, DC, will occur in the summer after being selected and before the first year of graduate study. The second will be an overseas internship in a USAID Mission that takes place during the summer between the first and second years of graduate study.

Fellows must obtain graduate degrees in international affairs or a related subject such as development, economics, history, political science, public administration, communications, public policy, business administration foreign languages, agriculture, environmental sciences, or urban planning at a graduate or professional school approved by the Payne Program. Studies in law do not satisfy this requirement.  Applicants apply to two-year graduate programs at U.S. universities simultaneously with their application to the Payne Program.

Fellows who successfully complete the Payne Program and USAID Foreign Service entry requirements will receive appointments as USAID Foreign Service Officers.  Each Payne Fellow who obtains a master's degree is committed to a minimum of three years of service as a USAID Foreign Service Officer. Candidates who do not successfully complete the Payne Program and the subsequent three year service obligation may be subject to a reimbursement obligation.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be U.S. citizens.
  • Must be seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall of 2020 for a two-year program at a U.S. university.  They can be in the senior year of their undergraduate studies, graduating by June 2020, or they can be college graduates. 
  • Must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.

Application Process

The application cycle for the 2020 Payne Fellows will open up on July 1st, 2019.

All application materials should be submitted electronically. Inquiries regarding the application process should be direct to Cynthia Valentine, Payne Program Manager via phone at (202) 806-5952 or via email at

For more information on this opportunity, please contact: 
Sandra Zupan