Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program

Fellows provide research assistance to Carnegie's senior scholars.

Carnegie Endowment Junior Fellows Program: At a Glance


  • Fourth-year students and recent graduates
  • Eligible to work in the U.S. for one year after graduation

Selection Criteria:  

  • Research experience
  • Strong interest in international affairs
  • Related academic study and/or work experience
  • Quality of the essays

Candidates for the Carnegie Junior Fellows Program can affirm the following: 

  • I have a serious career interest in international affairs.
  • I have conducted substantive academic, applied and/or legal research.
  • I have completed a significant amount of coursework and have langue skills pertaining to the program to which I am applying.
  • I have strong analytical, writing and editing abilities.

What is the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program? Through the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows program, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers approximately 12 one-year fellowships to uniquely qualified graduating seniors and individuals who have graduated during the past academic year. The Program is designed to provide a substantive work experience for Junior Fellows who have a serious career interest in international affairs. They work as research assistants to Carnegie’s senior scholars in Washington, DC on a full-time basis. All fellowships will begin on August 2, 2021.

Assignments: Fellows perform the following tasks: 

  • Provide research assistance to Senior Carnegie Associates who work on a variety of international affairs issues. 
  • Conduct research, contribute to op-eds, papers, reports, and books, edit documents. 
  • Participate in meetings with high-level officials, contribute to congressional testimony and organize briefings attended by scholars, activists, journalists and government officials.

Selection Process: Approximately 5 percent of applicants are selected for positions based on the quality of the essays, related academic study and/or work experience, grades, recommendations, and interviews. Approximately 3-4 applicants per position are chosen for interview by video or phone in February/early March. Selection decisions are made by late March.

Diversity Initiative: As an organization dedicated to pursuing global engagement and peace, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace believes the organization is enriched and should be informed by a diverse array of perspectives. In 2021-2022, Carnegie welcomes a third application if at least one of the nominees is from a historically underrepresented group.

Salary and Housing: The annual salary is $42,000 subject to federal, state and local taxes. A generous benefits package is provided, including medical, dental and life insurance as well as vacation leave. Gaither Junior Fellows are responsible for their own housing arrangements.

Deadline Information

UChicago Endorsement Deadline: Monday, November 30, 2020

Final Deadline for UChicago Nominees: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduating seniors
  • Students who have graduated during the last academic year (but have not started graduate work except in cases where the student has completed a joint bachelor’s/master’s degree program)
  • Strong academic background
  • Strong interest in international affairs
  • Eligible to work in the U.S. for twelve months from approximately August 1 through July 31 following graduation

Application Process

UChicago Resources and Support: You are required to attend "James C. Gaither Junior Fellowship: Information Session and Essay Writing" on October 29 or, watch the recorded session via CCRF Resource Library. For guidance on preparing an effective CV, please attend a session on October 30. Next, should you have any further questions or need guidance with securing letters of recommendation please schedule a 30-minute meeting with Sandra Zupan between November 3 and November 6. Note that CCRF does not offer individual essay writing support at this stage of the process. 

Campus Endorsement: The University of Chicago can nominate two-three candidates. To secure UChicago endorsement, please submit all of the following materials here by November 30 at 5:00pm CST. Note that late and/or incomplete submissions will not be accepted. 

  • An essay of one double-spaced page on why you would like to be a junior fellow
  • Academic CV 
  • Two letters of recommendation (written by faculty or professionals who can best speak about your abilities to succeed as a potential junior fellow)
  • Unofficial transcript
  • An essay of three double-spaced pages on one of the 2021-2022 topics listed below. These topics are intended to test skills in analysis, logic, and written expression. The essays should be analytical thought pieces, not research papers. Students should submit an essay related to their primary research program interests, although the Program may ultimately select an applicant for a program outside of his/her designated primary interest or make an assignment to more than one program.

UChicago Nominees: Campus endorsement results will be communicated after December 4. The nominees receive substantive essay writing supoort. They commit to the following steps:

1. STEP ONE: schedule a meeting on December 8. You will obtain feedback on your essays and CV. Next, you are expected to revise your materials according to the suggestions. 

2. STEP TWO: schedule a meeting on December 22. You will obtain feedback on your essays and CV. Next, you are expected to revise your materials according to the suggestions. 

3. STEP THREE: schedule a meeting on January 5. You will obtain feedback on your essays and CV. Next, you are expected to revise your materials according to the suggestions. 

4. FINAL APPLICATION: due on January 12. Please email Sandra Zupan your highly polished, final application.

2021 – 2022 Topics: Applicants must respond to the question pertaining to the program to which they are applying: 

A. Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program. As democracy in the United States and Europe is experiencing more serious problems, the question of the relationship between those problems and the issues facing democracy in the rest of the world is gaining attention. Are the problems that democracy is facing in the United States and Europe largely similar to or fundamentally different from those plaguing democracy in other regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East?

B. U.S. Foreign Policy and Diplomacy. The Obama Administration looked to re-set relations with Russia, recast America’s role in the Middle East, and rebalance its posture toward the Asia-Pacific. The Trump Administration has pursued its own policy pivots in each area. Compare and contrast the Obama Administration’s aims and policy record with Trump Administration’s aims and policy record in one of these policy areas, and draw out lessons from the experience of both administrations that ought to inform American diplomacy in the years ahead.

C. Nuclear Policy Program. Which state without nuclear weapons do you believe is at most risk of acquiring them?

D. Technology and International Affairs Program (including the Cyber Policy Initiative). (Please respond to just ONE of the two following questions). What technology issue will have the greatest impact on international stability in the coming decade, and why? OR What factors explain why the cybersecurity environment has continued to deteriorate in recent years?

E. Middle East Program. The Middle East region is going through a huge, agonizing and protracted transformation characterized by dwindling oil revenues, rising populations, failing governance structures and government services, rising extremism and sectarianism, and high youth unemployment. The current situation has enabled regional powers to intervene in each other’s affairs as well as non-state actors such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State to emerge and spread new toxic ideologies. What do you see as one of the most difficult threats facing the region today and the underlying drivers of turmoil? Discuss the impact this has had on two countries in the region and strategies that will help move these countries toward a better future.

F. South Asia Program. (Please respond to just ONE of the two following questions). What factors explain why, in many democracies, poor people continue to receive poor public services, despite accounting for a large share of the population? OR Under what conditions is a military response an effective solution to transnational terrorism?

G. Asia Program (China). Many observers argue that the longstanding US policy of engagement and hedging toward China has failed. As proof, they point to Beijing’s failure to significantly liberalize politically, to open up its markets sufficiently to foreign competition, and to promote the norms that the United States and its democratic partners prefer in its approach to international order. Instead, these observers argue, China has only become more oppressive domestically, pursuing predatory economic policies overseas, failing to move on needed economic reforms at home, threatening its neighbors, establishing competitor international institutions, and trying to undermine the U.S. and push it out of Asia. Has U.S. policy failed, and what are the right yardsticks for assessing Chinese conduct in international relations? 

H. Asia Program (Japan). Japan is watching the emerging U.S.-China strategic competition carefully, clearly supporting its ally on various fronts in order to balance against China and bolster its own standing as efficiently and effectively as possible. However, as U.S. policy towards China becomes more aggressive (in terms of protectionist measures, stricter export controls, and trying to form coalitions to isolate China and its companies), Japan is placed in the uncomfortable position of trying to balance its own desire to pressure China and promote more open rules-based economic and diplomatic behavior on the one hand, while on the other hand wanting to maximize economic opportunity for Japanese firms with China and avoid being dragged into the middle of a more intense U.S.-China competition. Provide your own brief assessment of what is at stake for Japan amid growing U.S.-China friction and how you evaluate the steps it is taking to maximize Japan’s national interest. What are the near-term prospects for Japan and for the U.S.-Japan alliance?

I. Asia Program (Economics). China’s economic rise has created tensions with the US. America is accusing China of unfair trade and foreign investment practices. But China sees its actions as necessary to become more technologically advanced to escape the middle income trap. What are merits of the respective arguments?

J. Russia and Eurasia Program. The U.S.-Russia relationship has plummeted to unprecedented postCold War lows. Can this downward trajectory be arrested? What are the key dangers in the current situation and how might the White House seek to prevent things from getting out of hand?

K. Africa Program. Narratives about Sub-Saharan Africa’s future often oscillate between unrealistic optimism and blanket pessimism. Clearly the truth lies in a more nuanced middle. Compare and contrast the recent trajectories of two African countries - including both their economic and political dimensions - to help illuminate a nuanced picture of Africa’s current direction.

2021 – 2022 Requirements:

Democracy, Conflict, and Governance

U.S. Foreign Policy and Diplomacy – The Junior Fellow will support Carnegie Endowment President Ambassador William J. Burns on research and writing that seeks to shape American diplomacy. Applicants should have coursework in U.S. foreign policy, broad-gauged regional lens, an interest in policy analysis and formulation, and superb writing skills.

Nuclear Policy

Technology and International Affairs (including the Cyber Policy Initiative)

Middle East – Strong reading fluency and the ability to perform academic as well as on-line research in Arabic essential. Strong background in Middle East politics and/or history is a huge plus.

South Asia – A strong academic background in international relations theory, political theory, or international political economy is essential, along with an interest in military issues. The ability to perform quantitative data manipulation is required and a strong mathematical background is a plus.

Asia Program (China) – Mandarin Chinese reading skills required.

Asia Program (Japan) – Japanese reading skills required.

Asia Program (Economics) – Mandarin Chinese reading skills a huge plus. Strong background in economics essential.

Please note: Applicants for the Asia program with skills in two or more of the above areas (Chinese language skills, Japanese language skills, strong economics background) will be at an advantage when applying, regardless of their essay selection.

Russia and Eurasia – Excellent Russian reading skills required.

Africa Program - The Africa Program examines the economic, social, political, and external factors shaping Africa today, with the aim of helping regional and international policy actors strengthen their contributions to a better African future. 

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