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.

Extensive Description

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 14 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. Junior Fellows will begin working on September 1, 2023, and they will work through June 30, 2024. Some fellowships may extend through August 31, 2024 through mutual agreement between the program and the junior fellow.

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 2023-2024, 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 $45,000 subject to federal, state and local taxes. A generous benefits package is provided, including medical, dental and life insurance as well as vacation leave. In addition, Gaither Junior Fellows will be provided up to $1,500.00 in relocation support but are otherwise responsible for their own housing arrangements.

Deadline Information

UChicago Endorsement Deadline: Monday, November 28, 2022


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.

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 September 1 through June 30 following graduation

Application Process

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.

UChicago Resources and Support: You are required to attend "James C. Gaither Junior Fellowship: Information Session and Essay Writing" on October 24 or, watch the recorded session via CCRF Resource Library. 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 October 25-October 28. 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 28 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 2023-2024 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 on December 2. The nominees receive substantive essay writing support. They commit to the following steps:

1. STEP ONE: schedule a meeting on December 5. 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 19. 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 4. 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 11. Please email Sandra Zupan your highly polished, final application.

2023 – 2024 Topics: Applicants must respond to the question pertaining to the program to which they are applying: 

A. Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program. Choose any three countries in the world, from three different regions, and explain how political developments in those countries in the past five to ten years embody what you believe are some of the most important elements of the global democratic recession. Be sure to give some indication why you have chosen the countries you focus on.

B. American Statecraft Program. America’s role in the world is changing, whether it likes it or not. What are the 3-5 most important factors that will shape the context in which America conducts its foreign policy in the next two decades?

C. Nuclear Policy Program. Which state without nuclear weapons do you believe is most likely to acquire them?

D. Technology and International Affairs Program. (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. International Security and Political Economy [to work with the International Security and South Asia Programs]. (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 Should the United States end its ambiguity over defending Taiwan?

G. Asia Program (Indo-Pacific Security). There is a growing consensus in strategic policy circles that the United States cannot uphold a favorable balance of power vis-à-vis China in the Indo-Pacific by itself. As such, it is argued the US must accelerate its pursuit of a collective defense strategy to deter Chinese coercion and military adventurism by modernizing, empowering, and integrating its regional alliances and partnerships. This requires fundamental changes to the way Washington thinks about defense self-reliance, alliance management, burden sharing, defense industrial integration, combined military planning, and regional posture. It also requires active buy-in from regional allies and partners to succeed, many of whom do not want to be drawn into US-China conflict, do not want to pursue hard security alignments, or are trying to balance their support for America’s military position with efforts to minimize risks of entanglement and loss of sovereign control. In light of these challenges, how should the US and its key Indo-Pacific allies and partners work together to develop more effective approaches to conventional deterrence?

H. Asia Program (China, Economics and Technology). China’s rise as an economic and technological competitor with the United States has dramatically ratcheted up tensions between the two countries. Many commentators today suggest we are in the midst of a radical US-China “decoupling,” which will see the two countries sever economic and technological ties. What are the likely medium-term (5-10 years) impacts of such a decoupling for the United States, China and the rest of the world? How could this process be shaped to benefit the United States, and reduce collateral damage to other countries?

I. Russia and Eurasia Program. The U.S.-Russia relationship has plummeted to unprecedented post-Cold War lows amid the war in Ukraine. 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?

J. Africa Program. Narratives about 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.

K. Global Order and Institutions Program. The UN Secretary-General has depicted the world as “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.” What accounts for the failures of many multilateral institutions, and what—if anything—can be done to improve international cooperation in addressing major global challenges?

L. Sustainability, Climate and Geopolitics Program. (Please respond to just ONE of the two following questions). After 30 years of UN climate conferences, the multilateral approach to climate mitigation has a poor record by the most important metric: global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise each year, even as climate impacts become more noticeable and severe. This poor record raises doubts about the “bottom-up” logic of voluntary, national climate pledges as embodied in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Has this bottom-up logic failed, and if so, what should replace it? OR Imagine it is the year 2040 and you are working for a major international organization. Your teenaged niece, who is about to begin studying for a bachelor’s degree in Climate & Geopolitics, asks you to summarize how the climate crisis and the responses to it have transformed international affairs since you were a student. In the interest of time, she asks you to focus on 2-3 of the most important developments. What do you tell her?

M. Europe Program. (Please respond to just ONE of the two following questions). The war in Ukraine has galvanized European defense efforts and revived a “braindead” NATO. Looking at the recent successes of transatlantic security cooperation, some have questioned the continued relevance of European “strategic autonomy”. At the same time, the war has revealed the gaps in European defense capacities and the degree to which Europe still depends on the US for its security. After decades of foot-dragging, European governments are now finally investing in their defense budgets. How should they spend the new money? And what else is needed to put the transatlantic defense relationship on a more sustainable footing? OR With the Trade and Technology Council, the US and Europe have established an important mechanism to coordinate policy on crucial questions related to democratic technology governance. The success of this initiative will in large part determine the strength of the transatlantic partnership and its effectiveness in tackling future challenges. The Council has demonstrated its ability to tackle both the systemic challenges posed by China and the acute challenges posed by Russia. Yet, more than a year after its inauguration, the TTC had not produced many concrete deliverables. What is one initiative or project you would recommend the two sides should launch at their next meeting?

2023 – 2024 Requirements:

Democracy, Conflict, and Governance

American Statecraft 

Nuclear Policy

Technology and International Affairs - Strong writing skills and research skills are essential.

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.

International Security and Political Economy [to work with the International Security and South Asia Program] – Quantitative data analysis and GIS skills are required. A strong mathematical background is a plus. An academic background in international relations theory or international political economy along with an interest in military issues is essential.

Asia Program (Indo-Pacific Security) – Mandarin Chinese language skills and familiarity with Asian security, defense and foreign policy issues are essential. Proficiency in Japanese, Bahasa, or another Asian language is a plus.

Asia Program (China, Economics and Technology) – Mandarin Chinese language skills are required. Background in economics or emerging technologies strongly preferred.

Russia and Eurasia – Excellent Russian reading skills required.

Africa Program 

Global Order and Institutions - An academic background in international institutions and the management of transnational challenges is strongly preferred.

Sustainability, Climate and Geopolitics - Basic data skills (such as helping create graphs or tables for Carnegie publications) are a plus. Applicants should have completed coursework related to sustainability and climate issues.

Europe - Fluency and the ability to perform research in a European language other than English are a plus. Background knowledge on European politics is essential.

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