Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellowship Program

Funds two years of graduate school for college seniors and college graduates committed to joining the Foreign Service.

Pickering Fellowship: At a Glance


  • U.S. citizens
  • Fourth-year students and college graduates
  • Minimum GPA: 3.2

Selection Criteria:

  • Intent to enter a two-year graduate program at a U.S. university
  • Commitment to a career in the Foreign Service at the U.S. Department of State
  • Strong academic background
  • Commitment to service
  • Leadership skills
  • Financial need for graduate school
  • Geographic, ethnic, gender, and social diversity
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Writing skills
  • Ability to overcome obstacles

Candidates for the Pickering Fellowship can affirm the following statements:

  • I have a strong commitment to a Foreign Service career.
  • I can demonstrate extracurricular, community, volunteer, or leadership experiences that would help me succeed in the Foreign Service.
  • I possess adequate academic preparation for my chosen graduate program.
  • I can demonstrate the need for financial assistance to attend graduate school.

Extensive Description

What is the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program? The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University to attract and prepare outstanding candidates for Foreign Service careers in the U.S. Department of State. It welcomes applications from 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 diverse backgrounds, including ethnic, racial, social, and geographic.

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 U.S. embassies, consulates, or diplomatic missions around the globe. They promote human rights, assist American citizens overseas, enhance prosperity and development, deepen ties between the United States and people around the world, and support U.S. global values and interests in many different ways.

Fellowship Benefits: In 2023, the Pickering Program plans to award 45 fellowships of up to $42,000 annually for a two-year period to cover tuition, room and board, books, and mandatory fees for completion of a two-year master’s degree. This includes up to $24,000 per year for tuition and mandatory fees and an academic year stipend of $18,000. Fellows must obtain graduate degrees in a field of study relevant to a career in the State Department Foreign Service, such as public administration, public policy, international relations, business administration, economics, history, political science, communications, or foreign languages at a graduate school that is approved by the Pickering Program. Studies in law do not satisfy this requirement. 

Internships and Mentoring: Fellows will participate in two internships as part of the program. The first, an internship at the U.S. Department of State headquarters in Washington, DC, will occur in the summer between their first and second year of graduate study. The second will be an overseas placement in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate during the summer after completion of the master's degree. The program provides additional support for summer travel, housing, and other related expenses. In addition, fellows will receive mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer for the duration of the fellowship.

Deadline Information

National Deadline: Thursday, September 29, 2022


Orientation: Fellows will participate in an orientation at Howard University in early June 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.

Service: 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. See more information here.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a US citizen.
  • Seek admission to a two-year graduate degree program at a U.S. university in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service.
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.2.
For more information on this opportunity, please contact: 
Jenna Sarchio