Payne International Graduate Fellowship
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). Fellows work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times — poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism. The Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development provides an opportunity to advance U.S. foreign policy interests and reflect the American people's compassion and support of human dignity.
The Payne Fellowship encourages the application of members of minority groups who have historically been underrepresented in international development careers and those with financial need. The fellowship is named in honor of longtime development champion, the late Congressman Donald Payne. The initiative is funded by USAID and administered by Howard University. Fellowship recipients can use the award to attend U.S. graduate programs throughout the country; they will join the USAID Foreign Service upon completion of the program, as long as they successfully complete the Payne Program and USAID entry requirements.
The Payne Fellowship provides up to $90,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships, and professional development activities and provides a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service.
- Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
- Applicants must be seeking admission to enter graduate school in fall 2022 for a two-year program at a U.S. university. They can be in the senior year of their undergraduate studies, graduating by June 2022, or they can be college graduates.
- Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.
A panel of individuals with experience in the USAID Foreign Service and academia makes selections for the Payne Fellowship. The selection panel will consider candidates' academic work, statements of interest, letters of recommendation, and honors and awards, as well as their community, extracurricular, and leadership activities. Consideration will be given to qualified applicants who, in addition to outstanding leadership skills and academic achievement, demonstrate financial need.
- Background Information (e.g., name, contact information, international travel).
- A personal statement (in 600 words or less) that discusses the applicant's reasons for applying, interest in foreign affairs, commitment to pursue a USAID Foreign Service career and any relevant experience or information.
- A statement (in 400 words or less) from the applicant that discusses his/her need for financial assistance to attend graduate school, including an explanation of:
- The financial assistance received during undergraduate studies
- Overall education-related debt
- Ability/plans to pay for graduate school independently
Two letters of recommendation:
- One from a faculty member who is well acquainted with the individual
- One from a community leader or other individual who can comment on the applicant's non-academic accomplishments and his/her potential to serve as a USAID Foreign Service Officer.
Proof of U.S. Citizenship
Student Aid Report
GRE or GMAT scores
Official Transcripts from all colleges and universities the applicant has attended for credit.