For Prospective Applicants
Q: What are the benefits of participating?
A: The program provides numerous benefits to advance your career both during and after the fellowship year:
Q: I’m a political scientist but not a specialist on Congress. Can I apply?
- Understand Congress from the inside. Fellows gain first-hand insights into Congress and the policymaking process through direct participation on a congressional staff. An intensive orientation and ongoing professional development training further enhance the learning experience.
- Advance your research. Fellows from academic backgrounds develop unique knowledge to inform their research. Alumni of the program have published cornerstone works on Congress and policymaking after their fellowship year, providing rich academic accounts informed by their on-the-ground experiences in Congress.
- Inform classroom teaching with real-world insights. Alumni in academia rely heavily on the fellowship experience to develop new courses, including simulation classes and policy seminars. Fellowship alumni also draw on their fellow alums and congressional contacts as classroom speakers.
- Engage in professional and public service. Alumni have drawn on the fellowship experience to bolster their home institutions’ ties with Congress, facilitate student internships on Capitol Hill, and to share their expertise with policymakers and the public.
- Expand your network. Fellows develop diverse contacts throughout the fellowship year. Fellows form enduring professional and personal ties within Congress, among their fellowship cohort, and within the broader network of Congressional Fellowship Program alumni.
- Experience history as it happens. Fellows have a front-row seat to critical events unfolding in the nation’s capital.
A: The program welcomes applications from political scientists in all subfields who can demonstrate a professional background and interest in Congress and the policymaking process. While a number of fellows each year are specialists in Congress and legislative politics, others bring expertise in foreign policy, education, healthcare, human rights, tax policy, and numerous other areas. In all cases, applicants should specify in their statement how the experience of working inside Congress relates to their professional goals.
Q: Can freelance journalists apply?
A: Yes. Applications are welcome from journalists with 2- to 10-years of professional experience, including as a freelancer. In all cases, applicants should demonstrate a clear and sustained track record of professional achievement in this area.
Q: I don’t qualify for the political scientist, journalist, or APSA-MCI Communications fellowship. What options are available outside these categories?
A: Please visit the How to Apply
section of our website for links to our current sponsor organizations. Each organization maintains different application procedures and deadlines.
The Application Process
Q: What advice do you have for preparing the 500-word essay?
A: Use your space wisely. There’s no need to provide an extensive rehashing of the accomplishments listed on your CV or resume. Rather, use the essay to explain clearly how a congressional experience relates to the full range of your career interests and professional goals.
Q: Do I need to specify in the application in which congressional office I want to serve my placement?
A: No. Applicants are welcome to note general areas of interest (e.g., a foreign affairs scholar might note an interest in serving with a Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee or in serving a placement on the committee itself), but fellows do not need to give specific names. Fellows will have plenty of time and guidance during the fellowship orientation to decide how they want to focus their search for a placement.
Q: What advice should I give my recommenders?
A: A good letter of recommendation will address not only the candidate’s overall professional background and achievements, but also assess her or his fit with the Congressional Fellowship Program. Thus, good applications go beyond a general job market letter to speak specifically about the candidate’s background and qualifications for navigating and benefitting from a year on Capitol Hill.
Q: Can I submit letters of recommendation from a portfolio service?
A: Yes, but please contact the Congressional Fellowship Program office first at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm the delivery process. Our preference is to receive letters of recommendation through the online submission form. Please note, per above, that the strongest letters of recommendation will be tailored to the specifics of the Congressional Fellowship Program.
Q: Can my recommender email the letter of recommendation to the Congressional Fellowship Program instead of uploading the form?
A: We encourage all letter writers to submit their letters through the online form, but recommenders facing any technical difficulties may send the letter by email attachment to email@example.com.
The Fellowship Year
Q: If selected for a fellowship, will I receive assistance in finding housing?
A: While APSA does not provide or locate housing for you, our detailed orientation guide, which we provide to all accepted candidates, includes many leads for securing housing.
Q: Who will my colleagues be in the fellowship class?
A: In addition to political scientist, journalist, and MCI-communications fellows directly recruited by APSA, the fellowship class consists of fellows sponsored by several outside organizations. The 2015-2016 class, for example, included federal executive employees sponsored by their home agencies in the federal government, health professionals sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies/John Hartford Foundations, and international and domestic professionals sponsored by the American Australian Association, Asia Foundation, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, and Spirit Mountain Community Fund (Mark O. Hatfield fellowship).
Q: Do Fellows work a fulltime schedule in their congressional placements?
A: Yes. Fellows are expected to work fulltime schedules in their placements. Each congressional office has its own unique tempo and rhythm, and offices vary in their daily schedules and work pace. Fellows who typically cannot work beyond a regular eight-hour work day or who need to leave at a set time each day have successfully found placements that can accommodate their needs. All fellows enter into an agreement with their host offices to ensure they also have time to attend fellowship enrichment activities throughout the year.
Q: Can I carry out fieldwork or do other research during the fellowship?
A: The Congressional Fellowship Program is an experiential learning opportunity, not a research fellowship. Fellows work fulltime in their placements in a role similar to congressional staffers and also participate in the program’s enrichment activities. Some fellows conduct a limited amount of research on their own time during the fellowship year (provided there are no time conflicts or conflicts of interest with their host offices), but fellows should not expect to devote significant amounts of time to such activities and may not conduct any activities that would present conflicts with their role as a fellow within a congressional office.