Until the reforms of the mid-1970s, the inner workings of Congress was essentially a closed book to the public and to the press. APSA foresaw that early- to mid-career political scientists or journalists, placed on congressional staffs for 10 months, would be in a unique position to transmit their experiences to a broader audience. When they returned to their jobs, their research and reporting would benefit from new insights and the American public would be better informed.
The American Political Science Association inaugurated its first class of Congressional Fellows in 1953. Over the following decades, the idea of teaching the political process through practical experience became increasingly attractive to other professional groups as well. In response to this interest, the Program has expanded to include domestic and foreign policy specialists from the federal government, health policy professionals, various academics, and a limited number of scholars from the international community.
Now in its fifth decade, the Congressional Fellowship Program has achieved a reputation for excellence among those concerned with the quality of government and the ways in which democracies function. It has served as a model for fellowship programs in all three branches of the federal government, White House and Supreme Court Fellowship Programs and has been adapted for use in parliamentary settings abroad.
Among the ranks of the Program's more than 2,400 alumni are professors, reporters, editors, executives, lawyers, politicians, Hill staffers, parliamentarians, lobbyists, doctors, nurses, sociologists, anthropologists, Native American tribal leaders, federal domestic and foreign policy specialists, international scholars, and ambassadors - even a vice president.
To obtain a copy of A CONGRESS OF FELLOWS: Fifty Years of the APSA Congressional Fellowship Program, 1953-2003, written by Director Jeffrey R. Biggs, please contact fellowship staff.