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The Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program, USA 2023

Application is now open for the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program. Interested applicants are encouraged to send their applications in before the deadline date.

About the Fellowship

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program aims to entice exceptional people who are considering careers in the Foreign Service. If you wish to contribute to solutions for some of the most urgent global issues of the day, including injustice, climate change, illness, violence, and poverty, you should fight to advance foreign policy objectives that share the compassion of the American people and uphold human dignity. The Payne Fellowship is a special route to the USAID Foreign Service, offering up to $104,000 in benefits over two years for graduate education, internships, and professional development activities.

Details about Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program:

Scholarship Sponsor: Payne Fellowship


Scholarship Value: Up to $104,000

Number of awards: Several

Study level: Fellowship

Host Institution(s): U.S. Agency for International Development


Up to 30 fellowships, each worth up to $52,000 for a two-year program, may be awarded under the Payne Fellowship Program. The award includes up to $24,000 per year toward tuition and required fees for finishing a two-year master’s degree at a U.S. institution; a $18,000 stipend for each academic year for room, board, books, and other education-related expenses; and up to $10,000 per year in stipend, housing, transportation, and associated costs for summer placements.

The Payne Fellow is required to graduate from a U.S. graduate or professional school recognized by the Payne Program with a degree in international development or a similar field pertinent to the work of the USAID Foreign Service after completing two years of study. Fellows will be appointed as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Agency for International Development after completing the Payne Program and meeting the admission criteria.

Eligibility Criteria for Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

Applicants are advised to meet the following conditions to be eligible for the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program:

  • US citizens are required to apply.
  • A two-year program at a U.S. university is required for applicants who plan to apply for admission to start graduate school in the autumn of 2024. They might have already completed college or they could be in their final year of undergraduate study, receiving their diploma in June 2024.
  • When applying, candidates must have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better on a scale of 4.0.

Selection Process:

The Payne Fellowship is chosen by a committee of experts with backgrounds in academics and the USAID Foreign Service. The selection committee will take into account each candidate’s academic performance, interest statements, letters of reference, honors, and awards, as well as their involvement in the community, extracurricular activities, and leadership roles. Qualified candidates who exhibit financial need in addition to exceptional leadership abilities and academic success will be taken into consideration.

Finalists will be selected by the Payne selection committee at the start of December 2023. In the middle of January, candidates who have been chosen for final consideration will be asked to take part in the virtual final-round interviews. Following the interview, the program will work to finish the selection process and extend offers to 30 fellows.

The USAID Foreign Service standards for medical and security clearances should be carefully read by applicants. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s pre-employment procedures, which include background checks for a security clearance, medical exams (to include spouse and eligible family members if applicable), and drug tests, must be completed to be eligible to participate in the Payne Program. A candidate’s eligibility for the fellowship program may be revoked, and the U.S. government may be required to compensate it for any financial help it provided in connection with the candidate’s schooling. 

Application Procedure for Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

All submissions for the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program should be made electronically. The program staff can be reached at paynefellows@howard.edu if candidates have unsolvable difficulties when submitting a document electronically. However, electronic submission of papers is highly recommended.

Visit http://www.usaid.gov/work-usaid/careers/foreign-service/foreign-service-officer-faq for additional details.

Selection Process Timeline:

Application Deadline

  • Thursday, October 26, 2023

Finalist Notified 

  • December 8, 2023 

Final Round Interviews 

  • January 16 – 19, 2024 

Fellows Award Notifications Sent 

  • January 22, 2024 

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