National deadline: January 19, 2016

Eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Seeking admission to graduate school in the fall of 2016 for a two-year program at a U.S. university. Can be in senior year of undergraduate studies, graduating by June 2016, or a college graduate
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher 

Award summary and conditions: 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). The Payne Fellowship, which provides up to $90,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships, and professional development activities, provides a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service.

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 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.

Application process: online (

Application requirements: 

  • Background Information (e.g., name, contact information, international travel).
  • 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.
  • Statement (in 400 words or less) from the applicant that discusses his/her need for financial assistance to attend graduate school.
  • Letters of recommendation (2): One from a faculty member who is well acquainted with the individual and 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. Note: In the online application, applicants will identify recommenders, who will be contacted by the program and asked to submit letters electronically.     
  • Proof of citizenship (birth certificate, passport, certificate of U.S. citizenship)
  • Student Aid Report (SAR), generated from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • GRE or GMAT Scores
  • Official Financial Aid Statement from your senior year, if you received financial aid.
  • Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities the applicant has attended for credit.

Faculty representative: Keith Raether

Selection process: The Payne selection panel will choose finalists by the end of February. The Payne Program staff will communicate decisions to both successful and unsuccessful applicants by the end of February. Candidates selected for final consideration will be invited to Washington, D.C. for interviews and will prepare a writing sample in mid-March. The program will pay the cost of accommodations and travel. Offers will be made soon after the interviews are concluded.