Fellowships

FRANKLIN FELLOWS PROGRAM AT U.S DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 2021

The Franklin Fellows Program is a unique and innovative program that brings outside experts to the Department of State and USAID and allows citizens a chance to serve and to deepen their professional experience. Mid-career and more senior Franklin Fellows work on issues of vital importance to the United States, such as trade and financial policy, entrepreneurship, counterterrorism, regional issues, human rights, and trans-national diseases.

Fellows are not compensated by the Department of State. Rather, their employers or other organization sponsor them, or they sponsor themselves. They return to their home organizations and communities with a much-enhanced knowledge of foreign and development policy and government operations and culture. If your organization has an international focus, allowing your employees to spend a sabbatical year as a Franklin Fellow can be an ideal way to develop their talent and position your organization to excel.

WHAT IS THE FRANKLIN FELLOWS PROGRAM?

Franklin Fellows are senior and mid-level professionals who serve a one-year unpaid fellowship at the Department of State or at USAID.

Working as experts and consultants on a wide range of issues and subjects, Franklin Fellows contribute their knowledge, experience, and specialized skills. While at State or USAID, Franklin Fellows gain first-hand insight into the world of foreign policy and development.

Franklin Fellows must be American citizens, with a minimum five years’ experience, and able to get a security clearance.

The Franklin Fellowship is not a path to employment at the Department of State or USAID.

After their year in Government, most “sponsored” Fellows return to their academic institutions, private-sector companies, and non-governmental organizations. The Franklin Fellowship is ideal as a sabbatical year for academics, or as an executive development program for the private sector, NGOs, and state and local government.

Some Fellows are “self-nominated” and use the Fellowship as an investment in their future, developing skills and rounding out their experience.

WHAT WILL THE FELLOWSHIP DO:

Franklin Fellows bring creative new thinking and ideas, and deep substantive knowledge and experience to the Department of State and USAID. Franklin Fellows often work in areas of new and emerging concern where the Department and USAID lack in-house expertise.

On issues where State and USAID are already working, the Fellows bring years of experience to bear, helping their colleagues to form deeper understanding of the issues. The following examples show both roles.

  • A university professor working with the State’s Bureau of African Affairs cataloged U.S. Government programs addressing desertification in Africa.
  • An investment banker from a large international bank was instrumental in crafting and launching U.S.-ASEAN Connect, the new U.S. strategic economic framework in Southeast Asia.
  • A university professor helped the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs understand the impact of Islamophobia in the European migration crisis.
  • At USAID, a professor of finance outlined innovative approaches to private capital development financing.
  • As Senior Advisor in State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, a university professor worked to engage religious actors on climate change and global environmental issues.
  • A manager from the NGO community developed a systematic approach to monitor and evaluate international programs to combat trafficking in persons and modern slavery.
  • A retired public service executive helped to establish the State Department’s office for public-private partnership programs.
  • A business school dean helped streamline the complex financial processes that support embassies and consulates around the world.
  • An environmental lawyer worked on policies to protect endangered species in Southeast Asia.
  • A Fellow with legislative experience led the development of the Department of State’s first International Cyberspace Policy Strategy.


WHO QUALIFIES TO BE A FRANKLIN FELLOW?

Franklin Fellows must be American citizens, able to get a security clearance, with a minimum five years’ experience that qualifies them as:

  • An expert — a person who is specially qualified by education and experience to perform difficult and challenging tasks in a particular field beyond the usual range of achievement of competent persons in that field. An expert is regarded by other persons in the field as an authority or practitioner of unusual competence and skill in a professional, scientific, technical or other activity.
  • consultant — a person who can provide valuable and pertinent advice generally drawn from a high degree of broad administrative, professional, or technical knowledge or experience. When an agency requires public advisory participation, a consultant also may be a person who is affected by a particular program and can provide useful views from personal experience.

Generally new PhD recipients will qualify, as will well-qualified and experienced Master’s degree recipients. However, there is no specific requirement for a degree — occasionally an applicant qualifies by virtue of experience alone.

The Franklin Fellows program is not a career-entry vehicle. The Fellowship does not lead to employment with the Department of State or with USAID.


HOW TO APPLY

Vacancy announcements for the Franklin Fellows program are issued several times per year via USAJOBs. The vacancy announcement spells out the qualifications, the applications process, and the deadlines for submission.

Once the vacancy announcement closes, the Franklin Fellows program managers review applications and select a pool of candidates for the Fellowship. The program managers will reach out to applicants to inform them of their selection, and to confirm interest and eligibility. Unsuccessful applicants are also informed.

The program managers then circulate the Fellowship applications to prospective bureaus and offices in the State Department and USAID. The managers of those offices will contact applicants to arrange interviews, typically by phone. If a “match” is made, the next step is applying for a security clearance.

The length of time to process the security clearance varies, but on average takes 3 – 6 months, and sometimes longer. When the security clearance is granted, the Franklin Fellows program managers arrange the “on-boarding” date for the Fellow to begin his or her one-year Fellowship.

Fellowship applicants are able to contact the Franklin Fellows program managers throughout the application process for guidance

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