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Professional Development Fellowships

13 Sep Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments

When most people think about graduate fellowships, they think of the traditional fellowship programs that support doctoral dissertation research and writing – or perhaps also of awards to support international scholarly experience such as Fulbright Grants, Boren Fellowships and Critical Languages Scholarships.

However, there is another category of graduate fellowship that deserves notice:  the professional development fellowship.  These fellowships provide professional development experiences in specific fields, issues, or types of work.  They often seek applicants who are in their final year of graduate study, or who have recently graduated, and can offer on-ramps to a career or a line of work.  Some even require that the applicant possess early-career professional experience in addition to graduate-level education – a profile that matches that of many Mason graduate students, who may have returned to school for a degree after working for a number of years, or who are working and pursuing graduate study at the same time.

Perhaps the best-known example of a professional development fellowship is the Presidential Management Fellowship or PMF program.  The PMF is part of the U.S. Federal Government’s Pathways Program, which seeks to furnish talented students with opportunities to pursue careers in public service.  Applicants to the PMF must be in their final year of graduate study or have completed a graduate degree within the past two years.  If offered a PMF appointment, the Fellow will work for the Federal Government in a two-year excepted service position of their own choosing.  PMFs have access to special training programs and professional development workshops, as well as senior level mentoring.  At the conclusion of the two-year fellowship, the PMF may be “converted” to a permanent position.

The PMF competition opens each year in September, and PMF Finalists are announced during the spring semester.  Applicants who win the Finalist designation have one year to secure a PMF appointment.

A general information session and workshop for prospective PMF applicants at Mason will be held on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, in the Founders Hall Auditorium at the Arlington Campus.  Students considering the PMF competition are advised to attend Career Services workshops on careers in the federal government, and to familiarize themselves with the USA Jobs web site.

The PMF is not the only fellowship of this type, however.  In fact, there are a great variety of professional development fellowships.  Some are, like the PMF, U.S. government programs used as recruitment tools for specific agencies.  Others are sponsored by private foundations, non-governmental organizations, or think tanks.  Opportunities exist for both U.S. and international experience.

Here are a few examples:

Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program (Germany)
The Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program is a transatlantic initiative that each year offers twenty accomplished young Americans the opportunity to complete a high-level professional development program in Germany.  Applicants to this program should hold a graduate degree by the time the fellowship begins, and possess at least two years of relevant work experience in business administration, journalism, law, public policy, international relations, or related field.  Over the course of a nine-month program, Bosch Fellows complete two work phases at leading German institutions and attend three seminars in locations across Europe with key decision-makers from the public and private sectors. No German language skills are required at the time of application.  Non-German speaking awardees commit to an intensive pre-departure program of language acquisition.

David A. Winston Health Policy Fellowship
The David A. Winston Health Policy Fellowship is a 12-16 month postgraduate experience in Washington, D.C.  Open to students in the final year of a graduate degree program completing a master’s or doctoral degree in any program, school or department of a college or university that is a member of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (including George Mason University.)  Students who do NOT have prior work experience in Washington D.C. in the field of health policy, but who aspire to such careers, will be given preference.  Deadline is in October annually, and fellowship term commences in June.

Department of Health and Human Services Emerging Leaders Program

A two-year paid professional development fellowship that is open to applicants with a master’s degree and/or some early professional experience plus a commitment to a career in public service and an interest in the work of the Department of Health and Human Services (see web site for list of HHS divisions.)

EMDAP (Emerging Markets Development Assistance Program)
A professional development fellowship with USAID, EMDAP is open to recent or graduating MA/MS or MBA students with a minimum of two years relevant professional experience in fields related to international affairs, international business/finance, or management.  Fellows are awarded a year-long work placement with USAID overseas, where they work collaboratively with USAID programs and local NGOs.  Deadline falls in May for assignments beginning in the subsequent autumn and winter.

Leland International Hunger Fellows Program

Two-year professional development fellowship in which fellows serve internationally in both field and policy settings dedicated to the alleviation of hunger and poverty in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  Open to Master’s and doctoral candidates/recent graduates, with at least one year of related work/service experience required.  Limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Nonproliferation Graduate Fellowship

This 12-month, full-time, salaried fellowship program provides participants with specialized training and practical experience on projects and initiatives relating to issue of nonproliferation. In addition to gaining valuable experience working with federal government programs, participants have opportunities to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as well as other government agencies, national laboratories, and non-governmental organizations.

For more examples, download the Office of Graduate Fellowships handout on Professional Development Fellowships from the Fellowship Opportunities page.  Students are also encouraged to search for opportunities in the organizations or agencies doing the kind of work they envision for their career.

Professional development fellowships often escape the notice of students who think of fellowships only in terms of how to pay for their education.  These fellowships have another, arguably more powerful (and ultimately more lucrative) purpose:  to invest in talented graduate students by helping to launch them from graduate study into a career.




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