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The Bryce Harlow Fellowship Program: A Unique Opportunity for Professional Students

06 Feb Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments

Here’s an example of a graduate fellowship program that seeks to support a very specific type of student – namely, part-time students who work full time in the field of professional advocacy – with well-defined career aims by helping them finish their education and become more established in their chosen career path:  the Bryce Harlow Fellowship Program.

Bryce Harlow Fellowships are awarded to “highly motivated” students from the Washington D.C. metro area who are pursuing a career in professional advocacy through government relations and lobbying.  The award offers $8,000 toward tuition costs, but it is not merely an academic award.  In fact, candidates for this award should be full-time working professionals seeking to establish themselves in the fields of government relations and advocacy while pursuing graduate studies part-time.  For students who fit this profile, the Bryce Harlow Fellowship is truly a unique opportunity, designed to provide financial support for ongoing part-time study while nurturing the development of its fellows in their chosen profession through high-level mentoring and networking opportunities.

The Bryce Harlow Foundation has recently opened their 2013 competition, with applications due by April 5, 2013, for fellowships in the 2013-14 academic year.  This year for the first time the application is to be submitted electronically, and requires no university nomination or vetting process, so students may apply directly via the foundation web site.

[In the past, participating Washington D.C. area universities were limited to ten applications per university.  Applications were submitted to a campus representative, and in the event that more than ten students applied, the university would convene an on-campus screening committee to select the ten to be nominated for the award.  This limit no longer applies, and thus no on-campus screening process will be conducted – the competition is now open to all who meet the eligibility criteria.  However, the Director of Graduate Fellowships, Dr. Kay Ágoston, continues to serve as the Campus Representative, and interested students are encouraged to contact the Office of Graduate Fellowships for advice, pointers and feedback on the application process.]

Here are some tips to get you started.  If you are thinking of applying and want to learn more, please contact Dr. Ágoston at

  • This program is primarily intended to support candidates pursuing careers in professional advocacy through lobbying and government relations.  It is not intended for professionals in public interest and/or social justice advocacy, and such applicants will generally not be preferred.  Candidates who work for non-profit organizations may in some exceptional cases be a good fit for the program, but applicants should bear in mind that the roots of this program are in the private sector business community, and it is designed to mentor young professionals with that career orientation.  Applicants coming from other backgrounds in professional advocacy should be mindful of this bias when evaluating their suitability for the program and crafting their application.
  • Although candidates should be working full-time in a setting related to their interest in professional advocacy, they need not be working for a lobbying firm or Washington office dedicated to government relations per se.  Many candidates for this award come from a background of working on Capitol Hill.  The important thing is that they should be working in a setting where they have been able to gain an understanding of how the world of advocacy and lobbying works, and through that experience have come to see this as a career path in which they can play a role in advancing issues they care about.
  • Prospective applicants who are not familiar with Bryce Harlow, the man in whose honor the foundation and the fellowship were created, should take the time to learn more about him, his career, and his legacy to the profession.  You application essays should demonstrate that you have reflected on this legacy, particularly with regard to Bryce Harlow’s commitment to advocacy with integrity.
  • Financial need is a consideration with this award.  The type of candidate the foundation most wishes to support is one at the entry level of the profession, earning a modest salary, for whom tuition relief will have a meaningful impact.  Note that the fellowship funds may only be applied to tuition costs and will be paid directly to the university for application to your student account in two installments of $4,000 each (one for fall semester and one for spring).  If the amount of the award exceeds your tuition cost, the remaining funds must be returned to the Bryce Harlow Foundation.

For more information about the Bryce Harlow Foundation, the Bryce Harlow Fellowship Program, Bryce Harlow the man, and to access application materials, visit the program web site.  The Office of Graduate Fellowships is available to advise students applying to (or considering) this award.


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