Fellowships for Federal Employees

Fellowships aren’t just for the recently graduated or those still pursuing a degree. Current federal employees have a chance to compete for a fellowship either within or outside of their agency, all with an aim of building a better public workforce.

Work offered during fellowships is typically paid (and associated costs are usually covered by your current agency), highly specialized, and lasts several months to a year. Some fellowships can help you earn the qualifications necessary to enter the Senior Executive Service (SES), or just to learn some new skills and increase your expertise in a particular subject. Below is a list of some great fellowships for federal employees and some info on who can apply.

If you’re interested in learning more about Congress and how your agency can better work with the legislative branch, there are a number of opportunities for you:

  • The American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship program runs from November through August, and places fellows in House, Senate, and other select offices associated with Congress. Fellows learn about policymaking and in addition to their daily duties in their assigned offices, they also participate in enrichment activities that deepen the understanding of the legislative process. Candidates must be nominated by their agency, have two years of experience in a federal position in the executive branch, and be a minimum of a GS-13 or equivalent.
  • The Brookings Institution offers a similar program, known as the Legis Congressional Fellowship. Applicants must be at least a GS-13, and must be nominated by a supervisor. The program is offered for either a full year or a half year, and fellows are placed in Capitol Hill offices with an expectation that they learn how their home agency can better interact with the House and Senate.
  • Another legislative fellowship is offered by Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute. Also geared toward GS-13s and above, fellows are placed on congressional staffs for seven to twelve months in a full-time capacity. Candidates must have two years of federal experience and must provide a nomination letter from a supervisor or agency official that details the candidate’s need for Capitol Hill experience.

GS-14 and GS-15 federal employees have available to them the Brookings Executive Education (BEE) Fellowship, which spans 12 months of coursework, assessments, and leadership development opportunities. The program is intended to help prepare participants for senior leadership positions. A supervisor’s recommendation is required for application.

Two leadership development programs are available from the American Council of Technology and Industry Advisory Group, specifically for those who work in business transformation, IT management, development, acquisition, and program implementation. The first is the Partners program, which is suited for those in the advanced GS-14 and GS-15 levels who have potential to be promoted to SES in the next three to five years. The Voyagers program is for GS-14s and below. Both fellowship programs last nine months, and participants are expected to dedicate two to three days per month to program activities. Participation in the program is limited, and candidates must be nominated by an agency sponsor.

The Partnership for Public Service has a year-long Excellence in Government fellowship program for those at the GS-14 and GS-15 level. Unlike some other fellowship programs, fellows remain at their home agencies, but participate in project work every six weeks and devote an estimated five hours per week to these projects. Projects undertaken by past fellows have ranged from strategies to improve recruitment to critical positions, to better collaboration for food recalls, and streamlining the drug approval process. In addition to participating in group activities, fellows also receive one-on-one coaching from experienced government leaders. A reference letter from an immediate supervisor is required for application.

If your interests lie in systems engineering, the MITRE Corp., a not-for-profit organization that assists with federally-funded research offers a Federal Employee Fellowship Program that lasts from two to twelve months and is intended for both military and civilian employees of the service branches and Department of Defense. Candidates must be nominated by their home agencies, and are expected to participate on projects ranging from cybersecurity to net-centric operations. Mentoring and leadership development is also offered.

Have you held a federal fellowship? Are you considering one? Have you applied? Tell us your stories!


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Vincent Zuberko

I have been working with the federal government for around 22 years; and am a Grade 9, Step 9. Would like to know if there are any opportunities for me to enter a fellowship and hopefully climb the career ladder?