Policy work is an important lever to have a positive impact in many EA-relevant cause areas—AI, biosecurity, animal welfare, global health, etc. The US government is especially influential, suggesting that policy work in the US can be particularly impactful. 

If you are looking for opportunities to explore, pivot into, or accelerate your US policy career, you should consider applying for relevant US policy fellowships. 

This post briefly explains what US policy fellowships are and introduces a new database with ~50 fellowship opportunities. It includes opportunities for people from various backgrounds (STEM, social sciences, etc.) and career levels (undergrad to mid-career). The database allows you to filter by cause area, degree requirements, location, and more. Please use this form if you have any feedback on the database or would like to suggest any additions or corrections.

If you are interested in applying for any of these fellowships—including if you are still unsure or plan to apply in future years—we encourage you to fill in this form so that we can potentially support your application and connect you with others who have gone through the program.

Introduction to policy fellowships

There are dozens of US policy fellowships aiming to help people with different backgrounds and career stages gain first-hand policy experience. These programs can provide opportunities to work for US executive agencies, Congress, or think tanks. Other common fellowship benefits include funding, training, mentoring, networking opportunities, application support, and the possibility of post-fellowship employment. Moreover, policy fellowships are often competitive and prestigious, providing a valuable credential.

What is meant by a “fellowship” can differ substantially as the term is not used consistently. The structure, benefits, and eligibility requirements may vary widely depending on the program. Many fellowships offer full-time placements in host organizations, while others provide part-time training and mentoring, and some “fellowships” are simply scholarships or internships.

Alternatives to fellowships for those seeking to work in US policy include doing a policy-relevant graduate degree (ideally in Washington, DC) and applying directly for policy jobs or internships. Potential advantages of policy fellowships over these alternatives include:

  • easier to get into without prior policy experience than most jobs (many are designed as bridge programs for people from non-traditional backgrounds such as tech)
  • better paid than most internships and provide more post-completion employment opportunities
  • better and cheaper (time-wise) for career exploration than graduate school
  • additional benefits (e.g., training, networking, prestige)

Examples of US policy fellowships include the Open Philanthropy Technology Policy Fellowship, the Presidential Management Fellowship, the Scoville Fellowship, and the STPI Science Policy Fellowship.

The fellowship database

We created a database of US policy fellowships, currently listing around 50 opportunities.

Limitations

The database is a work in progress, and we appreciate any feedback (e.g., fellowships we missed, factual errors, better ways to structure the table) via this form or in the comments. The database does not aim to be comprehensive and focuses on fellowships most likely to be relevant to those interested in EA cause areas. Many (but far from all) of the programs included have a US national security focus and may be most relevant to people seeking to work in policy to reduce global catastrophic risks, especially from AI and pandemics.

The database only includes US federal fellowships, not those at the state or lower levels. There are an increasing number of state-level fellowships, which may be relevant but go beyond the initial scope of the database. If you know of promising state-level US policy fellowships, please send them to us via this form

This database only includes fellowships in the US, most of which require US citizenship and virtually all of them require at least having a US work authorization (i.e., they don’t sponsor visas, but you may be eligible if you are already in the US and are authorized to work). While the fellowship model is particularly common in the US, there are many policy fellowships outside the US too, such as the European Technology Policy Fellowship run by Training for Good. We don’t currently include non-US opportunities in the database because of capacity constraints and our greater familiarity with the US context, though we may expand the database in future. 

How to use the database

When using the database, you may find it helpful to use the ‘Filter’, ‘Group’, and ‘Sort’ functions to look only at fellowships relevant to your situation. 

For example, you may use the ‘Filter’ function to only see Washington, DC-based fellowships involving a job placement for early-career individuals. 

Database information

The information included in the database is as follows:

  • Name of the fellowship
  • Brief description: a 1-2 sentence description of the fellowship
  • Website
  • Organizing institution
  • Work hours: full-time or part-time
  • Benefits: Job placement, Training, Funding, Networking
  • Location: most US policy fellowships are located in Washington, DC
  • Host institution category: e.g., executive branch, legislative/Congress, or think tank / nonprofit
  • Cause area: the cause area the fellowship is most relevant for. Most fellowships listed are cause agnostic and could benefit your policy career whatever issues you work on (in which case it is coded as “All”).
  • Duration
  • Eligibility: which criteria must candidates meet to be eligible to apply?
  • Degree requirements
  • Career level: who is the fellowship aimed at? E.g., early-career (0-4 years of work experience), professional (4+ years), mid-career (10+ years)
  • Citizenship requirement: US citizen, US permanent resident (green card), US work authorization, or US student visa (F-1, J-1)
  • Citizenship notes: additional information on citizenship requirements
  • STEM requirement: whether the fellowship only or preferentially accepts candidates with STEM backgrounds
  • STEM notes: additional information on STEM requirements
  • Security clearance requirements: does the fellowship require getting a security clearance (sometimes required for executive branch positions)
  • Clearance notes: additional information on security clearance requirements
  • Open date / close date: when do applications open / close
  • Notes: links and other information about the fellowship

Fellowship highlights

For those interested in policy work to mitigate the risks from emerging technologies, such as AI or biotech, these are some of the most relevant fellowship programs that offer full-time placements.

Open Philanthropy Technology Policy Fellowship

  • ResourcesWebsiteEA Forum postFAQFellow bios
  • Brief description: A 6-24 month full-time US emerging technology policy fellowship providing job placements in the US executive branch, Congress, or think tanks for early- and mid-career individuals.
  • Eligibility: Depends on the fellowship track. All tracks require an undergraduate degree at a minimum, but the mid-career roles have higher requirements (including several years of work experience). Candidates need to demonstrate expertise related to AI or biosecurity. All fellowship tracks require at least US work authorization; in addition, Congress requires at least permanent residence (i.e., green card), and the executive branch requires US citizenship. May need to be eligible for a security clearance depending on the position.
  • Deadlines: Annually around mid-September

AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship

  • ResourcesWebsite80,000 Hours articleProgram FAQApplication FAQ
  • Brief description: A 1-year full-time executive branch job placement program for STEM PhD graduates.
  • Eligibility: Science PhDs (broadly defined), or master’s degrees in engineering plus three years of professional engineering experience. US citizenship is required. May need to be eligible for a security clearance depending on the position.
  • Deadlines: annually around early November

TechCongress

  • ResourcesWebsiteFellow bios
  • Brief description: A 10-12 month full-time Congressional fellowship focused on technology policy for early- and mid-career individuals.
  • Eligibility: Junior track (“Congressional Innovation Scholars Program”) requires a STEM undergraduate degree, while the mid-career track (“Congressional Innovation Fellowship”) requires experience working in or studying the technology sector but has no degree requirement. Candidates must “be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, green card holder, or must be lawfully authorized to work full-time without restriction for any U.S. employer”.
  • Deadlines: Biannually around mid-August and in spring

Presidential Management Fellowship

  • ResourcesWebsiteEA Forum postProgram FAQApplication FAQ
  • Brief description: A 10-12 month full-time Congressional fellowship focused on technology policy for early- and mid-career individuals.
  • Eligibility: Completed an advanced degree (MS, MA, JD, LLM, PhD, MPA, MPH, MBA, etc.) within the previous two years. Realistically, it requires at least US permanent residence (i.e., green card). May need to be eligible for a security clearance depending on the position.
  • Deadlines: Annually around late September

Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship

  • ResourcesWebsite
  • Brief description: A 3-month full-time training and networking program for graduate degree holders and current graduate students at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC.
  • Eligibility: Current or former graduate students. For current graduate students, preference is given to those at later stages of their studies. Former graduate students must have graduated within the previous 5 years. Areas of study may include social/behavioral sciences, health and medicine, physical or biological sciences, engineering, law/business/public administration, or relevant interdisciplinary fields. Non-US citizens may participate but require specific US visas (no visa sponsorship). 
  • Deadlines: Annually around late October

STPI Science Policy Fellowship

  • ResourcesWebsiteEA Forum postFAQ
  • Brief description: A 2-year full-time science and technology policy fellowship with US executive branch offices for recent bachelor's graduates.
  • Eligibility: Completed an undergraduate degree within the previous two years. Need to demonstrate interest in science and technology policy (but previous policy experience is not required. US citizenship is required. Need to be eligible to receive a security clearance.
  • Deadlines: Annually around mid-January

Scoville Peace Fellowship

  • ResourcesWebsiteEA Forum postFAQHost organizations 
  • Brief description: A 6-9 month full-time security policy fellowship with DC-based NGOs for early-career bachelor’s or master’s graduates.
  • Eligibility: Recently completed an undergraduate degree. Need to demonstrate background and interests relevant to international peace and security. Need at least US work authorization or permanent residence (i.e., green card) but not citizenship.
  • Deadlines: Biannually around early October for the Spring cohort and early January for the Fall cohort

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