Up tp $84,000 toward graduate study in international affairs or a related subject at any university in the US.


Application Deadline

February 2, 2024 at 4:25 PM

Duke Contact

USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship

Quick facts

Academic Discipline

Arts & Humanities
Professional (Law/Medicine/Business)
Public Service
Social Sciences

Eligibility: Citizenship

U.S. Citizen

When to Apply

Senior Year, Young Alumni

Campus Nomination Required?


Sponsoring Foundation Site



The Payne Graduate Fellowship seeks to attract outstanding young people who are interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). If you want to work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times — poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism – the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development provides an opportunity to advance U.S. foreign policy interests and reflect the American people's compassion and support of human dignity. 


The fellowship funds up to $42,000 toward tuition and fees each year and an annual stipend of $18,000. Fellows also participate in two summer internships, one working on international issues in Washington DC taking place during the summer before graduate study begins  and the other at USAID Mission abroad during the summer between the first and second years of graduate school. The program provides additional support for summer travel, housing, and other related expenses.

Scholars also gain access to a strong alumni network and ongoing opportunities for networking, collaboration, and advancement.

Upon successful completion of the program, fellows will receive appointments in the State Department Foreign Service and must complete at least five years as a Foreign Service Officer.


Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applicants must be seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall for a two-year program at a U.S. university. They can be in the senior year of their undergraduate studies, graduating by June, or they can be college graduates. Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.  For a competitive application:  The Payne Fellowship Selection Panel judges each applicant based on a variety of different criteria.  It seeks individuals who show clear interest in a Foreign Service career at USAID, along with a strong academic background, a commitment to service, leadership skills, financial need for graduate school, diverse interests in areas such as international affairs and development, cultural sensitivity, writing skills, and an ability to overcome obstacles.  A good application introduces the individual to the panel and shows his/her unique motivations, experiences, accomplishments, and career goals.

Selection Criteria

  • Demonstrated interest in foreign affairs, including knowledge and understanding of fundamental U.S. foreign policy interests and goals, topical international affairs issues, and major foreign policy challenges facing the United States
  • Leadership
  • Tenacity and perseverance
  • Writing ability
  • Financial need