Roundup of global dev fellowship programs

A scene from former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, with Kenyan Young African Leader Initiative Mandela Washington fellows, and graduates of the YALI Regional Leadership Center for East Africa. Photo by: U.S. State Department

For aspiring practitioners, policymakers, and leaders in global development, there are some great fellowships across the sector that provide opportunities for young professionals to hone their skills, gain hands-on experience, and build their network.

Fellowship opportunities are quite competitive and involve a lengthy application process — between 6-12 months — so candidates need to know and prepare for these in advance. Fellowships also tend to require a minimum commitment of six months to a year, but unlike many internships in the global development sector, provide some form of financial support.

Usually aimed at junior to midlevel professionals, fellowships also involve a clearly defined scope of work and strategies for professional development through activities such as coaching or mentoring.

Devex takes a look at some of the global development fellowship programs.

English proficiency is a requirement for all fellowships listed below and visa requirements vary depending on the program and host organization.

George Arnold Senior Fellow for Education for Sustainable Peace
Location: Braunschweig, Germany
Duration: 6 months
Who is it for: Scholars and experienced practitioners in peace education
Fellowship includes: Monthly stipend, travel costs to Germany, and additional administrative support
Degree necessary: Ph.D. preferred
Important dates: Applications have closed for 2020

The program promotes education for sustainable peace with a focus on media and curriculum at a secondary school level in postconflict or transitional societies. It does this by bridging the gap between theory and practice, fostering international scholarly exchange, and translating research findings into practical recommendations for those active in conflict resolutions.

This program favors scholars with a doctorate degree in humanities, political and social sciences, education sciences, or law. The program also considers applicants who do not have a doctorate degree — practitioners with at least five years of advanced professional experience in peace education that can demonstrate the impact of their work or research projects.

Fellows are expected to discuss their project and findings with other scholars and practitioners at the annual international summer conference of the Georg Arnhold Program in addition to producing policy papers, educational materials, research materials, or a larger publication. This fellowship involves a research stay at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Germany.

Mickey LeLand International Hunger Fellows Program
Duration: 2 years
Who it is for: Emerging leaders; must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents
Fellowship includes: Housing, relocation, professional development opportunities, and health insurance costs
Degree necessary: No
Important dates:
 Next round of applicants is in fall 2020. Sign up for updates.

This program, run through the Congressional Hunger Centre, combines professional development, leadership development training, and facilitated cohort learning in small classes of 12-15 individuals.

The program helps fellows develop their professional and leadership skills while actively building food and nutrition security through programs and policy. Fellows participate in both a field and policy placement that each last eleven months. In the field placement, fellows work at a programmatic level to support food and nutrition security interventions. In the policy placement, fellows apply their knowledge and experience to design and develop policy at the organizational, national, and international level.

Host organizations design the fellows’ work plan and supervise day-to-day work. Host organizations include international and local NGOs, research institutions, private sector entities, and United Nations agencies. Fellows work on a range of topics related to world hunger and can be involved in tasks such as monitoring and evaluation, nutrition assessment, advocacy, capacity building, and policy analysis.

Candidates apply to the Leland Program itself, rather than to a specific placement.

Where Rotary Peace Center alumni work. Image from Rotary

Rotary International Peace Fellowships
Thailand, Sweden, Australia, Japan, United States, and United Kingdom
Duration: 3 months for the professional development certificate program; 15-24 months for the master’s degree program
Who it is for: Global leaders dedicated to peace and development
Fellowship includes: Tuition fees, travel and accommodation expenses, and all internship and field-study expenses
Degree necessary: Bachelor's required for the master’s degree program
Important dates: The 2020-21 academic term deadline is May 31, 2019

Each year, Rotary awards up to 100 fully funded fellowships: 50 master’s fellowships and 50 certificate studies fellowships. Fellows study at one of their peace centers that offer academic training, practice, and global networking opportunities.

In the master’s degree program, candidates study peace and development issues, including a two to three-month field study that participants design themselves. In addition to formal qualifications, applicants should have a minimum of three years of related full-time work or volunteer experience.

In the professional development certificate program, candidates undergo an intensive program, including three weeks of field study and peer learning, which aims to provide candidates with the practical tools for promoting peace and international development. Applicants need a minimum of five years of related full-time work or volunteer experience, and should also be able to demonstrate their commitment to international understanding and peace and leadership skills.

For both programs, it is preferable for candidates to have a second language.

Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program
Duration: Variable
Who it is for: Recent graduates working with a coalition organization or NGO, or still studying with high potential. 
Fellowship includes: Stipend and/or travel expenses
Degree necessary: Yes; or in progress
Important dates: Rolling applications

The Hilton Prize Coalition builds a pipeline of leaders with the expertise and soft leadership skills needed to succeed in the workplace. The program also emphasizes the importance of collaboration among humanitarian and development organizations in order to increase effectiveness throughout the sector.

Accepted fellows work alongside one or more of the coalition’s 22 organizations and have access to leadership, mentorship, and cross-cultural opportunities. In the past, fellows have worked on desk research on women’s land rights, data collection for intergenerational health policy, fieldwork for nutrition innovation in West Africa, and more.

Coalition member organizations carry out the recruitment for fellows. Many member organizations work with partners and institutions overseas, as well as local universities and career fairs, to find recent graduates. The scope of a fellow’s work depends on the particular placement.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
Multiple locations across the United States
Duration: 6 weeks
Who it is for: Young professionals aged 25-35 and exceptional applicants aged 21-24 will also be considered.
Fellowship includes: J-1 visa support, travel costs, housing and meals, and sickness benefits
Degree necessary: No
Important dates: Applications for the 2019 program closed in October 2018

This is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative, which aims to empower youth through a range of training and professional development opportunities. This year, 700 youth leaders from sub-Saharan Africa traveled to the U.S. to participate in the program.

Fellows are hosted by one of the 38 participating institutions and complete six weeks of intensive study on business and entrepreneurship, civil leadership, or public management. The experience combines academic coursework, leadership training, experiential learning, and networking within the institutions.

The fellowship also includes a visit to Washington, D.C., and panel discussions with U.S. leaders. A select group of 70 fellows remain in the U.S. for an additional four-week professional development experience. Upon returning to their home countries, all fellows continue to receive support from U.S. embassies, the YALI network, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other partners, and have ongoing access to opportunities for professional development and networking.

Candidates do not need to have a formal degree or diploma but must have established records of accomplishments in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organization, institutions, communities, and countries. Candidates must not be U.S. citizens or permanent residents but be eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa.

British Council Future Leaders Connect
Location: London, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 days
Who it is for: Early to midcareer young professionals aged 18-35 from participating countries with a high potential for leadership
Fellowship includes: Costs of travel, accommodation, and meals
Degree necessary: No
Important dates: Applications close May 6 this year

This program aims to build a global network for emerging leaders. Successful candidates travel to the U.K. for advanced policy and leadership development with leading institutions. Following this, they return to their home country with a policy action plan and then form part of the global alumni network.

To apply, candidates must live in one of the following countries: Canada, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia, the U.K., and the U.S. Applicants from Egypt and U.S. are by invitation only.

While a formal degree is not required, applicants must be able to demonstrate strong policy knowledge and senior leadership potential. The application process even involves X-factor-inspired presentations and debates with live audiences in attendance.

Successful applicants for the 2019 program will travel to the U.K. later this year.

Global Health Corps Fellows
Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, and the United States
Duration: 1 year
Who it is for: Next generation of health leaders; young professionals aged 30 or less
Fellowship includes: Monthly living stipend, housing, insurance, travel costs, professional development opportunities, and support to apply for visas and work permits. On completion of the year-long fellowship, individuals are eligible for a $1,500 award.
Degree necessary: Bachelor’s degree
Important dates: Applications are accepted in January of each year

The Global Health Corps provides paid fellowships with health organizations in the U.S. and Africa. These fellowships start with a launch at Yale University, where fellows spend two weeks with thought leaders. Training, coaching, and mentorship continues for the entire duration of the placement and aims to equip fellows with the skills for transformative leadership in the health equity movement.

Fellowship positions vary depending on the country, but can include: monitoring and evaluation; knowledge translation; program management; eHealth; communications; medical projects support; or noncommunicable disease programming.

For Africa-based positions, a valid work permit is required. Legal visitor status is needed for U.S.-based international positions and this may involve applying for a J-1 visa.

USAID Global Health Fellows
United States and worldwide
Duration: 2-4 years
Who it is for: Skilled professionals interested in contributing to global health
Fellowship includes: Negotiable salary
Degree necessary: Master’s degree or higher
Important dates:
There are currently no open positions but they are regularly updated and posted here

Through these placements, USAID supports diverse and skilled professionals while building a global health workforce to help achieve its health priorities. Fellows provide technical assistance to USAID programs and missions and can work across a variety of health and technical areas including: health systems; HIV/AIDS; knowledge management; malaria; maternal and child health; M&E; neglected tropical diseases; nutrition and food security; public-private partnerships; reproductive health; supply chain engineering; technical research; and tuberculosis.

Fellows are placed with USAID bureaus, other federal agencies, or USAID partner organizations in Washington, D.C., or participate in international placements with USAID missions, ministries, NGOs, or partner country offices. Eighty percent of placements are based in Washington, D.C., and 20 percent are overseas.

To apply, candidates must be U.S. citizens or have permanent U.S. residency.

Overseas Development Institute Fellowship
Location: Worldwide
Duration: 2 years
Who it is for: Postgraduate economists and statisticians
Fellowship includes: £21,000 ($27,820) for the first year, £23,000 in the second, and rental allowance
Degree necessary: Master’s or doctorate degree in economics, statistics, or related fields
Important dates:
Applicants invited annually by ODI in November

This program gives young professionals the opportunity to work in the public sectors for low- and middle-income countries as local civil servants. In addition to providing postgraduates with hands-on work experience, the program also aims to fill gaps in local capacity.

Assignments call for a wide range of economic, statistical, and administrative skills and postings are determined primarily by the needs of the partner government. The types of work fellows are typically involved in, depending on whether they are focused on economic or statistical work, include: macroeconomic forecasting and analysis; aid coordination; debt management; reforming trade policies and promoting regional economic integration; conducting household and economic surveys; producing national accounts; and government finance statistics.

Applications are open in November for postings to commence August the following year. Applicants must be willing to commit to a two-year posting in any of the participating countries.

Devex, with financial support from our partner 2U, is exploring the skills and education development sector professionals will need for the future. Visit the Focus on: DevPros 2030 page for more.

About the author

  • Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a Reporter at Devex. She covers all things related to careers and hiring in the global development community as well as mental health within the sector — from tips on supporting humanitarian staff to designing mental health programs for refugees. Emma has reported from key development hubs in Europe and co-produced Devex’s DevProWomen2030 podcast series. She holds a degree in journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University and a master's in media and international conflict. In addition to writing for regional news publications, she has worked with organizations focused on child and women’s rights.