OURS National Scholarships

Payne Fellowship

Next deadline: October 2024

The Payne Fellowship Program awards up to fifteen fellowships valued at up to $52,000 annually for a two-year master’s program in international development or another area relevant to the work of the USAID Foreign Service at a U.S. graduate or professional school. The award includes up to $24,000/year toward tuition and fees; a $18,000 stipend for each academic year for room, board, books and other education-related expenses; and up to $10,000/year in stipend, housing, transportation, and related expenses for summer placements in Washington D.C. and at a USAID overseas mission. Fellows who successfully complete the Payne Program and USAID Foreign Service entry requirements commit to 5-year appointments as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Prospective applicants should make an individual advising appointment with Keila Diehl in the OURS National Scholarships Office.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must:

  • be a U.S. citizen
  • be seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall of 2025 for a two-year program at a U.S. university.  You can be in the senior year of you undergraduate studies, graduating by June 2025, or you can be a college graduate.
  • have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application

Selection Criteria

The Payne Fellowship review committee seeks outstanding individuals who:

  • have a strong academic background and good writing skills
  • have a strong interest in pursuing a career in the Foreign Service of USAID
  • represent diverse interests and backgrounds, including experience living, working or traveling overseas; international exposure within the U.S.; internship or work experiences in government, NGOs, service organizations, and/or business enterprises (experiences that show cultural sensitivity, including interest or experiences in languages or working with various cultural or socioeconomic groups)
  • are involved in extracurricular, community, or volunteer activities that show a commitment to service and to social causes, public policy, and related issues
  • have knowledge of fundamental U.S. foreign policy interests and goals, topical international development issues, and major foreign policy challenges facing the United States
  • can demonstrate financial disadvantage or need to secure non-family economic assistance to attend graduate school

Application Requirements

  • Background information
  • Personal statement (600 words) discussing applicant’s reasons for applying, interest in foreign affairs, commitment to pursue a USAID Foreign Service career, and any relevant experience or information.
  • Statement (400 words) discussing applicant’s need for financial assistance to attend graduate school, including explanation of:
    1. Financial assistance received during undergraduate studies
    2. Overall education-related debt
    3. Ability/plans to pay for graduate school independently
  • Two letters of recommendation (one from faculty; one from community leader or other individual who can comment on applicant’s non-academic accomplishments and potential to serve as a USAID Foreign Service Officer). Note: In online application, applicants will identify recommenders, who will be contacted by the program and asked to submit letters electronically.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Student Aid Report (SAR) generated from FAFSA form. Note: If applicant received financial aid during most recent academic year, s/he is required to submit the SAR form. If applicant did not receive financial aid during most recent academic year, s/he must complete the FAFSA to generate a SAR for 2023-2024 or 2024-2025 academic year.
  • Official Financial Aid Statement from senior year, if received financial aid.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities applicant has attended for credit. Use a school-generated transcript. An official transcript is best; a copy is acceptable. (If selected for an interview, applicant must bring official transcript to the interview.)

For more information about this opportunity, visit the Payne Fellowship website (opens external site).