International Affairs Fellowship

The Program

Established in 1967, the International Affairs Fellowship (IAF) is the hallmark fellowship program of CFR. It aims to bridge the gap between the study and making of U.S. foreign policy by creating the next generation of scholar-practitioners. The program offers its fellows the unique chance to experience a new field and gain a different perspective at a pivotal moment in their careers. Academics are thus placed in public service and policy-oriented settings, while government officials are placed in scholarly settings. Over the years, the IAF program has produced approximately six hundred alumni that span the who’s who of the U.S. foreign policy community, including a former secretary and several undersecretaries of state, U.S. ambassadors to NATO and the United Nations, and many other influential leaders in government, academia, and the private sector.


  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens
  • Applicants must be mid-career professionals
  • Applicants must possess a strong record of professional achievement
  • Applicants must have a firm grounding in and a demonstrated commitment to the field of foreign policy
  • While a PhD is not a requirement, applicants must hold at least a bachelor’s degree

Fellowship Award

The duration of the fellowship is twelve months, preferably beginning in September. The program awards a stipend of $100,000. Fellows are considered independent contractors rather than employees of CFR, and are not eligible for employment benefits, including health insurance.

For those seeking to spend the fellowship year in the U.S. government, CFR will work with the fellow to identify a U.S. government agency willing to serve as a host. The placement is made at the discretion of the host agency and is contingent upon the fellow successfully obtaining a security clearance, which is granted solely by the U.S. government.

For those seeking to spend the fellowship year at an international organization or an academic institution, CFR will work with the fellow to identify an organization willing to serve as a host. The placement is made at the discretion of the host organization. A security clearance may not be required.

"There is a lot of talk about bridging the gap between the Ivory Tower and the practical world; the IAF actually does it!" — Colin H. Kahl, Associate Professor, Georgetown University (2005–2006 IAF)

How to Apply

Interested candidates who meet the program’s eligibility requirements can apply online between July 1 and October 31 on an annual basis. 

Selection Process

Selection as an IAF is based on a combination of the following criteria: 

  • Scholarly qualifications
  • Professional experience
  • Firm grounding in foreign policy 
  • An application proposal that focuses on solutions to identified problems in U.S. foreign policy

The application proposal will be judged on its originality, practicality, potential, likelihood of completion during the fellowship period, and the contribution it will make to the applicant’s individual career development. Please note that the IAF program does not fund pre- or postdoctoral research, work toward a degree, or the completion of projects for which substantial progress has already been made.

The selection process is highly competitive. Based on the overall application and the results of the interviews, the selection committee chooses approximately ten finalists to be fellows. CFR will work with the selected fellows to place them in suitable host organizations. CFR cannot guarantee placement at any specific agency or organization.

2017–2018 Fellows

Affiliations at the time of award

Erica Borghard, Assistant Professor and Executive Director of the Grand Strategy Program, Department of Social Sciences, U.S. Military Academy

Courtney Cooper, Director for Afghanistan, National Security Council

Benjamin Gedan, Director for Venezuela and the Southern Cone, National Security Council

Maxwell Hamilton, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Thomas Hill, Senior Professional Staff Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Patrick McEachern, Deputy Chief, Foreign Policy and Bilateral Affairs, U.S. Embassy Tokyo, U.S. Department of State

Meghan Stewart, Vice President, Legal Strategy, Public International Law & Policy Group

Laura Taylor-Kale, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, U.S. Department of Commerce


A list of former fellows can be found online by visiting Historical Roster of CFR's International Affairs Fellows.

The IAF Experience

Keynote panel at the 2017 IAF Conference
Keynote panel at the 2017 IAF Conference
Dalton Conley (2005-2006 IAF) and Kim McClure (2010-2011 IAF) at the 2012 IAF Conference
Dalton Conley (2005-2006 IAF) and Kim McClure (2010-2011 IAF) at the 2012 IAF Conference
"It was one of the best, best experiences of my life." -The Honorable Condoleezza Rice (1985-1986 IAF)
Participants at the 2008 IAF Conference
Participants at the 2008 IAF Conference

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