The IAF program has produced approximately six hundred alumni who span the who’s who of the U.S. foreign policy community, including a former secretary and several undersecretaries of state.
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 and government officials in scholarly settings. Over the years, the IAF program has produced approximately six hundred alumni who 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.
The IAF Program is only open to mid-career professionals who have a demonstrated commitment to a career in foreign policy. The program welcomes applicants from a broad range of professional, academic, and personal backgrounds. Although a PhD is not a requirement, selected fellows generally hold an advanced degree and possess a strong record of work experience as well as a firm grounding in the field of foreign policy. The program does not fund pre- or postdoctoral research, work toward a degree, or the completion of projects on which substantial progress has been made prior to the fellowship period. For candidates looking to go into government (those in academia or the private sector), preference will be given to candidates with no significant previous work experience in the U.S. government or at an international organization. Qualified candidates must be U.S. citizens.
The duration of the fellowship is twelve months, preferably beginning in September. The program awards a stipend of $105,000. 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 on the fellow's 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.
Each year two of the awardees whose proposed research examines pressing national security issues are designated as International Affairs Fellows in National Security.
Please note that the 2021-2022 fellowship selections may be subject to limitations caused by COVID-19
Selection as an IAF is based on a combination of the following criteria: scholarly qualifications, achievements and promise, depth and breadth of professional experience, firm grounding in foreign policy and international relations, and an application proposal that focuses on solutions to identified problems in U.S. foreign policy. Applicants are encouraged to plan a systematic approach to assessing the major substantive and process issues of their planned research. The proposal will be judged on the proposed work’s originality, practicality, potential, likelihood of completion during the fellowship period, and the contribution it will make to the applicant’s individual career development.
The selection process is highly competitive. CFR’s Fellowship Affairs Office processes the applications, and the IAF selection committee reviews all applications to identify the most promising candidates. About one-third of the most qualified applicants are selected as finalists to be interviewed by several IAF selection committee members. Based on the overall application and the results of the interviews, the selection committee chooses approximately ten finalists to be fellows.
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.
Affiliations at the time of the award
Strategic Planner, War Plans Division, G-3/5/7, Headquarters, U.S. Department of the Army
Assistant Professor, University of Georgia
Economic Officer, U.S. Embassy Zagreb, U.S. Department of State
Senior Policy Advisor, Bureau for Policy Planning and Learning, U.S. Agency for International Development
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. State Department
Assistant Professor, Indiana University
Associate Professor, American University in Cairo; Visiting Scholar, Middle East Initiative, Harvard University
Political Officer, U.S. Embassy Amman, Jordan
Senior Consultant, Logistics Management Institute; Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University
* International Affairs Fellow in National Security
A list of former fellows can be found online by visiting the Historical Roster of CFR’s International Affairs Fellows.
For more information, please contact: