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 environment 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. The IAF program now has more than six hundred alumni. They constitute a who’s who of the U.S. foreign policy community, and include a former secretary of state, several undersecretaries of state and defense, ambassadors to NATO and the United Nations, and many other influential leaders in government, academia, and the private sector.
The IAF Program is open only to early to mid-career professionals with a demonstrated commitment to a career in foreign policy. The program welcomes applicants from a broad range of professional, academic, and personal backgrounds. Selected fellows possess a strong record of work experience as well as a firm grounding in the field of foreign policy. A PhD is not required for university-based applicants, though successful candidates from academia typically hold an advanced degree. 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 before the fellowship period. For candidates from academia and the private sector looking to go into government, preference is given to candidates with no significant work experience in the U.S. government or at an international organization. Candidates must be U.S. citizens to be considered for the fellowship.
The fellowship runs for twelve months, preferably starting in September. The fellowship stipend is $105,000. Fellows are independent contractors rather than employees of CFR and are not eligible for employment benefits, including health insurance.
CFR will work with each fellow to find a suitable placement for their fellowship year. However, all placements are made at the discretion of the host institution. CFR cannot guarantee placement at any particular agency, office, or organization.
Fellows seeking to spend the fellowship year working at a U.S. government agency likely will need to obtain a security clearance. The process for obtaining a security clearance can be lengthy, and the U.S. government alone determines when a clearance can be granted. Because of the time needed to obtain a security clearance, affected fellows need to be flexible about their fellowship start date and/or be willing to begin their fellowships in a position that does not require a security clearance. Placements at international organizations, academic institutions, think tanks, and on Capitol Hill typically do not require security clearances.
To ensure that national security remains a focus within the program, each year two of the awardees whose proposed research focuses on existing or emerging national security threats are given the special designation of International Affairs Fellow in National Security.
Please note that the 2022–23 fellowship may be subject to limitations on business travel, relocation, and on-site placement due to COVID-19.
Selection as an IAF is based on the following criteria: achievements and promise, depth and breadth of professional experience, firm grounding in foreign policy and international relations, and the quality of the application proposal. The proposal is judged on its importance, 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. An IAF selection committee reviews all applications to identify the most promising candidates. The twenty most qualified applicants are selected as finalists to be interviewed by IAF selection committee members. Based on the overall application and the results of the interviews, the selection committee chooses approximately eight to ten finalists as 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
Assistant Professor, Skidmore College
Economic Officer, U.S. Embassy Mexico City, U.S. Department of State
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego
Senior Fellow for Asia Strategy and Director, South Asia Program, Stimson Center
Executive Director, Protocol, Politico
* 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: