The Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

The Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

The Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

The USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program seeks to attract outstanding individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). If you want to work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times —  injustice, climate change, health, conflict, and poverty – foreign policy interests and reflect the American people’s compassion and support of human dignity. The Payne Fellowship, which provides up to $104,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships, and professional development activities, is a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service.

Program Overview: The Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

The Payne Fellowship Program awards up to 30 fellowships valued at up to $52,000 annually for a two-year program. The award includes up to $24,000 per year toward tuition and mandatory fees for completion of a two-year master’s degree at a U.S. institution; a $18,000 stipend for each academic year for room, board, books and other education-related expenses; and up to $10,000 per year in stipend, housing, transportation, and related expenses for summer placements.

The United Nations Nippon Foundation Fellowship – Fully Funded

At the conclusion of two years of study, the Payne Fellow is expected to obtain a degree in international development or another area of relevance to the work of the USAID Foreign Service at a U.S. graduate or professional school approved by the Payne Program. Fellows who successfully complete the Payne Program and USAID Foreign Service entry requirements will receive appointments as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

2024 Application Deadline: Thursday, October 26th, 2023, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

The program expects to have all documents to be submitted electronically. Should applicants have insuperable problems submitting a document electronically, they can consult with program staff about alternate methods (paynefellows@howard.edu). However, we strongly encourage you to submit documents electronically.

Selection Process: The Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

A panel of individuals with experience in the USAID Foreign Service and academia makes selections for the Payne Fellowship.  The selection panel will consider candidates’ academic work, statements of interest, letters of recommendation, and honors and awards, as well as their community, extracurricular, and leadership activities.  Consideration will be given to qualified applicants who, in addition to outstanding leadership skills and academic achievement, demonstrate financial need.


The Payne selection panel will choose finalists in the beginning of December 2023. Candidates selected for final consideration will be invited to participate in the virtual final-round interviews in mid-January.   The program will strive to complete the selection process and make offers to thirty fellows soon after the interview.

Applicants should carefully review the USAID Foreign Service requirements for medical and security clearances.  Participation in the Payne Program is conditional upon successful completion of pre-employment procedures specified by the U.S. Agency for International Development, including background investigations for a security clearance, medical examinations (to include spouse and eligible family members if applicable) and drug tests. Failure to meet medical and security requirements may result in an applicant’s disqualification from the fellowship program and reimbursement to the U.S. government of financial assistance paid in connection with the applicant’s education. 

For more information, see http://www.usaid.gov/work-usaid/careers/foreign-service/foreign-service-officer-faq.Selection Process Timeline:

  • 2024 Payne Application Opens
    • July 20, 2023 
  • 2024 Payne Application Close 
    • Thursday, October 26, 2023
  • Finalist Notified 
    • December 8, 2023 
  • Final Round Interviews 
    • January 16 – 19, 2024 
  • Fellows Award Notifications Sent 
    • January 22, 2024 

Eligibility Requirements: The Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program

  1. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
  2. Applicants must be seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall of 2024 for a two-year program at a U.S. university. They can be in the senior year of their undergraduate studies, graduating by June 2024, or they can be college graduates.
  3. Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.


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