Fellowships can be great ways to kickstart your career, to reskill, to grow your professional networks, and to learn. As varied as the number of fellowships are the reasons for pursuing them, and truly no two fellowships are exactly alike.
Like military transition resources, one of the most difficult parts of navigating the fellowship ecosystem is finding out which one is right for you. Fortunately, Marine Corps JAG Steven Arango did the heavy lifting so you don’t have to and recently posted a list of foreign policy and national security fellowships.
What’s the Difference Between a Fellowship and an Internship?
Both internships and fellowships can advance a national security career. But while internships are typically focused on building experience and aimed toward entry level candidates, fellowships emphasize academic research, networking, and career advancement, with an academic focus at the graduate or post-graduate level.
Fellowships can be helpful at any stage in your career, but are especially critically as you look to transition from an entry-level role to refining your skills and advancing your expertise. Within national security and foreign policy, they can help you break out of stovepipes and see how work gets done within a different agency or organization.
The ASG Rising Leaders Program is a year-long program, in which “participants have the unique opportunity to learn from key decisionmakers—and each other—under the aegis of the Aspen Strategy Group. The curriculum includes attending the Aspen Security Forum, participating in a tailored Aspen leadership seminar, joining discussions with preeminent foreign policy experts, co-authoring policy papers with their peers for digital publication, and much more. At the culmination of the program, the Rising Leaders will join a lifetime network of alumni to further connect with other bold thinkers in national security.”
The National Security Fellows Program is a “12-month program that supports the aspirations of promising 30-40 year old professionals by providing networking, skill-building workshops, and roundtable conversations with high-level experts. The programming, which takes place on a monthly basis in Washington D.C., provides Fellows with an opportunity to participate in: Intimate, off-the-record dinners with high-level government officials and ambassadors, roundtable conversations on pressing national security challenges with issue experts, skill-building sessions with industry insiders, mentorship and collaboration opportunities with FDD scholars”, and more.
The Young Leaders Program is a “program [that] builds lasting ties between leaders on both sides of the Atlantic — during the program, and also by engaging with the broader Young Leaders alumni community. The Foundation organizes events, panels and get-togethers throughout the year, both online and in person. Even though Young Leaders live in various cities, we ask that Young Leaders remain engaged in the community and contribute to the activities of the Foundation during the two-year program (and beyond!). For more information, please see the Young Leaders Responsibilities Charter. The Foundation reserves the right to withdraw a Young Leader from the program if they do not abide by the charter.”
The Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Leaders Fellowship is a “year-long, part-time professional development fellowship aims to bring together young professionals across sectors within the national security field to learn best practices and lessons in leadership. Next Gen fellows will have the opportunity to engage with thought leaders on leadership principles and national security through various engagements, including a monthly dinner series. Past speakers include Secretary Madeleine Albright, General Stanley McChrystal, Secretary Jeh Johnson, Congressman Mike Gallagher, and Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins. The program culminates in a week-long international study tour to delve deeper into national security issues and leadership.”
Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics “provides a unique historical lens to study contemporary ethics in the professions. FASPE offers fellowships to students pursuing professional degrees in business, journalism, law, medicine, seminary, and design & technology, as well as to early-career professionals in these fields. Fellows in each of FASPE’s six programs spend two intensive weeks in Germany and Poland, visiting Auschwitz and key historical sites in Berlin and Krakow, and participating in rigorous seminars led by experts in their respective fields. Fellows begin their studies by examining the roles their professional counterparts played in Germany and elsewhere from 1933-1945, and then draw on historical, cultural, philosophical, literary and discipline-specific sources to explore the ethical issues facing their fields today.”
The Young Strategists Forum “seeks to develop a new generation of strategic thinkers and equip them with the skills to successfully navigate a world in flux. Since the inaugural Young Strategists Forum in March 2012, GMF has built a vibrant program centered on the theme of the US-Japan alliance and security dynamics in the Indo-Pacific region. Held in Tokyo, the program emphasizes the importance of pursuing purposeful grand strategic objectives through an innovative combination of lectures, a 36-hour simulation exercise, meetings with policy makers, diplomats, senior journalists and leading academics, and a study tour that includes a visit to a military facility.”
The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, “affiliated with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn, is a non-partisan interdisciplinary institute dedicated to preserving and promoting ethics and the rule of law in national security, warfare, and democratic governance. CERL draws from the study of law, philosophy, and ethics to answer the difficult questions that arise in domestic and transnational crises and conflicts.”
The Millennium Fellowship “is a year-long, high-impact leadership accelerator for rising leaders from around the world and across sectors. Through our program, accomplished global professionals with both demonstrated achievement and reserves of potential sharpen their leadership abilities, increase their capacity for meaningful impact, and build community. Fellows complete a curriculum comprised of world-class leadership development resources and have access to the Atlantic Council’s geopolitical expertise, global networks, and international reach.”
AEI Leadership Network “is an exclusive policy education and professional development program for state-based, mid-career executives in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. This program represents a unique opportunity for leaders around the country to participate in our work and help us to increase opportunity for our fellow citizens.”
The White House Fellows Program
The National Security Institute Fellows are “national security practitioners and industry leaders that draw on diverse experiences from the intelligence community, government, private sector, and academia. Through policy papers, panel discussions, and other scholarship, our Fellows will contribute to a crucial discussion of the legal and practical challenges facing the U.S. intelligence, defense, law enforcement, homeland security, and cybersecurity communities. These experts and scholars will support NSI’s educational mission and will help ensure that NSI leads the debate on critical issues facing our nation in the upcoming year.”
Jamestown’s Young Professionals Program is a “seasonal lecture series that meets monthly and provides young working professionals aspiring for a career in US foreign policy, or in the early stages of their career, the opportunity to engage and interact with current and former senior-ranking US policymakers, diplomats and military officials. The 2022-2023 lecture series will focus on policymaking and statecraft.”
The Strategy and Statecraft Fellowship “will comprise monthly dinners on key topics in foreign policy, national security, and strategic thought. Dinners will feature participation from current and former senior government officials as well as experts representing diverse perspectives and backgrounds. The program will conclude with the Strategy and Statecraft Summit in January 2023 at a venue outside of Washington, D.C. The summit will be an intensive multi-day experience, combining an extended war game or simulation, scenario-based discussions, and lectures to tie together the program’s themes and provide Fellows an opportunity to apply the program’s lessons in a professionally relevant manner.”
The Nuclear Scholars Initiative “aims to provide top graduate students and young professionals from around the country with a unique venue to interact and dialogue with senior experts on nuclear weapons issues. Those accepted into the program are hosted once per month over the course of six months at CSIS in Washington, DC where they participate in daylong workshops.”
The Artificial Intelligence Lab “is a six-week seminar series that introduces participants to foundational topics in AI: what is machine learning; how do neural networks work; what are the current and future applications of autonomous intelligent systems; who are currently the main players in AI; and what will AI mean for the nation’s national security. Each seminar is led by top technologists and scholars drawn from the private, public, and non-profit sectors and a critical component of the Lab is an interactive exercise, in which participants are given an opportunity to take a hands-on role on computers to work through some of the major questions surrounding artificial intelligence. Due to COVID-19, these sessions are offered virtually. When health guidance permits, these sessions will return in-person at the Wilson Center.”
The Emissary Program, “a play on the spelling of ‘emissary’, eMMissaries (the double M is used to denote MilitaryMentors) are industry leaders who are screened, selected, and trained through a six-month cohort style leader(ship) developmental curriculum to become our ‘virtuous insurgency’ for mentorship. eMMissaries represent us in positive ways, increase organizational awareness, and seek opportunities to influence and develop others.”
Emerging as a Global Leader Experience (EaGLE) Program “accelerates the careers of emerging leaders working in national security and public service. The program provides participants with intensive leadership development based on theories of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. Over the course of several virtual immersive workshop sessions, participants gain experience with design thinking, lean startup methods, strengths-based leadership, and professional networking strategies to help them maximize impact. EaGLE alumni gain a diverse community and support system that encourages continued growth beyond the program.”
The HillVets LEAD Program “ is to assist in the professional development and growth of Military Veterans, spouses, and survivors; active-duty Service Members, Guardsmen and Reservists; Capitol Hill or Executive Branch staffers; and VSO employees into the greater policy and politics ecosystem by tools, networking, mentorship, and experience necessary to take on leadership positions in policy on Capitol Hill or in the Greater DC Area.”
The Military Fellows Program “pairs PIPS research fellows with active duty military officers associated with the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum. These highly experienced officers mentor and lend strategic expertise to the PIPS students during their academic year of research. During the fall semester, military fellows—through campus visits and the online PIPS Jefferson Forum—help students to identify emerging international challenges, comment on white paper proposals, and introduce students to area experts in the national security community. In the spring, the fellows provide analytical feedback on students’ policy recommendations and edits to white papers.”
National Security and Counterterrorism Fellowship “brings together the most promising rising leaders engaged in national security and counterterrorism work in the Five Eyes partner nations. The McCain Institute will select a group of character-driven leaders as fellows — young women and men of extraordinary achievement and promise who have demonstrated their commitment to national security and public service. The program prepares these individuals for future leadership opportunities and builds a professional network that connects them in a meaningful and enduring way.”
The McCain Global Leaders Program supports character-driven leaders from around the world who embody Senator John McCain’s legacy of serving a cause greater than oneself. Structured as a 10-month fellowship and experiential learning experience, each cohort will include 25 diverse leaders from around the world who are working “in the arena” to advance democracy, human rights and freedom. The program is designed to advance each Leader’s personal and professional leadership journey and impact by providing training, resources, and access to highly relevant regional and global networks with goal of preparing today’s leaders to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
The USGLC “builds upon its existing networks across the country to recruit a diverse, bipartisan group of up-and-comers for an exciting year-long leadership training, cultivation and engagement program. Each year, the USGLC’s network of next generation leaders multiplies with a new class, deepening the bench of prominent young voices across the country who support strategic investments in America’s development and diplomacy programs. Participants interact directly with policymakers and opinion leaders, launching their advocacy education with a seat on a USGLC State Advisory Committee at the culmination of the program.”
The Successful Presidential Leadership Scholar “challenges Scholars to develop their leadership skills in an environment in which individuals’ experiences are seen as strengths and are respected, supported, and valued. Within this welcoming and inclusive climate, Scholars are expected to do the following both in and out of the program: Engage in deep reflection about their personal leadership development, including acknowledging habits of exclusion and creating new habits of inclusion. Commit to meaningful interactions with others whose life experiences and perspectives are different than their own, even if those interactions are uncomfortable. Include diverse perspectives in the framing of challenges and consideration of responses. Work to ensure the full participation of others in influencing change. Seek understanding with others, especially when they disagree.”
The Great Leaders & Great Biographies Fellowship “will use the rigorous study of great biography to investigate a wider set of questions about geopolitics, leadership, and human character.Guest speakers will participate in the seminar, as well, including both scholars and national security leaders. Fellows will have the opportunity to reflect on the role of individual personality in history and what makes for great leadership—and also great biography.”
The CXO Fellows Program “is a VIRTUAL professional development program that engages the next generation of federal leaders in acquisition/procurement, financial management/budget, human capital, information technology, and data. Throughout the year-long program, CXO Fellows have the opportunity to grow professionally and build a diverse network of rising leaders from across the Federal Government.”
New America’s Fellows Program “invests in thinkers—journalists, scholars, filmmakers, and public policy analysts—who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day. New America fellows are selected on a highly competitive basis and serve—most on an adjunct basis, some full-time—for a one-year term. During that period, we aim to give them an intellectual home where they have the time, space, and resources to pursue their projects; a community where they can learn from one another; and opportunities to engage with others at New America and help shape the longer-term agenda and focus of our organization.”
The Wilson Center’s Foreign Policy Fellowship Program “is a six-week seminar series that encourages Fellows to debate key global issues with some of the nation’s leading foreign policy thinkers and practitioners. FPFP also encourages staffers from across the aisle to network and work together through our interactive session of the program involving a foreign policy roleplay scenario.”
Formerly known as the “Publishing Fellowship Program,” the Rising Experts Program is a roughly year-long writing initiative designed to help young professionals enhance their writing skills, publish articles, and build a portfolio of work. By working collaboratively with a team of editors, this initiative provides young professionals with the editorial support needed to craft compelling analysis and op-ed writing. Through YPFP’s network, Rising Experts have the opportunity to publish with several different outlets.
The Technology and National Security Fellowship “is an opportunity for technologists and entrepreneurs to serve their country by embedding with key decision-makers at the top levels of the U.S. Government. Recent advanced-degree graduates serve their country through this one-year Department of Defense fellowship in the Pentagon or Capitol Hill to address technology and national security policy issues. Fellows embed with host offices within U.S. Government to provide advice and emerging expertise for matters at the critical intersection of national security and technology.”
The Truman Project has over 2000 members. Membership is competitive and by application. There are three member cohorts: Fellows, Partners, and the Defence Council.
The National Security & Sino-American Technology Competition Fellowship “is a new fellowship “that seeks to educate the next generation of East Asia strategists and national security generalists about how technology will shape U.S.-China strategic rivalry. Just as America’s greatest strategists of the Cold War – from Henry Kissinger to Paul Nitze – were highly knowledgeable about the nuclear revolution and space and missile breakthroughs, so, too, do our young strategists need to understand the technologies that matter most in Sino-American competition.”
The Public Interest Fellowship (TPIF) “operates four programs: the flagship two-year Public Interest Fellowship, the Security and Strategy Seminar, the Antonin Scalia Fellowship, and the American Capitalism Seminar. Through the four programs, TPIF seeks to identify, develop, and elevate future leaders devoted to liberty and the public interest. Our programs build a tightly knit community of political, policy, and journalism professionals that can lead public discussion and undertake political action.”
The National Defense Fellowship (NDF) “is an intensive joint program run in partnership between the Alexander Hamilton Society and the Ronald Reagan Institute. The program aims to educate ~20 advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and has two primary components, the Peace Through Strength Boot Camp and the Reagan National Defense Forum.”
Defense Ventures “is an 8-week fellowship that identifies emerging innovators from the Department of Defense and facilitates industry immersions at venture capital firms, incubators, and startups across the United States. Shift runs this program in partnership with AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Air Force, who created this opportunity for members of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Space Force, Coast Guard, Reserve, National Guard and DoD civilians.”
The annual German-American Young Leaders Conference “offers participants the opportunity to engage in an intensive and interdisciplinary exchange on current transatlantic issues and to build both professional and personal bridges across the Atlantic. Leading public figures are invited to join the group as guest speakers. Pressing domestic, bilateral, and global issues are discussed at the conference. Most recently, the focus has been on the rise of populism, for example, or on the socio-economic implications of the digital transformation.”
The Heritage Foundation’s George C. Marshall Fellows “program provides exceptional young professionals with the opportunity to appreciate the development of grand strategy and the practice of strategic leadership. The program strives to provide a comprehensive overview of national security principles and to explain the application of those principles in real-life situations.”
The Carnegie Ethics Fellowship “is a space for talented professionals to develop their capabilities and be examples of values-driven responsible leadership. Fellows will collaborate on projects curated by Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, where they will have the opportunity to contribute to work that has deep connections to both New York and the broader world. The two-year Fellowship is structured to develop the next generation of ethical leaders from business, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations. The Fellowship is part of Carnegie Council’s significant commitment to developing ethics in leadership and to the communities of experts that work toward this end, aligning the power of decision-making with reflective right action.”
Harold W. Rosenthal Fellowship in International Relations “is a prestigious program that offers our country’s most outstanding and civic-minded graduate students in international affairs the opportunity to spend a summer working to solve some of our biggest national and global challenges.”
The Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship Program “invites recent college and graduate school alumni to apply for full-time, six-to-nine month fellowships in Washington, DC. Outstanding individuals will be selected to work with nonprofit, public-interest organizations addressing peace and security issues. Applications are especially encouraged from candidates with a strong interest in these issues who have prior experience with public-interest activism or advocacy.”
CSIS Fellowship: Enriching the Future of Foreign Policy is a semester-long fellowship intended for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors at their university from all academic backgrounds who are interested in foreign affairs and want to prepare themselves for a career in the policy field.
The Belfer Center National Security Fellowship “is a 10-month research fellowship for U.S. military officers at the Lt Col/Colonel rank and their civilian counterparts who show promise of rising to the most challenging leadership positions within their organizations.”
The Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy (AILA) at CSIS “offers its flagship leadership program, the AILA International Fellowship, to equip aspiring global leaders to be effective and ethical changemakers. This transformational experience gives participants the tools and agile mindset to enact innovative solutions to the challenges of today’s volatile world. Through an intensive and interactive week of seminars and experiential learning, AILA International Fellows gain a deeper understanding of the complex global dynamics and moral constraints they face as leaders.”
The Executive Leaders Program (ELP) provides a unique educational opportunity for senior-level homeland security and public safety leaders at the forefront of the nation’s homeland security mission. This non-degree, graduate-level educational program develops leaders responsible for homeland security and public safety by enhancing critical thinking skills in a collaborative and cross-functional environment. Participants in this program represent a diverse group of federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, and private sector leaders who become enhanced decision-makers and innovative collaborators
The International Strategy Forum (ISF) is an initiative of Schmidt Futures that bets early on the next generation of problem solvers with extraordinary potential in geopolitics, innovation, and public leadership. Chaired by Fareed Zakaria and Jared Cohen, ISF seeks out non-traditional talent across boardrooms, newsrooms, laboratories, policy-making councils, foundations, and beyond. Through convenings, mentorship, and more, ISF equips rising leaders in technology and international affairs with knowledge, network, and resources to tackle hard global problems