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Welcome to the USAID Science for Development Fellowships online application.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has established the Science for Development Fellowships program (SDF), as a new two-year experiential professional development opportunity for American scientists and engineers to work at USAID and apply their expertise and research skills to inform the U.S. government’s international development activities and support their success. The inaugural cohort of SDF Fellows will begin October 2024.

USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people progress beyond assistance. Learn more about USAID at https://www.usaid.gov.

USmax Corporation (USmax) manages the SDF program on behalf of USAID. Please send questions to the SDF staff at USAID-SDF-INFO@usmax.com.

Register to Apply for the Inaugural 2024-2026 Class!

If interested in applying, it's important to be aware of, fully understand, and be prepared to accept the requirements and obligations of being a Science for Development Fellow. Please carefully review this website for details regarding program elements, eligibility, application components, selection process and scoring, mandatory U.S. citizenship, selective service registration, and security clearance requirements. This information is provided to help interested individuals determine whether the fellowship is a good fit (now or in the future) and to support the development of a competitive application.

SDF Application Information Session

Please join us for our last information session prior to the USAID SDF 29 February deadline on:
23rd February from 10:30 am - 11:30 am EST - Registration Link

Fellowship Program Goals

Expanding and improving capacity for the application of science, technology, and innovation across USAID’s development sectors is vital to achieving the Agency’s broad and ambitious global development objectives. The Science for Development Fellowships (SDF) program is designed to enhance and diversify USAID's S&T workforce through three strategies:

  1. Increasing direct application of S&T knowledge and expertise at USAID by engaging diverse cohorts of Science for Development Fellows across the programming of the Agency each year.
  2. Strengthening the professional capabilities of participating scientists and engineers to inform, develop, and advance evidence-based practices and policies that improve international development activities and results.
  3. Establishing a network of diverse higher education institutions (HEIs), including Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), committed to advancing STEMM education that contributes to creating solutions to global challenges, and supports SDF to leverage the experience and skills of their STEMM graduate students, postdocs, and faculty.

Two-Year Commitment

SDF provides a two-year immersive experience with expectation for commitment to and completion of the full 24 months. Fellows are assigned to specific USAID offices for the two years. Fellows who complete the two-year period in good standing may have the opportunity to continue for a full third year at USAID as an Advisory Fellow.

Washington, DC-Based

As an immersive S&T workforce augmentation and professional development initiative, SDF is Washington, DC-based. Fellows are assigned to in-person placements with offices at USAID, and all fellows must be located in the DC area (relocation support is provided). Fellows will operate on the schedule of their assigned office; USAID generally operates on a hybrid, three-day in office and two-day remote work week.

Career Stage

The program is generally focused on early- to mid-career scientists and engineers, from those completing a qualifying degree by the start of the fellowship up to approximately 10 years beyond receipt of a qualifying degree.

International Development Experience

Applicants are not required to have prior experience in international development. However, it is important to clarify through the personal statement (and interview if selected as a semi-finalist) genuine interest in applying science and technical skills at USAID and to international development efforts.

Qualifying Disciplines

The SDF program is open to individuals who hold a qualifying doctorate degree across a broad range of STEMM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math, medicine), including social sciences. In addition, individuals who hold a master’s in engineering management (MEng) or a master’s of science (MS) in an engineering discipline are eligible (such as an MS in biomedical engineering, electrical and software engineering, environmental engineering, industrial and systems engineering, material and sustainability engineering, mechanical engineering).

  • Computer and Data Sciences (including artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, cybersecurity, data analytics)
  • Engineering (for example, civil engineering, biomedical engineering, atmospheric sciences, environmental engineering, materials sciences)
  • Interdisciplinary Sciences (such as climate science, environmental science, geography, international relations, oceanography, urban policy or planning)
  • Life Sciences (including agriculture, biology, botany, ecology)
  • Mathematical Sciences (for example, astronomy, pure and applied mathematics, statistics)
  • Physical Sciences (such as chemistry, earth sciences, hydrology, physics)
  • Public Health and Medicine (including dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, veterinary medicine)
  • Social Sciences (for example anthropology, economics, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology)

The qualifying degree must be completed by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on June 1, 2024. This includes any elements required for completion of the degree, such as submission of final thesis text and sign-off from doctoral committee members. Proof of completion is required.

U.S. Citizenship

Applicants must hold U.S. Citizenship (permanent residency and green card status does not qualify). SDF welcomes applicants with dual citizenship. It is important to understand that dual citizenship may lead to security clearance delays. Security clearance delays may affect the ability to begin a fellowship placement.

Security Clearance

To begin and remain in the fellowship program, all finalists who are offered and accept a fellowship position must be able to obtain and maintain either a Public Trust background investigation approval (also known as a Facility Access), or a Security Clearance, which is dependent on the level designated for their USAID fellowship host office. Fellowships will begin on October 1, 2024, only after a finalist secures either a designated Public Trust/Facility Clearance or an interim Security Clearance by September 15, 2024. Fellows may not defer if a significant investigation delay is encountered.

Selective Service Registration (male applicants only)

All male fellowship applicants must confirm that they have registered for selective service, as required of male citizens of the U.S. Government. Failure to meet the selective service requirement will result in disqualification from the SDF program. For information about selective service registration, go to: https://www.sss.gov/. 

SDF Inclusion Commitment, Disability Policy, and Diversity Statement

The Science for Development Fellowships program is committed to upholding USAID’s Gender, Inclusive Development PolicyDisability Policy, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategy through its design and execution across all operations. SDF strives for diversity in its many forms in the fellowship classes and in all processes and partnerships (including an emphasis on Minority Serving Institutions in the HEI Network). SDF applies monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) data to enable and enhance equity, inclusion and accessibility to the opportunities of the fellowship.

Application Components and Steps

A complete application for a USAID Science for Development Fellowship includes the following components and steps. Applications that do not include all components below will be designated as ineligible.

  1. Registration with Contact Information
  2. Eligibility Confirmations
  3. Applicant Profile Details
  4. Education History and Qualifying Degree (applicant must request degree verification documentation from university and upload to application by the deadline)
  5. Experience, Employment, and Professional Record (submission of maximum 5-page Curriculum Vitae)
  6. Brief Bio (250 word-limit)
  7. Personal Statement (800-word limit)
  8. Additional Skills/Languages
  9. Recommendations (three letters must be submitted directly by designated references via the online SDF application portal)
  10. Demographic Data (optional)
  11. Verifications of Commitment and Availability, Ethics Statements and Guidelines and Conflict of Interest Acknowledgement, Understanding of Fellowship Employment Status, Application Accuracy
  12. Final Review
  13. Submit

Helpful Tips

  • Create and save electronic copies of the brief bio, Curriculum Vitae (CV), and personal statement (instead of only typing them directly into the online application), so they may be accessed in case of any technical challenges.
  • Write the bio and personal statement in a separate document using a plain text application, such as Notepad or Rich Text Format (RTF). Then copy/paste the text into the available boxes in the application. Using a plain text application will avoid carryover of embedded formatting that may create layout problems and/or increase word count.
  • Remove double spacing between sentences and use only one space between sentences and paragraphs to avoid spaces adding to the word count.
  • Save the CV as a PDF once completed and formatted and upload it as a PDF to maintain its appearance and format.
  • Contact three references and confirm the best email for them to receive instructions and reminders from the SDF online application system.Provide references with a copy of the brief bio, CV, and personal statement well in advance of the application deadline so that references will have complete information to compose and submit a supportive letter of recommendation. Reference letters will be accepted only via the online system. Letters mailed or emailed separately will not be accepted. Please inform your references to check their junk mail, quarantine folder or spam filter for an email from noreply@usaid-sdf.usmax.com with the instructions to submit the letter of recommendation. The email message from the online application system does not always go through directly to a reference’s inbox.

Selection Process

The SDF program seeks highly skilled scientists and engineers who are interested in direct application of their expertise to address global development challenges and wish to broaden their experience and circles of influence through a challenging and rewarding term of engagement in the federal government at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, DC.

While fellows will be drawn from different disciplines and backgrounds, common characteristics that define Science for Development Fellows as a whole include scientific/technical curiosity and creativity, a spirit of collaboration and interdisciplinary connectivity to tackle challenges and achieve goals, and a determination to make a difference.

The selection process involves the following steps:

  1. Initial Review: All applications submitted by the deadline are reviewed by SDF staff to confirm eligibility.
  2. Scoring: All eligible applications are read and scored by independent Selection Panels (each application will be reviewed and scored by a minimum of three panelists using designated selection criteria and scoring structure).
  3. Z-score Ranking: A Z-score formula is applied following application scoring to rank order candidates.
  4. Semi-finalist Designation: The 60 top-scoring applicants are designated as semi-finalists, and each is invited to participate in a 30-minute online interview with a Selection Panel (generally eight panelists). Semi-finalists are informed of the interview structure and provided guidance and tips for successful online interviews.
  5. Selection Interview: To determine the pool of finalists to move forward to the placement process, panelists first interview, then score again, and rank semi-finalists using the designated selection criteria and scoring structure.
  6. Finalist Notification: Finalists are notified and provided dates, information, and guidance on participation in the placement interview process, including a list of USAID offices participating to host fellows.

Criteria and Scoring

The following criteria and scoring system across three areas will be used to evaluate eligible applications. These should be considered in crafting the brief bio and personal statement. References will be informed of the selection criteria and scoring to inform development of letters of recommendation. A perfect score is 100 points.

Record of Accomplishment

40 points maximum

Academic/S&T Achievement (1-30 points)

Demonstrated scientific/technical achievement of the highest quality, analytical skill, and problem-solving ability appropriate to career stage.

Scientific/Technical Curiosity (1-10 points)

Evidence of intellectual curiosity, creative energy, and inventive, resourceful approaches to research and projects.

Fellowship Match

30 points maximum

Programmatic Alignment (1-15 points)

Alignment between personal and professional goals and the SDF objectives and opportunities, with clear rationale for applying to the fellowship. Capacity to make connections between science and technology and broader economic, social, political contexts and issues with ability to translate and apply theoretical concepts into practice to address challenges and forge solutions.

Collaboration and Communication (1-15 points)

Confidence, maturity, and self-direction with the capacity, initiative, and flexibility to work well independently and in interdisciplinary groups, communicate clearly and persuasively, and be receptive and respectfully responsive to others’ input.

Leadership and Service

30 points maximum

Focus on Contribution (1-15 points)

Initiative to apply personal talents and S&T acumen to catalyze positive change for society, and to advance international development results.

Character and Leadership (1-15 points)

Sincere and demonstrated capacity for S&T leadership; self-awareness, empathy, and flexibility to tackle issues beyond areas of expertise, establish realistic expectations, and work with a range of non-scientific stakeholders; open-minded and motivated to take advantage of emerging opportunities, persevere through challenges, and operate with integrity.

The demonstration of ability in these three areas is through academic and employment record, research grants and projects, publications, and honors and awards detailed in the CV; and through examples of engagement in extracurricular activities at academic institutions, in employment or beyond, and the roles and accomplishments in those efforts highlighted in the brief bio, personal statement, and summary of professional/leadership activities. For example, involvement in university governance, with community groups, professional associations, advisory and editorial committees, nonprofit organizations, or outreach and teaching to non-scientific audiences. Achievement and potential across all three of these criteria areas also will be ascertained through letters of recommendation.

Fellowship Experience, Benefits, and Opportunities

The USAID Science for Development Fellowships (SDF) program is a new two-year, immersive professional development opportunity for American scientists and engineers to work at USAID and apply their expertise in science and technology and their research skills to inform and enhance the U.S. government’s international development activities and support their success. The program’s many benefits include:

  • Direct experience in evidence-based federal decision-making, policy, and practice addressing global development challenges across a broad range of issues
  • Skill-building trainings, mentoring, and career support for post-fellowship pursuits
  • International travel to engage in USAID initiatives around the world
  • Expansion of professional contacts and networks
  • Competitive salary and benefits
  • A path to provide valuable public service to the U.S. government that benefits our nation and people around the world

USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance. USAID works in over 100 countries to: Promote Global Health, Support Global Stability, Provide Humanitarian Assistance, Catalyze Innovation and Partnership, and Empower Women and Girls. USAID is leveraging the promise of innovation, technology and research to bring about positive change and solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. USAID partners with entrepreneurs, small businesses, researchers, universities, technology companies, government, civil society, faith-based organizations, and development professionals to keep the Agency on the forefront of science and technology, incorporate breakthrough innovations, and apply the best tools to emerging priorities. Evidence-based decision making and the latest technical solutions can be applied to address many of USAID’s priority technical areas. Learn more about USAID and the technical areas of focus at https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do

Fellowship assignments will vary depending on placements at USAID, and include a wide range of projects to tap fellows’ scientific and technical expertise and research skills, such as: supporting program or activity management, organizing and participating in site visits, providing input to the development of policies and strategies, designing new programs, creating communication products to translate S&T information for development objectives, serving on scientific committees or technical working groups, conducting research or analyses, engaging in interagency collaborations, and much more.

This immersive fellowship opportunity is located in Washington, DC, with placements at the USAID headquarters.

The fellowships operate on a hybrid schedule as mandated by USAID, with up to two days each week working from home, in line with current health and safety policies. Individual host offices will determine the specifics of the work schedule.

The Science for Development Fellowships are two-year opportunities (24 months). Fellows who successfully complete two years are eligible to serve an additional full third year at USAID in the capacity of Advisory Fellow, based upon mutual agreement with the SDF program, the USAID host office, and the fellow.

Each fellowship class begins on October 1. The inaugural class will start on October 1, 2024, and end on September 30, 2026. Individuals accepting a fellowship must sign an agreement acknowledging this two-year commitment.

No. The Science for Development Fellowships are available only as 24-month opportunities.

Yes. Fellows will have the option, if interested, to complete one detail or rotation with another USAID Operating Unit (may include another Mission, Bureau, Independent Office (M/B/IOs)); another office/team within the fellow’s existing placement Bureau; or within their host office/team working on a unique developmental assignment. These short-term opportunities will range between one to three months, and may be full-time or part-time, depending on the needs of the host office and rotation office.

SDF offers a highly competitive salary and benefits package. Depending upon career stage (based on years of applicable, related professional experience), fellows will receive salaries equivalent to the U.S. federal General Schedule (GS) starting from GS-12, Step 1 at $99,200 annually up to GS-13, Step 7 at $141,557 per year. Benefits include:

  • Health, dental, and vision insurance
  • Metro transit benefits for the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) metropolitan area
  • 401(k) retirement plan with employer contributions
  • Short-term and long-term disability coverage
  • Minimum of 7 days of paid sick leave and 14 days of paid personal leave per year
  • Paid time off for all federal holidays
  • Paid family/medical leave for the birth, adoption or foster of a new child, or family medical emergency
  • Relocation support of $4,500 if moving from more than 50 miles away

No. Science for Development Fellows will not be federal employees at USAID, and they will not receive U.S. government employee benefits. Fellows will hold the status of Institutional Support Contractors and will be employees of USmax Corporation – the contractor managing the Science for Development Fellowships on behalf of USAID – or employees of Social Solutions International, which is a subcontractor to USmax Corporation for the SDF program.

The SDF program will strive to be flexible to accommodate paid leave or unpaid time taken (e.g., family leave), depending on agreement with the USAID host office.

No. Qualification for PSLF is determined by a variety of factors including the classification of the employer. SDF Fellows will be hired through for-profit companies, and therefore they will not be eligible for PSLF.


Eligibility and Application

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, hold a qualifying STEMM degree, be able to obtain the designated background investigation approval/security clearance (depending on fellowship host office) in the allocated time frame, and have completed selective service registration (male applicants only). The fellowship requires a commitment to complete the full 24-month fellowship at USAID, and to be located in the Washington, DC area.

The Call for Applications for the 2024-26 class of Science for Development Fellowships will open January 15, 2024, with a deadline of February 29, 2024, at 11:59 p.m., ET.

The fellowships are open to individuals who hold a qualifying doctoral-level degree (or master’s in engineering) across a broad range of STEMM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math, medicine), including social sciences. Degrees in disciplines within the following broad academic fields are eligible: 

  • Computer and Data Sciences (including artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, cybersecurity, data analytics)
  • Engineering (for example, civil engineering, biomedical engineering, atmospheric sciences, environmental engineering, materials sciences)
  • Interdisciplinary Sciences (such as climate science, environmental science, geography, international relations, oceanography, urban policy or planning)
  • Life Sciences (including agriculture, biology, botany, ecology)
  • Mathematical Sciences (for example, astronomy, pure and applied mathematics, statistics)
  • Physical Sciences (such as chemistry, earth sciences, hydrology, physics)
  • Public Health and Medicine (including dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, veterinary medicine)
  • Social Sciences (for example anthropology, economics, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology)

The qualifying degree must be complete by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on June 1, 2024. This includes submission of final thesis text and sign-off from doctoral committee members. Proof of completion is required.

You may request verification via the National Student Clearinghouse using the Student Self-Service Verification: https://verify.studentclearinghouse.org/registration/landing-page. If your school participates in the Clearinghouse the name will appear when typed in, and the verification may be ordered (there may be a fee for this service). If your school does not appear on the list then you should contact your school's registrar's office for further assistance. If your school is closed or shut down, please contact the Department of Education within the state the school was located in. They will be able to tell you what open school has their records. If you have further questions click here and select Verification Services Help at the National Student Clearinghouse.

Yes. Applicants must hold U.S. citizenship (permanent residency and green card status do not qualify). The SDF program welcomes applicants with dual citizenship. It is important to understand that dual citizenship may lead to security clearance delays. Security clearance delays may affect the ability to start or keep a fellowship placement.

To begin and remain in the fellowship program, all finalists who are offered and accept a fellowship position must be able to obtain and maintain either a Public Trust background investigation approval (also known as a Facility Access), or a Security Clearance, which is dependent on the level designated for their USAID fellowship host office. Failure to meet the designated investigation approval requirement will result in disqualification from the SDF program.

Obtaining the designated investigation approval can take several months at minimum. The USmax Facility Security Officer (FSO) will provide guidance on the Public Trust and Security Clearance processes. However, the FSO is not involved in the actual investigation, processing or approval as that is a function of the U.S. government. Fellows are responsible for submitting complete, accurate information into the designated online forms within the allocated time frame, and for following up with appropriate parties to ensure that their investigation is progressing smoothly.

Fellowships will begin on October 1, 2024, only after securing either a designated Public Trust/Facility Clearance, or an interim Security Clearance by September 15, 2024. Fellows may not defer if a significant investigation delay is encountered.

For information about the Public Trust investigation see: https://www.usajobs.gov/help/faq/job-announcement/security-clearances/

For information about the security clearance process see: https://www.dcsa.mil/Personnel-Security/Background-Investigations-for-Applicants/Investigations-Clearance-Process/.

Yes. Scientists and engineers who are federal, state, or local government employees and meet all the eligibility criteria are welcome to apply. However, the fellowship may not be pursued as a detail from an existing position. If a government employee applies, it should be with the understanding that accepting a Science for Development Fellowship entails leaving the current government position and its related government benefits to be hired as an Institutional Support Contractor.

Yes. Scientists and engineers in federal Title 42 positions who meet all the eligibility criteria are welcome to apply. However, the fellowship may not be pursued as a detail from an existing Title 42 position. If an employee under Title 42 status applies, it should be with the understanding that accepting a Science for Development Fellowship entails leaving the Title 42 position and its related benefits to be hired as an Institutional Support Contractor.

Yes. Scientists and engineers who have participated in other fellowships at USAID who meet all the eligibility criteria for SDF are welcome to apply.

A complete application for a USAID Science for Development Fellowship includes the following components and steps. These are detailed in the application. Applications that do not include all components below will be designated as ineligible.

  1. Registration with Contact Information
  2. Eligibility Confirmations
  3. Applicant Profile Details
  4. Education History and Qualifying Degree (applicant must request degree verification documentation from university and upload to application by the deadline)
  5. Experience, Employment, and Professional Record (submission of maximum 5-page Curriculum Vitae)
  6. Brief Bio (250-word limit)
  7. Personal Statement (800-word limit)
  8. Additional Skills/Languages Information
  9. Recommendations (three letters must be submitted directly by the references via the online SDF application portal)
  10. Demographic Data (optional)
  11. Verifications of Commitment and Availability, Ethics Statements and Guidelines and Conflict of Interest Acknowledgement, Understanding of Fellowship Employment Status, Application Accuracy
  12. Final Review
  13. Submit

Before applying, it’s important to be aware of, fully understand, and be prepared to accept the requirements and obligations of being a Science for Development Fellow. Individuals interested in applying should carefully review the SDF online application site for details regarding program elements, eligibility, application components and advice, selection process and scoring, and mandatory U.S. citizenship, selective service registration, and security clearance requirements. This information is provided to help interested individuals determine whether the fellowship is a good fit (now or in the future)

To help keep your application on track for completion by the deadline, contact your references right away, inform them that you are applying for a fellowship and what you hope to gain and contribute, and confirm the best email address to contact them. Please inform your references to check their junk mail, quarantine folder or spam filter for an email from noreply@usaid-sdf.usmax.com with the instructions to submit the letter of recommendation. The email message from the online application system does not always go through directly to a reference’s inbox.

Also, as soon as possible pursue documentation that confirms you received a qualifying STEMM degree. The verification document must be uploaded as part of your application. You may request verification via the National Student Clearinghouse using the Student Self-Service Verification: https://verify.studentclearinghouse.org/registration/landing-page If your school participates in the Clearinghouse the name will appear when typed in, and the verification may be ordered (there may be a fee for this service). If your school does not appear on the list then you should contact your school's registrar's office for further assistance. If your school is closed or shut down, please contact the Department of Education within the state the school was located in. They will be able to tell you what open school has their records. If you have further questions click here and select Verification Services Help at the National Student Clearinghouse.

For additional details and advice on presenting a competitive application, please attend an online SDF application information session or view a posted recording.

Yes, there is no limit on the number of times an individual may apply for an SDF Fellowship. Often candidates are more competitive in a second or third application, as they have accumulated more experience to contribute. The online process makes this easy, as applications can be re-activated from prior submissions and simply updated as needed.


Selection

The selection process involves the following steps:

  1. Initial Review: All applications submitted by the deadline are reviewed by SDF staff to confirm eligibility.
  2. Scoring: All eligible applications are read and scored by independent Selection Panels (each application will be reviewed and scored by a minimum of three panelists using designated selection criteria and scoring structure).
  3. Z-score Ranking: A Z-score formula is applied following application scoring to rank order candidates.
  4. Semi-finalist Designation: The 60 top-scoring applicants are designated as semi-finalists, and each is invited to participate in a 30-minute online interview with a Selection Panel (generally eight panelists). Semi-finalists are informed of the interview structure and provided guidance and tips for successful online interviews.
  5. Selection Interview: To determine the pool of finalists to move forward to the placement process, panelists first interview, then score again, and rank semi-finalists using the designated selection criteria and scoring structure.
  6. Finalist Notification: Finalists are notified and provided dates, information, and guidance on participation in the placement interview process, including a list of USAID offices participating to host fellows.

All selection and placement interviews will be virtual.

Finalists will be notified by April 29, 2024.


Placement

In the inaugural SDF class starting October 2024, 15-20 fellowship slots are anticipated. The number will grow annually, with up to 40 SDF Fellows being placed at USAID.

No. Finalists must participate in the placement interview process and then receive an invitation from the SDF program staff based on a USAID office indicating that it wishes to host the finalist. Some finalists may not be chosen by a USAID host office for a placement. Finalists who are offered a placement must sign an agreement form indicating acceptance of all terms of the fellowship offer, including that it is contingent upon receiving the designated level of security clearance for the USAID host office in an acceptable timeframe.

Following selection interviews, the Panels designate up to 20 finalists to move forward to participate in Fellowship Placement Interview Week. PLEASE NOTE: Finalists must commit to participate in the designated Placement Interview Week indicated on the SDF Application site; no interviews will be conducted outside of the scheduled five-day period. The overall placement process entails the following steps:

  1. Placement Interview Scheduling: Finalists’ application materials are provided for review to USAID offices interested in hosting an SDF Fellow via a secure online platform. USAID host offices determine which finalists appear to be a good fit to mission and projects and schedule 30-minute interviews via an online placement scheduling platform.
  2. Interview Preparation: Finalists will be provided with fellowship position descriptions for the host offices that have requested to interview them. SDF program staff will conduct an online placement interview webinar for finalists to provide details on the overall placement process and guidance for success during Fellowship Placement Interview Week. Finalists should also conduct their own research on the host office(s) they will interview with to be well informed about mission and activities in advance of the placement interview(s).
  3. Finalist Preferences: Following placement interview week, finalists submit to SDF program staff a rank ordered list by preference of any USAID host office where they interviewed and would be happy to accept fellowship placement.
  4. Host Office Preferences: Following placement interviews, USAID offices submit to SDF program staff a rank ordered list of all interviewed finalists to whom the office would be happy to extend a placement offer.
  5. Placement Matching: SDF staff conduct a matching process striving to achieve matches of mutual, highest ranked interest between host offices and finalists. Finalists are asked to be open-minded about the offers they receive from host offices and requested to give them thorough consideration.
  6. Fellowship Offer Notification: SDF staff notify finalists verbally (via online meeting or phone call) of all offers that have been extended to them and discuss options. PLEASE NOTE: Designation as a finalist does not guarantee a placement and fellowship offer.
  7. Fellowship Offer Acceptance: Official fellowship acceptance agreement letters are sent to finalists who agree to one of the USAID hosting offers that has been extended. Once a fellowship acceptance letter is signed and submitted, then a finalist transitions to the status of fellow, with the understanding that the placement is contingent upon receipt of a security clearance by September 15 to enter the SDF program on October 1.
  8. Employment Confirmation: Following submission of a signed fellowship agreement, fellows will be processed as employees of USmax Corporation, the prime contractor managing the SDF program for USAID, or as employees of Social Solutions International, the USmax subcontractor for the USAID SDF program. The employment start date will be October 1, 2024.
  9. Background Investigation/Security Clearance: Confirmed fellows processed as USmax and/or SSI employees attend a mandatory background investigation/security clearance briefing session and then complete the designated background investigation or security clearance forms within three days to ensure that processing will begin no later than June 1. NOTE: Fellowships may begin on October 1 only after securing the required Public Trust, Facility Clearance, or interim Security Clearance by September 15.

All selection and placement interviews will be virtual.

Finalists will be provided fellowship position descriptions for the host offices that have requested to interview them. SDF program staff will conduct an online placement interview webinar for finalists to provide details on the overall placement process and guidance for success during Fellowship Placement Interview Week. Finalists should also conduct their own research on the host office(s) they will interview with to be well informed about mission and activities in advance of the placement interview(s).

Fellowship placement offers from USAID host offices will begin being communicated to finalists by the SDF program staff by May 23rd.

Participation in the SDF Fellowship entails a full-time commitment to engage in assignments at USAID. Therefore, in most cases, fellows will need to complete or transfer work on existing grants, research papers, and other projects before the fellowship starts. Per federal ethics guidelines, fellows may not serve as a Principal Investigator or in any other role on a federally funded grant while also serving as a fellow, as it would be a duplication of federal support. In addition, while serving as a fellow, it is not permitted to apply for federal grants, as this would represent a financial conflict of interest due to the federal funding of the Science for Development Fellowships. Fellows involved in research collaborations or any appointments, with or without government support or remuneration, must receive approval from the USAID Ethics Office and the USAID host office to continue that involvement. If the activity meets USAID ethics guidelines, then ongoing participation will be acceptable with scheduling outside of fellowship work hours. If the activity is not approved, then the fellow must take a hiatus from such involvement for the duration of the fellowship term.

The SDF program team focuses on helping fellows to prepare for success! The most critical action following acceptance of a USAID Science for Development Fellowship is to attend the scheduled background investigation/security clearance briefing and then complete the designated background investigation or security clearance forms and the required fingerprinting process.

Fellows participate in a multi-day, mandatory on-site orientation at the beginning of October, before reporting to their USAID host offices. Fellows also must complete the two-day USAID New Entrant Orientation (NEO) in October, before the host office assignment begins.

Prior to orientation, the SDF program team will provide a variety of resources over the summer to help fellows get ready to launch their fellowship. An online meet-and-greet session will be held in September to facilitate connections among fellows before beginning orientation, and an online directory for each class of fellows will be created to foster networking from the start.

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Key Dates

Application Open:
1/15/2024
Application Close:
2/29/2024
Selection Interviews:
4/15-19/2024
Placement Interviews:
5/5-10/2024
Placement Offers:
5/25-28/2024
Fellowship Start:
10/1/2024
Fellowship End:
9/30/2026

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