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USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program

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The Payne Fellowship seeks to attract outstanding individuals interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The USAID provides an opportunity to advance U.S. foreign policy interests and reflects the American people’s compassion and support of human dignity through pressing global challenges such as poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, and conflict and violent extremism. The fellowship provides up $48,000 per year for 2-year Master's programs. It covers tuition fees and a stipend for room and board, books and other education-related expenses. Fellows receive an appointment to the USAID Foreign Service, with a required 5 years of service.


NOTE: Payne Fellows who obtain a master’s degree are committed to a minimum of 5 years of service as a USAID Foreign Service Officer. Candidates who do not successfully complete the Payne Program and the subsequent 5-year service obligation may be subject to a reimbursement obligation

Scholarship Amount

$22,000/year for tuition fees, a $16,000/year living stipend, and a $10,000/year stipend

Annual Number of Scholarships Awarded

  • ~15 per year


  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a 3.2 GPA or higher
  • Seek admission to enter graduate school in the fall for a 2-year program at a U.S. university in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service:
    • Public Policy
    • International Affairs
    • Development
    • History
    • Communications
    • Agriculture
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Urban Planning
    • Public Administration
    • Business Administration
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Foreign Languages

Selection Criteria

  • Academic excellence
  • Community activities
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Leadership skills and potential
  • Demonstrated financial need

Application Material

  • Payne Fellowship Application
    • Personal Statement
    • Short Essay
    • Financial Need Statement
    • Student Aid Report
    • Official Financial Aid Statement from your senior year, if you received financial aid
  • CV/Resume
  • Transcripts
  • 2 letters of recommendation
    • 1 letter from a faculty member
    • 1 letter from a community leader or other individual who can comment on the your non-academic accomplishments and your potential to serve as a USAID Foreign Service Officer


National Deadline:


November 1, 2023: National Deadline

Early December: Notification of finalists

Mid-January: Finalist interviews

Late January: Notification of selection

Length of Scholarship

2 years

Scholarship Website


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