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STPI’s Policy Fellowship Program

About the Program

STPI FellowsThis two-year fellowship provides recent bachelor’s degree recipients with a unique opportunity to use their critical thinking and analytic skills to work on a diverse set of challenges in science and technology (S&T) policy areas, including energy and the environment, space sciences, innovation and competitiveness, evaluation, life sciences, information technologies, national security, and STEM education. Fellows will be involved in collaborative research for leaders in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President and other Federal Government organizations, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Applications are accepted each year beginning in the fall, and selections are made in the spring of the following year.

What to Expect

Fellows work with teams of researchers to support a wide variety of S&T policy-related tasks. Over the course of the fellowship, fellows will have opportunities to develop professionally through the following types of activities:

  • Participation in analyses that support tasking from Federal Government policymakers
  • Training on specific analytical methods and tools
  • Involvement in workshops and discussion on relevant topics
  • Attendance and presentation at select professional society meetings
  • Interaction with OSTP and other Federal science agency personnel
  • Mentorship from members of the STPI research staff

Fellows will also have an opportunity to work on one independent research project that will contribute to the scientific, technical, or policy literature.

Who Should Apply?

Innovative, analytical self-starters who are able to work well in teams are encouraged to apply. Ideal candidates will have at least a BS/BA degree conferred between May 2016 and July 2018 in one of a range of disciplines, including engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, computer science, mathematical sciences or statistics, and learning sciences. MA/MS-degree candidates and recipients are also encouraged to apply, provided their bachelor’s degrees are within the May 2016–July 2018 timeframe. Individuals with degrees higher than a master’s degree are not eligible to apply.

Additional requirements:

  • Interest in science and technology policy (however, previous policy experience is not required) 
  • Demonstrated written and oral communication skills 
  • Willingness to undergo a security investigation and ability to meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information 
  • U.S. citizenship

Application Materials

IDA will be accepting applications starting October 2017 and must be received no later than January 26, 2018. Please check back here mid-October to access the application link for the Science Policy Fellowship program.

When applying, you will be required to submit the following supporting materials in addition to the application:

  • Statement of purpose—explain in 1,000 words or less why you want to work in the area of science and technology policy and how your background/experience makes you a good candidate
  • Writing sample—5,000 words or less
  • Transcript—unofficial transcript is acceptable for consideration, but an official transcript is needed before any offer of employment will be made
  • Two letters of academic recommendations—letters must be signed by the individual rendering the reference. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does “recent” bachelor’s degree mean?
Individuals who earned a bachelor’s degree between May 2016 and July 2018 are eligible to apply for the Fellowship. Current master’s students and master’s degree recipients are also eligible as long as their bachelor’s degrees are earned between May 2016 and July 2018. 

If I have a PhD, am I eligible to apply for the Fellowship?
No. Check the IDA job postings website for job ads targeting candidates with PhDs.

What science policy areas do Fellows work in?
The work that STPI does depends on the needs of its sponsors. Although previous experience and expertise are often factors in deciding who works on what, Fellows work in a variety of science policy areas. One Fellow with experience working in energy, for example, may participate in an evaluation of a grant program, while another with an education in engineering may be asked to conduct a literature review related to a political topic of the day.

What kinds of work do Fellows do?
STPI tasks are usually team based, and Fellows are an integral part of the team. Every project and sponsor has unique needs, but Fellows gain hands-on experience and develop expertise by conducting qualitative interviews, reviewing literature, coding and preparing data, researching technical issues, analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, writing memos and reports, and presenting study plans and findings to sponsors.

Does STPI hire Fellows that do not have policy experience?
Yes. Although STPI’s work often informs policy decisions, policy experience is not required. Often, having specific content-area knowledge (or a willingness to dive in and learn about a specific content area) is as useful as policy experience.

How much of what STPI does is policy creation as opposed to policy support?
STPI is a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), so staff are not directly involved in writing policy. STPI’s role is to provide objective analysis to support and inform policymakers’ decisions.

What types of interactions do Fellows have with policymakers and other stakeholders?
Fellows frequently interact with sponsors at team meetings and presentations, and they may attend high-level meetings that provide opportunities to engage in discussions with policymakers.

What do Fellows do after their fellowships end?
STPI encourages Fellows to pursue an advanced degree or other opportunities that allow for career growth. Applicants and Fellows are encouraged to pursue studies and employment in technical fields or in more policy-oriented programs, but STPI has no expectation or requirement regarding a Fellow’s future plans. As of this writing, Fellows in their second year of the fellowship have plans to pursue graduate studies in a variety of areas, including evaluation, law, and science and technology studies.

Is the Science Policy Fellowship a paid fellowship?
Yes, the fellowship is a paid, benefits-eligible position.