About the Program

STPI Fellows

IDA’s two-year Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) 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 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 discussions of 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 2017 and July 2019 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 2017–July 2019 timeframe. Individuals with degrees higher than a master’s degree are not eligible to apply.

Additional requirements include the following:

  • 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 accept applications starting in September 2018; they must be received no later than January 12, 2019. Check back here at the end of September 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 2017 and July 2019 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 2017 and July 2019.

Does STPI hire Fellows who do not have policy experience?

Yes, previous policy experience is not required.

If I have a PhD, am I eligible to apply for the Fellowship?

No. Check the IDA career postings website for ads targeting candidates with PhDs.

When do all of my materials have to be submitted?

All of your application materials must be submitted to STPI-Fellow@ida.org by January 12, 2019; these include a personal statement, writing sample, unofficial transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.  In addition, you will need to fill out the job application on the IDA website and submit a résumé online.

What is the timeline for application evaluation?

Evaluation of applications will be evaluated in February with an in-person, full-day interview required for finalists at the end of February/beginning of March.

What does the in-person interview involve?

The in-person interview, which requires travel to Washington, D.C., includes interviews with the selection committee, a group project, and other activities designed to help candidates get to know STPI and the work that we do and to help us get to know the candidates.

In which science policy areas do Fellows work?

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 and are encouraged to work in areas outside of their major. STPI generally has tasks in the areas related to space, national security, health, program and portfolio analysis, critical infrastructure protection, emerging S&T areas, and STEM education, among others.

What kinds of work do Fellows do?

STPI tasks are team based, and Fellows are an essential part of the team. Every project and sponsor has unique needs, but Fellows are usually involved in and develop expertise in many activities, such as designing approaches used to answer policy relevant questions, reviewing literature, preparing and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, researching technical issues, writing memos and reports, and presenting study approaches and findings to sponsors.

How much of what STPI does is policy creation as opposed to policy support?

Because STPI is a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), staff are not directly involved in making 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 opportunities for professional development do Fellows have?

Fellows are encouraged to pursue independent policy research related to the tasks they perform, with the goal of producing publishable (peer-reviewed journal articles or conference papers) work. Fellows also are provided informal opportunities for networking with policy-makers in the D.C. area.

What do Fellows do after their Fellowships end?

STPI encourages Fellows to pursue an advanced degree or other opportunities that allow for career growth. Former Fellows have pursued graduate studies in a variety of areas, including evaluation, law, and science and technology studies. Others have pursued careers in non-profits, management consulting, and science writing.

Is the Science Policy Fellowship a paid fellowship?

Yes, the Fellowship is a paid, term-limited, full-time, benefits-eligible position.

When do Fellows start the Science Policy Fellowship?

Fellows typically start the Fellowship in mid-July.

Whom do I contact if I have more questions?

Send queries via email to STPI-Fellow@ida.org.