Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship

The Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship is designed to attract outstanding young people to careers in international development as USAID Foreign Service Officers.  The Payne Fellowship Program provides benefits valued at up to $90,000 over two years toward a two-year master’s degree, arranges internships in Washington D.C. and at USAID missions overseas, and provides professional development and support activities.  Fellows who successfully complete the program become USAID Foreign Service Officers.  Fellows may use the fellowship to attend a two-year master’s program in a U.S. institution to study an area of relevance to the USAID Foreign Service, including international development, international relations, public policy, business administration, foreign languages, economics, agriculture, environmental sciences, health, or urban planning at a graduate or professional school approved by the Payne Program.  At the end of the two-year fellowship, Fellows enter the USAID Foreign Service.  

Applicants must be college seniors or graduates looking to start graduate school in the fall of the year they apply, have GPAs of at least 3.2 and be U.S. citizens.  The program welcomes applications from those with any undergraduate major and encourages applications from members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the USAID Foreign Service and those with financial need. The Program is funded by USAID and managed by Howard University. 


  • U.S. citizenship
  • GPA of 3.2 minimum
  • Seeking to start two-year relevant grad program in the fall

Application Process

Deadline: November

Application materials include:

  • Background information
  • Personal statement/statement of interest
  • Statement of financial assistance
  • Two letters of recommendation (one from faculty member and one from community leader)
  • Student Aid Report (SAR)
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • Official Financial Aid Statement, from the Office of Student Financial Services
  • Official Transcripts

Selection Process

The Payne Program expects to award ten fellowships.

November: Application deadline

December: Payne selection panel choose finalists and communicate decisions to both successful and unsuccessful applicants

January: Candidates selected for final consideration will be invited to Washington, D.C. for interviews.

To learn more, visit the Payne website and contact the Fellowship Office at