Federal Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about the Fellowship Program

Q: Who should apply for an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?
Q: What makes an ideal SRCD Federal Policy Fellow?
Q: Which SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship should I apply to?
Q: Can I apply to both the SRCD Congressional and Executive Branch Fellowships?
Q: Is the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program designed only for early-career fellows?
Q: Where are the placements for SRCD Federal Policy Fellows located?
Q: What is the duration of the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?
Q: I have a special circumstance that will make it impossible for me to begin the fellowship on September 1st, but I could easily extend beyond August 31st for the 12-month requirement. Are the dates of the fellowship flexible?
Q: My work cycle at the university would make it difficult for me to remain in Washington until August 31st. Is there any flexibility with the dates of the fellowship?
Q: Who funds the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowships?
Q: How is the salary of a fellow decided?
Q: I have research projects and grants underway. Will it be possible for me to continue work on them during the fellowship?
Q: I am interested in taking one year of leave from my university to do an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship. How do I arrange this with my university, and how do I convince my university that this can be of value to them?
Q: What should applicants do if they have further questions?

Application Requirements

Q: What is the application deadline for the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?
Q: Do I have to have a doctorate to apply for an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?
Q: I am completing my doctorate after the application deadline but before the fellowship year starts. Can I still apply?
Q: What if I have completed all of the requirements for my doctorate, but my degree will not be conferred until after May 30th, 2019?
Q: I received my doctorate more than ten years ago. Am I eligible to apply?
Q: May I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?
Q: Can I reapply for an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?

The Application Process

Q: What does a complete online application include?
Q: I am having trouble submitting my online application. What should I do?
Q: When will applicants be notified about the status of their application and candidacy for an interview?
Q: When do the interviews take place?


General Questions about the Fellowship Program

Q: Who should apply for an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?

Both the SRCD Congressional and Executive Branch Policy Fellowships are designed for scholars from a variety of backgrounds and scientific disciplines. Applicants must demonstrate exceptional competence in an area of child development research and receive a doctorate-level degree (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D., M.D.)  prior to starting the fellowship. However, both SRCD Congressional and Executive Branch Federal Policy Fellowships are training opportunities suited for individuals throughout their career development. We welcome applications from early, mid-career, and advanced professionals.  This fellowship will help developmental scientists at all career stages understand the linkages between research and policy, how to communicate more effectively with policymakers, and how to formulate more informed and useful questions for policy-related research.

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Q: What makes an ideal SRCD Federal Policy Fellow?

SRCD fellows serve as ambassadors for developmental science. Therefore, scholarship is the most important qualification for the fellowship. Additionally, the fellow's interests, career goals, and interpersonal and communication skills are important considerations.

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Q: Which SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship should I apply to?

Both the SRCD Congressional and Executive Branch Federal Policy Fellowship provide scholars with a unique opportunity to work at the junction of developmental science and public policy. Fellows in both of the federal fellowships have opportunities to learn about the policy-making process. Both branches are involved with legislation, regulatory policy, and federal programs that affect children and families. However, different skills are enhanced by each fellowship. For a better understanding of how the SRCD Congressional and Executive Branch Federal Policy Fellowships differ, read these brief articles written by current and former fellows about their experiences.

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Q: Can I apply to both the SRCD Congressional and Executive Branch Fellowships?

It is recommended that you apply for the fellowship best suited to your interests and goals. However, some applicants may choose to apply for both fellowships. In that situation, applicants should submit a separate statement of interest, articulating their differing goals in applying for each fellowship.

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Q: Is the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program designed only for early-career fellows?

No. The fellowships are training opportunities suited for individuals at all career stages.

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Q: Where are the placements for SRCD Federal Policy Fellows located?

All SRCD Federal Policy Fellows have placements that are full-time and in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Q: What is the duration of the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?

The fellowships are 12-month immersion experiences beginning on September 1st and ending on August 31st. Individuals accepting a fellowship must sign an agreement acknowledging this year-long commitment. Some SRCD Executive Branch Policy Fellows may renew for a second year at the mutual agreement of the host office, the fellow, and SRCD. Under rare circumstances, SRCD Congressional Policy Fellowships may be extended for an additional four months (for a total of up to 16 months), through the remainder of a legislative session. All extensions must be applied for by March 1st of the fellowship year.

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Q: I have a special circumstance that will make it impossible for me to begin the fellowship on September 1st, but I could easily extend beyond August 31st for the 12-month requirement. Are the dates of the fellowship flexible?

The dates of the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship are not flexible. They are designed to coincide fully with the Science and Technology Fellowship Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in which SRCD is a partner society. The fellowship calendar begins with extensive orientation programming and is structured with professional development events across the year to build the fellowship experience sequentially. Any experience outside of this calendar would not hold the same career development value, or sense of inclusion in the fellowship cohort. Applicants are advised to apply for a fellowship at a time in their careers when the fellowship calendar will work for them.

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Q: My work cycle at the university would make it difficult for me to remain in Washington until August 31st. Is there any flexibility with the dates of the fellowship?

The fellowships begin on September 1st with the AAAS orientation and continue for 12 months. However, a fellow might be able to arrange with his/her placement to accumulate leave so as to return to a university or other position earlier in August.

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Q: Who funds the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowships?

The funding mechanisms for SRCD Executive Branch Fellowships differ depending on the agency. Many placements are funded through federal cooperative agreements with SRCD. Some host agencies temporarily hire SRCD fellows as federal employees for the duration the fellowship. Some fellows are funded strictly by SRCD or by private grants.

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Q: How is the salary of a fellow decided?

Stipends for fellows fall into a three-tier system using the federal government pay-scale, taking into consideration previous experience and salary. Stipend (and benefit) levels reflect the fact that the fellowships offer substantial educational value over employment, so may or may not be competitive with those for employment. Please note that fellows may not negotiate stipends and benefits directly with agencies or placements. Stipend levels will be adjusted according to the most recent information available prior to the start of the 2019-2020 fellowship year. The following are the stipend levels for the 2018-2019 fellowship year:

  • Level 1: Fellows with 0-7 years of post-doctorate, full-time employment received a stipend based on an equivalent of the federal general schedule GS Grade 12, Step 1. For example, in 2018 this was $81,548. Second-year fellows will receive an appropriate stipend increase above GS Grade 12, Step 1.
  • Level 2: Fellows with more than seven years of post-doctorate, full-time employment received a Level 2 stipend equivalent to GS Grade 12, Step 5. For example, in 2018 this was $92,421.
  • Level 3: Fellows with 15 or more years of post-doctorate, full-time employment received a Level 3 stipend equivalent to GS Grade 12, Step 10. For example, in 2018 this was $106,012.

Also, for the 2018-19 fellowship year, SRCD provided fellows with an allowance of up to $1,300 for moving expenses if they moved 50 or more miles, a professional development fund of $2,800, as well as an allowance for purchase of health insurance with the amount depending upon number of family members covered.

Please note that fellows hired as temporary employees of their placement agency will receive their salary and benefits directly from the agency. SRCD fellows who are temporary federal employees do not receive a separate allowance for professional development. This will be at the discretion of the host office. Temporary federal employees are not eligible for a relocation allowance. However, many expenses for employment-related relocation are tax deductible for moves more than 50 miles from your previous work location (see the IRS guidelines). Information on employee benefits can be found on the website of the Office of Personnel Management.

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Q: I have research projects and grants underway. Will it be possible for me to continue work on them during the fellowship?

Similar to programs like the Fulbright Scholars Program, both the SRCD Congressional and Executive Branch Federal Policy Fellowships are immersion experiences, and the vast majority of fellows do not find time during the workday for their own projects. Fellows sometimes find they are able to work on their own writing projects in the evenings and on weekends. Fellows need to adhere to ethics rules in Congress and the Executive Branch. SRCD Executive Branch Policy Fellows must request permission from their host office or agency to continue active work on federal grants, contracts, or consulting so as to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. SRCD Congressional Policy Fellows are not permitted to work on or apply for federal grants while in a congressional placement. Both SRCD Executive Branch and Congressional Policy Fellows must receive approval to work on non-federal research collaborations or appointments.

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Q: I am interested in taking one year of leave from my university to do an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship. How do I arrange this with my university, and how do I convince my university that this can be of value to them?

You may be eligible for cost-sharing between the university and the fellowship program for a year of leave (such as an Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program, or IPA.) We believe that it is important to educate your department chair and dean about the additional knowledge and skills you will bring back to the university following your fellowship. In general, assets that a fellow can bring back to the university include: enhanced grantsmanship skills; enhanced communication skills for non-academic audiences; an enriched capacity for policy-relevant research; a broader network of collaborators, both inside and outside academia; a broader ability to teach about developmental science and public policy; broader experience for committee service to the university; and enhanced capacity for working with state and local policymakers. We recommend that you review the reflections of former fellows for what they have gained from the fellowship (Spotlight on the SRCD Federal Policy Fellow). Please contact us for additional assistance at policyfellowships[at]srcd.org.

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Q: What should applicants do if they have further questions?

Please email policyfellowships[at]srcd.org or call 202-800-0666.

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Applicant Requirements

Q: What is the application deadline for the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?

Applications must be submitted by December 14, 2018 or earlier. Applications are not usually accepted past the December 14th deadline. Applicants with extreme extenuating circumstances should contact the SRCD policy staff at policyfellowships[at]srcd.org.

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Q: Do I have to have a doctorate to apply for an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?

Applicants must have a doctorate-level degree. This includes a Ph.D., Ed.D., or M.D. A candidate with a J.D. alone is not eligible without any of the aforementioned degrees.

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Q: I am completing my doctorate after the application deadline but before the fellowship year starts. Can I still apply?

Yes, as long as the candidate’s dissertation defense will take place by July 1st and the degree will be awarded by August 31st. A letter from the dissertation committee chair will be requested to confirm this timeline if a candidate is selected for interview. There are no exceptions.

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Q: What if I have completed all of the requirements for my doctorate, but my degree will not be conferred until after May 30th, 2019?

If you have successfully defended your dissertation by July 1st, 2019 and your degree will be conferred before August 31, 2019, you are eligible for the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship.

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Q: I received my doctorate more than ten years ago. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. SRCD encourages individuals at any point in their careers to apply for a fellowship. Early, mid-career, and advanced professionals have all completed SRCD Federal Policy Fellowships. Several later-career fellows coming from academia have pursued the fellowship during a sabbatical. For a better understanding of how a mid-career or advanced professional may benefit from the fellowship, read about one mid-career fellow’s experiences.

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Q: May I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?

No. Fellows are required to be U.S. citizens. This is due to citizenship restrictions for placement in Congress and the federal agencies.

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Q: Can I reapply for an SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship?

Yes. SRCD does not impose limits on the number of times a candidate may apply.

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The Application Process

Q: What does a complete online application include?

  1. Candidate Data including education adn demographics, and certification of accuracy
  2. Statement of interest (1,000-word maximum; no exceptions) that describes the basis for the applicant's interest in the fellowship, what the applicant hopes to gain from the fellowship experience, and the applicant's research interests and backgroundSatement
    1. For the SRCD Congressional Policy Fellowship, applicants should include a brief statement about the contributions the applicant believes that research can make to the legislative process.
    2. For the SRCD Executive Branch Policy Fellowship, applicants will be asked to answer a separate question in the application template indicating which agencies appear to be the best matches to their interests.
  3. Current C.V.
  4. Three letters of recommendation

Applications must be submitted online by December 14, 2018 or earlier.

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Q: I am having trouble submitting my online application. What should I do?

Contact the SRCD policy staff immediately at 202-800-0666 or policyfellowships[at]srcd.org. We honor all application and recommendation letter submission efforts made before the deadline.

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Q: When will applicants be notified about the status of their application and candidacy for an interview?

Applicants will typically be notified in February whether or not they have been selected for an interview. Applicants are contacted within the month after their interview to let them know if they have been selected as an SRCD Congressional Fellow or if they have been selected as an SRCD Executive Branch Fellow pending finding an appropriate placement.

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Q: When do the interviews take place?

Interviews take place in the spring in Washington, D.C. Candidates will be reimbursed for their travel, meals, and accommodations.

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