State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellowship Application Process

We are now accepting letters of intent for the 2020-2021 State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellowship Program. The online portal will open soon. Deadline for applications is December 13, 2019, 11:59 PM Eastern.

Application Timeline

  1. Deadline for Letters of Intent: December 13, 2019, 11:59PM Eastern
  2. Notification of Status & Invitation to Submit Full Application: Mid-End of January 2020
  3. Deadline for Finalist Full Application: February 14, 2020
  4. Notification of Fellowship Offers: Mid-April 2020

Application Submission Instructions

Applying to the SRCD State Policy Fellowship is a two-step process.

  1. Submit a letter of intent (max 3 single-spaced pages) to an online portal. The online portal will be open soon. Letters of intent are due by December 13, 2019, 11:59PM Eastern.

    Letters of intent can be submitted:
    • jointly by a fellowship candidate and an interested professor or university-based researcher (referred to as academic mentor), or
    • by an interested academic mentor who will subsequently identify a fellowship candidate, if invited to submit a full application.
  2. A selection committee will invite full applications from a subset of those who have submitted letters of intent. The full applications will be submitted through an online portal.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Applicants must be enrolled in a doctoral-level degree program, have completed at least 2 years of coursework by the start of the fellowship year and must be in good academic standing.
  • Applicants must have a background in early learning and education.
  • Applicants must be able to commit to a 12-month part-time placement in a state executive branch office that averages 20 hours per week over the course of a year. Fellowships are immersive experiences and fellows will be expected to be on site at the state agency for most if not all of their work.
  • Applicants to the SRCD State Policy Fellowship Program must be a member of SRCD and be a U.S. citizen.
  • The potential state executive branch agency office must focus on pre-kindergarten.

What is required in State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellowship letter of intent?

The letter of intent must include the following sections:

  • Policy research interests of the academic mentor and pre-doctoral candidate (if identified):
    • Describe the academic mentor’s ongoing or planned policy-relevant research
    • If a pre-doctoral candidate is identified:
      • Describe the pre-doctoral candidate’s background in child development research and interest in early learning and policy research
    • If a pre-doctoral candidate has yet to be identified:
      • Describe the process for identifying a specific candidate
  • Current or planned working relationship with state executive branch office:
    • Describe an ongoing working relationship with a state executive branch office, plans for development of such a working relationship, or previous policy-relevant research that would provide background for serving as an academic mentor to a SRCD State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellow
    • Confirm that (should a full application be invited) it will be possible to obtain a letter of commitment from the identified state executive branch office, indicating that a placement with the agency will be feasible
    • Describe the types of work potentially available for the pre-doctoral fellow in the identified agency with the understanding that specific projects will be determined together with the agency when the fellowship begins and that projects will evolve during the course of the year
  • Mentoring for the SRCD State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellow:
    • Describe the professional support the academic mentor would provide to the fellow throughout the year, including:
      • Plans for frequency of meetings and whether these meetings would be one-on-one or part of ongoing meetings with a group of graduate students or a research team
      • Providing guidance and sharing resources relevant to placement projects (within guidelines set by the agency regarding confidentiality). Support might include, for example, directing the fellow to research literature relevant to a project; serving as a sounding board in the formulation of a research question, evaluation plan, or plan for monitoring aspects of program implementation; or addressing issues with data analyses. 
    • Indicate how the fellowship would align with and contribute to (rather than derail progress towards) the doctoral training of the graduate student

The letter of intent must not exceed three single-spaced pages.

How do I submit the letter of intent?

Letters of intent are due by December 13, 2019, 11:59PM Eastern through an online portal. See “Application Submission Instructions” above. The online portal will open soon. Please check back periodically for an active link to the online portal.

What is required in a State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellowship full application?

A. Four items from the pre-doctoral candidate:

  1. Statement of interest (1,000 word limit) describing:
    • The candidate’s academic background and qualifications for the program, including background in the research on early education
    • Current areas of research, primary questions of interest, and methodologies used to address the questions
    • Basis for interest in the State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellowship, including policy areas or issues of interest and skills to be acquired
    • Career goals, including how the fellowship would support those goals
    Further questions to consider when writing the statement of interest:
    • Why are you interested in the SRCD State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellowship? Why are you interested in working in policy?
    • What are your academic and professional goals and how does the fellowship align with these goals?
    • What are your interests and passions? How do these interests match with the purposes of the SRCD State Policy Fellowship program?
    • How will you leverage your background to bridge between research and policy?
  2. Current C.V.
  3. Two letters of recommendation for the pre-doctoral candidate, addressing the following:
    • How does the pre-doctoral candidate’s skill set and interests prepare the candidate for a successful fellowship experience?
    • What is the pre-doctoral candidate’s knowledge base and how does the candidate’s past experiences relate to policy?
    • To the best of your knowledge, what drives or motivates the pre-doctoral candidate to pursue this fellowship?


B. Two items from the academic mentor:

  1. Statement of interest (750 word limit) that addresses:
    • Areas of research
    • The ways in which the academic mentor would support the post-doctoral fellow*
    • How having a fellow with a state policy placement would add to and extend ongoing work

    The academic mentor can include sections from the letter of intent, where appropriate extending the initial letter.
  2. Current C.V.
*If the academic mentor is not the graduate student’s program advisor, instructions in the application will also be provided for requesting a brief letter from the program chair indicating that the graduate student’s participation in the program will be in keeping with requirements and progress towards the doctorate.


C. Two items from staff at state executive branch agency:

  1. Statement of interest (500 word limit)
    From an employee at the state executive branch agency in a leadership position in with the state pre-kindergarten program who would supervise the SRCD State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellow:
    • Description of professional background
    • Description of possible projects the fellow might assist with
    • Confirmation of interest and time for providing supervision to the fellow. This includes not only provision of guidance and feedback on specific placement projects, but also provision of opportunities for the fellow to learn about policy development and implementation in a state agency through participation (where appropriate) in meetings at the agency, and through regularly scheduled discussions during which the fellow could ask questions and reflect on what they are learning.
  2. Letter of commitment
    From a representative of the state executive branch agency with appropriate authority:
    • Confirm that the agency welcomes the possibility to host a pre-doctoral fellow and that such a placement would be in keeping with agency rules and regulations and state laws
    • Name the specific supervisor
    • Confirm that an appropriate workspace would be made available including use of a computer and telephone (used only according to agency guidelines). An alternative approach to placement location would be considered if it is made clear how an immersion experience would be achieved.

    The statement of interest noted above and letter of commitment may be from the same individual, if appropriate.

A selection committee will invite full applications from a subset of those who have submitted letters of intent. The full applications will be submitted through an online portal.

How do I submit a full application?

Full applications will be due by February 14, 2020, 11:59PM Eastern through an online portal. See “Application Submission Instructions” above for more information.

How are State Policy Pre-doctoral Fellowship full applications evaluated?

Pre-doctoral candidates will be evaluated based on the following evaluation criteria:

  • Demonstrates relevant academic background in developmental science, including background in the research on early education (e.g., topically relevant graduate coursework)
  • Demonstrates strong research skills (e.g., research methods coursework, methodologies used in publications)
  • Previous professional experiences related to the application of research to practice (e.g., clinical)
  • Record of publications, presentations, and professional activities commensurate with experience and appropriate to discipline
  • Demonstrates strong communication skills
  • Alignment of interests and career aspirations with the fellowship program