Q: What are the benefits of being a fellow?

As a coveted asset in the federal government, fellows gain hands-on policy experience in a challenging environment. Current and alumni fellows form a highly respected and widely recognized network of policy-savvy scientists and engineers. Click here for other benefits of being a fellow.

Q: What impact have fellowships had on the career paths of alumni?

In the year immediately following their fellowship, approximately 40-50% of fellows continue working in the policy realm (not necessarily in federal government); 20-25% return to the sector in which they worked previously; and 20-25% use the experience as a stepping stone to a new opportunity.

Q: What is the AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship applicant acceptance rate?

The ratio of applicants to fellowships awarded is different in each of the fellowship program areas. We urge you not to consider "the odds," but to apply to the areas that fit best with your interests and scientific/technical expertise. It is in those areas that you will be most competitive. STPF awards more than 130 first year fellowships annually. In addition, approximately 35 congressional and 10 executive branch fellowships are selected and awarded by our science and engineering partner societies.

Q: If awarded a fellowship, how do I prepare for the experience?

In early September, STPF hosts a mandatory two-week orientation program on the workings of the federal government that provides exposure to some of the issues, institutions, and individuals involved in federal policymaking. Barring September 1st falling on a weekend or holiday, orientation will begin on September 1st. Prior to orientation, we provide a variety of resources to help fellows prepare for their year in Washington, D.C.

Q: How long is a fellowship?

The fellowship is a 12-month learning experience beginning on September 1 and ending on August 31. Some fellows, especially those at the National Institutes of Health, are brought on by the host agency as temporary federal employees and should expect to be entered on duty mid-August. Individuals accepting a fellowship must sign an agreement acknowledging this yearlong commitment. Some executive branch fellowships may be renewed for a second year at the mutual agreement of the host office, the fellow, and STPF.

Q: Are fellowships available every year?

Yes. The AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships have been operating annually since 1973. The number and size of the fellowship program areas has changed over the years and continues to evolve.

Q: May I opt for a shorter fellowship?

No. The AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship are available only as a 12-month commitment in the first year of an assignment. Second year assignments may be for shorter durations at the mutual agreement of the host office, the fellow, and STPF.

Q: Where are fellowships located?

All AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship are based in the Washington, D.C. area in the first year of an assignment. At the mutual agreement of the host office, the fellow, and STPF, executive branch assignments may move to a different operating base in the second (renewal) year.

Q: Who funds the fellowships?

Most executive branch fellowships are funded by the agencies and offices where fellows are placed. Congressional fellowships are funded by science and engineering partner societies that recruit and select those fellows.

Q: Do STPF fellows qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program?

Not necessarily. Qualification for PSLF is determined by a variety of factors including the classification of your employer. The fellow will need to determine if their employer qualifies under PSLF.

Q: Would I be an employee of AAAS as an STPF fellow?

No. AAAS administers the STPF program but does not employ any fellows. The STPF program is covered by multiple funding agreements with fellows working under different organizations. Your placement will determine your employer relationship.

Q: Is a security clearance required?

Depending upon the agencies that you are interested in, you may need a security clearance before your fellowship assignment commences and before the stipend starts. Sometimes, this process can be quite lengthy. STPF staff are available to offer guidance on the clearance process, but are not involved in processing or approving clearances. Fellows are responsible for submitting information and for following up with appropriate parties to ensure that a security clearance is obtained.

Q: I’m a faculty member. As a fellow, could I continue doing things such as advising my graduate students?

This depends on your fellowship placement office and your home institution. In the past, fellows have been able to make arrangements with their home institutions so that they are able to go on leave and do not need to give up their positions. In many cases, fellows have been able to continue advising students outside of the fellowship’s 40 hour work week.

Q: How is the STPF program responding to COVID-19?

STPF is continually monitoring the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and adjusting operations as appropriate. Travel and in-person training has been suspended for the time being. We have also shifted our professional development program to 100% online. Most fellowship placements are currently in a telework environment. Individual telework determinations are controlled by the respective host agencies.

Q: In light of COVID-19, will I be required to relocate to the Washington, D.C. area for the fellowship?

All of the STPF fellowship opportunities are in the D.C. metro area and your stipend is based on D.C. locality pay, so the expectation is for fellows to live in the D.C. area. Depending on your specific funding mechanism, local residency could be required due to grant requirements, employment law and tax law. Individual host offices will determine their telework vs. in-person work procedures and timing. All fellows will need to be ready to go into the office when requested by their host offices.

Q: Are placements remote or in-person?

All STPF placements are in the DC metro area. Prior to COVID-19 all placements were in-person. Starting in Spring of 2020 fellows worked remotely in accordance with OPM maximum telework guidance related to COVID-19. Individual host offices will determine the specifics of your work environment and are currently evaluating their return to office protocols. In-person placements maximize the value of fellowship experience. STPF expects fellows to spend the majority of their time in an in-person work environment once deemed appropriate based on health and safety guidelines.