The Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship is a highly competitive program offering qualified mid- to senior-level congressional staff an opportunity for in-depth focus and engagement on critical foreign policy issues relevant to the Congressional agenda. The Fellowship Program is also open to exceptional rising leaders with a keen interest in foreign policy who staff other U.S. policymakers.

The Need

Every day, Congressional staff advise Members on the conduct of U.S. foreign and defense policy; it is critically important that both Members and their personal staff be up-to-date and well-versed in the nuances of a wide range of complex issues.

The Solution

The Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship Program helps fill this need by offering an exclusive six-week Seminar Series, conducted by leading scholars, analysts, and policy practitioners.

"The Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship Program presents a great opportunity for Congressional staff to engage with thought leaders and colleagues on a bipartisan and informal basis to discuss and analyze the top foreign policy and national security issues facing our nation today. This sort of bipartisan, bicameral collaboration is an invaluable resource to provide a framework for good, informed policy making on these important topics.” -- Representative Richard L. Hanna (R - NY)

Past Topics and Speakers:

  • China as an Emerging Global Power featuring Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, Former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, Indonesia and China;
  • A Bipartisan Foreign Policy featuring Stephen Hadley, Former National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush and Sandy Berger, Former National Security Advisor under President Bill Clinton;
  • Does Congress Have a Role in Foreign Policy? featuring Howard Berman, Former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Richard Lugar, Former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations;
  • Is an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Possible?

All Fellows will be selected on a competitive, bipartisan basis.

What the Fellowship Offers

The core of the Fellowship Program is a six-week Seminar Series which will allow the Fellows to interact, debate, and discuss key issues with some of the nation’s leading foreign policy thinkers and practitioners. Each session will focus on encouraging analytical approaches and fresh perspectives on a specific issue and will include a recommended reading list. The program will also include opportunities for Fellows to develop materials relevant to the Congressional agenda, such as one-minute speeches, op-eds, and policy briefs. 

A key component of the program is the interactive session in which Fellows are divided into four core groups and given scenarios to simulate, role play, and field questions from their colleagues. Examples of interactive sessions include:

  • A roleplaying exercise between Congressional staff and Leaders of the fictitious “Bipartisan” party in Congress. Staffers were asked to present the Leaders with recommendations on how to fix Congressional deadlock.
  • Mock summits between the President of the United States and world leaders such as Ali Khameni; Raul Castro; Kim Jong-un; and Bashar al-Assad. Groups were asked to identify contentious issues in the bilateral relationship and outline a plan to resolve them. 

In addition to the substantive expertise staff gain through the program, the Seminar Series will help foster bipartisanship and create, over time, a cadre of alumni who are knowledgeable about the issues as well as committed to a more collegial and open dialogue.

Alumni Program

Fellows who attend 5 out of 6 sessions will receive a certificate of completion from the Wilson Center and will be inducted into the Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship Alumni Program. All Fellows, alumni, and Congressional Members will be invited to attend exclusive Wilson Center events, panels, and programs including our signature Day at the Wilson Center event, National Conversations (run in partnership with NPR), and an annual reception featuring keynote speakers and expert panels on timely foreign policy issues.

During the Seminar Series, Fellows will also be able to draw on the expertise and knowledge of the 150 resident scholars – a diverse, competitively-selected group of policymakers, academics, and executives from both the public and private sectors around the world – whom the Wilson Center hosts each year.

Application Requirements and Dates

Applicants for the Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship Program must submit for consideration no later than 11:59PM ESTTuesday, March 31, 2015 a complete copy of the application form, a copy of their resume, and a recommendation letter from a member of Congress (recommended). Applications will open Monday, February 23, 2015. 

The dates for the Spring 2015 Seminar Series are April 17, April 24, May 1, May 8, May 15 and May 22. If accepted, each fellow is required to attend at least five (5) sessions of the seminar series, which runs on Friday from 2:30pm -- 5:30pmPlease do not apply unless you know you can attend all program dates.


To find out more about the application or apply click here!



The Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship Program is generously supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Experts & Staff


The Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship Program is generously supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Carnegie Corporation