Donald M. Payne International Development (USAID) Fellowship Program

The Payne Fellowship Program seeks outstanding applicants who are interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). If you want to work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times — poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism – the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development provides an opportunity to advance U.S. foreign policy interests and reflect the American people’s compassion and support of human dignity.

The fellowship provides up to $96,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships, and professional development activities, provides a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service. The Payne Fellowship encourages the application of members of minority groups who have historically been underrepresented in international development careers and those with financial need. The initiative is funded by USAID and administered by Howard University. Fellowship recipients can use the award to attend U.S. graduate programs throughout the country; they will join the USAID Foreign Service upon completion of the program, as long as they successfully complete the Payne Program and USAID entry requirements.


  • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen
  • Open to all academic fields
  • GPA of 3.2 or higher
  • Graduating senior or alumni
  • Applicants must enroll in a two-year, full-time master’s degree program, at U.S. based graduate institutions only, in an academic field relevant to the work of the Foreign Service (public policy, international affairs, public administration, business, economics, political science, sociology, or foreign languages)
    • Recipients must prepare to enter the Foreign Service upon completion of graduate study

Award Highlights: 

  • Up $96,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships, and professional development activities
    • The award includes up to $22,000 per year toward tuition and mandatory fees for completion of a two-year master’s degree at a U.S. institution; a $16,000 stipend for each academic year for room, board, books and other education-related expenses; and up to $10,000 per year in stipend, housing, transportation, and related expenses for summer internship
  • Payne Fellows will participate in two internships
    • The first, an internship working on international issues in Washington, DC, will occur in the summer after being selected and before the first year of graduate study
    • The second will be an overseas internship in a USAID Mission that takes place during the summer between the first and second years of graduate study.  The program will provide stipends, housing, and transportation.

Application Components: 

  • Biographical information
  • Personal statement (600 words maximum)
  • Statement of financial need (400 words maximum)
  • Letter of recommendation (2)
    • One from a faculty member who is well acquainted with the individual
    • One from a community leader or other individual who can comment on the applicant’s non-academic accomplishments and the potential to serve as a USAID Foreign Service Officer
  • Proof of citizenship (PDF format)
    • Passport, birth certificate or certificate of citizenship
  • Student aid report (SAR), generated from FAFSA
  • Official financial aid statement from senior year (if student received financial aid)
  • Transcript (s)
Award Website

application Deadline

October 26, 2023

Contact the Advising Team

Advisor: Office of Distinguished Scholarship