The ICWA fellowship program aims to nurture deep expertise in foreign countries and cultures by supporting a Fellow who carries out a program of self-designed, independent study abroad for a minimum of two years. We do not support degree programs at universities. Candidates are encouraged to browse the ICWA archives on this website to see the kind of projects that the Institute had previously supported.
The fellowships amount to a generous investment in the future of the Fellow. A primary selection criterion is whether a candidate is ready for the rapid personal growth that the fellowship makes possible. We look for candidates who are sufficiently prepared to take advantage of the opportunity we offer, but extensive professional experience in the proposed area is not always an advantage. Fellowships are aimed at developing knowledge and professional skills, not awarding research or reporting opportunities to those who already have them.
We are primarily focused on the potential of the candidate and secondarily on the project. That said, strong candidates will naturally propose and passionately pursue a project that’s topical and important. We’re a small organization with few hard-and-fast rules, but generally we will postpone consideration of a project in a country where we currently or very recently have had a fellow. Over time, we try to achieve a good geographic distribution of fellowships and are naturally drawn to areas of the world and topics that are less well understood and have strategic or other importance to the United States. These could include thematic fellowships, for example examining questions related to economic development or the environment that could be effectively pursued using the method of our fellowships.
We expect candidates to have the necessary language skills to allow to them to carry out their proposed project. Candidates proposing to go to China, Russia, Indonesia, India, or Brazil, for example, should have proficiency in Chinese, Russian, Bahasa, Hindi (or another relevant language) or Portuguese. It is too costly and time consuming to start from scratch, so we expect enough language proficiency so that candidates are able to function in the local language within a few months of arriving in the country. Exceptions have been made for unusual languages or situations, but these are rare.
Candidates must be under 36 years of age at the time of the due date for the initial letter of interest.
U.S. citizenship is not a requirement, but candidates must show strong and credible ties to U.S. society. A proposed fellowship must hold the promise of enriching public life in the United States by enhancing the understanding of foreign countries, cultures, and trends. Public service in the United States is our ultimate purpose, out of a belief that the United States needs the knowledge and wisdom that our Fellows acquire.
Fellowships are not scholarships and are not awarded to support work toward academic degrees or the writing of books or for research projects, meaning focused projects aimed at answering specific questions, usually in a particular academic discipline.Applicants must have a good command of written and spoken English and must have completed the current phase of their formal education. We do not accept applications from currently enrolled undergraduate students.
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The Institute provides full financial support for its fellows and their immediate families. “Full financial support” does not mean unlimited financial support, and fellows are expected to live and spend modestly. The Institute provides fellows with sufficient funding to allow them and their families to live in good health and reasonable comfort and to fulfill the purposes of the fellowship.