The CSIS Policy Fellowship: Enriching the Future of National Security

The CSIS Policy Fellowship is dedicated to developing the next generation of policy leaders.

At a Glance

Course Date

February 13 – May 16, 2024


CSIS Headquarters or Virtual



Stipend Information

Fellows are eligible for a $1500 stipend

Application Deadline

December 4, 2023


Since 2020, the CSIS Policy Fellowship has been dedicated to empowering undergraduate students of historically marginalized backgrounds who demonstrate an interest in joining and furthering the national security community. Through its 30+ research programs, CSIS has broadened the definition of national security beyond purely defense to include human security, climate, tech, and other crucial regional and topical issue areas. For the fourth year, fellows will learn from renowned foreign policy experts and practitioners and participate in a mutual exchange of ideas that fosters professional growth, builds connections, and accelerates success.

This semester-long fellowship is intended for sophomores, juniors, and seniors attending universities within the D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia (DMV) region, who have demonstrated a strong interest in national security, and who seek to advance their careers in the policy field. 16 applicants will be selected as fellows for each annual cohort. Fellows’ travel to CSIS will be covered based on their individual needs and fellows will be eligible to receive a $1,500 stipend.

Fellows will meet on a weekly basis over a 14-week period (February 13th – May 16th) for a combination of professional development seminars, geopolitical briefings, and networking events. Sessions will be tailored to accelerate the fellows’ professional growth, foster connections with policy leaders and CSIS mentors, and position them for success as future leaders in the field of foreign policy.

The Ideal Candidate

The CSIS Policy Fellowship is designed for individuals who want to advance their careers in the field of national security. Candidates from historically marginalized backgrounds with a strong desire to pursue a career in policy are encouraged to apply.

The ideal candidate:

  • Demonstrates a strong commitment to making a positive difference in the world through policy.
  • Seeks engagement with experts and other participants on national security issues broadly defined and professional development.
  • Hails from any relevant major with an interest in policy and/or national security. This includes but is not limited to majors in economics, environmental science, history, sociology, political science, global health, law, computer science, engineering, and international relations.
  • Identifies as belonging to a racial, ethnic, and/or historically marginalized group. Historically marginalized groups may include but are not limited to women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, Indigenous populations, socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, or non-native English speakers.
  • Can commit to attending at least 11 of the 13 meetings and are available from 3 – 7 PM on Thursday evenings throughout the spring semester.
  • Is currently enrolled as a sophomore, junior, or senior at an eligible university in the DMV at the time of their application.

Fellows will emerge from this experience with:

  • A thorough understanding of global and regional trends impacting various industries and political systems.
  • The ability to communicate and synthesize complex policy ideas confidently and persuasively.
  • A community of peers, mentors, CSIS professionals, and other professional resources in Washington, D.C.
  • Professional skills that stand out in today’s job market.

Eligible Universities

Since 2020, CSIS has served almost 60 students in the DMV area through its fellowship programs. In previous iterations, the CSIS fellowship has partnered with individual universities such as Trinity Washington University and Bowie State University to serve individual student populations. This year, the CSIS Policy Fellowship is expanding its reach and opening up applications to the following thirteen universities in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area.

  • American University (DC)
  • Bowie State University (MD)
  • Catholic University of America (DC)
  • Georgetown University (DC)
  • George Mason University (VA)
  • George Washington University (DC)
  • Howard University (DC)
  • Johns Hopkins University (MD)
  • Marymount University (VA)
  • Morgan State University (MD)
  • Trinity Washington University (DC)
  • University of the District of Columbia (DC)
  • University of Maryland, College Park (MD)

How To Apply

Applications for the CSIS Policy Fellowship open on November 9, 2023, and close on December 4, 2023, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. Apply here.

Applicants will be notified by mid-December and should be ready to begin in February 2024.


Fellows will engage in a robust learning journey that covers three components: (i) foreign policy seminars, (ii) professional skill-building, and (iii) networking and mentorship. The program culminates in a capstone project.

Participants must attend both mandatory introduction meetings, at least, and present their final capstone project to CSIS staff and mentors. Fellows will be recognized at a celebratory dinner with CSIS President and CEO Dr. John J. Hamre and awarded a certificate of completion by CSIS’s Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy.

National Security Seminars

Each seminar includes experiential learning components and opportunities to share input with experts. Below are examples of national security seminars offered in previous iterations:

  • Defining Security: CSIS and the Role of Think Tanks
  • Navigating the Policy Community with CSIS President and CEO Dr. Hamre
  • Seven Revolutions: Trends Shaping Our World to 2050
  • International Development: A Tool for U.S. Soft Power
  • Human Rights at Home and Abroad
  • Disinformation in the New Media Landscape
  • Tech Policy 101: Cyber, Artificial Intelligence, 5G
  • International Security Deep Dive
  • Three regional and/or thematic sessions that will be tailored to student’s academic and professional interests.


Professional Skill-Building

These interactive workshops provide tools and practices to strengthen professional skills for the workplace. Below are examples of professional skill-building sessions offered in previous iterations:

  • Diversity in Foreign Policy: Amplifying Your Voice
  • Authentic Leadership: Empowering Your Unique Skill Set
  • Networking 101
  • Research Methods and Policy Writing 101
  • Research Methods and Policy Writing 102
  • How to Conduct a Policy Brief
  • Data Storytelling with Open-Source Tools and Methods
  • Landing the Job: Enhancing Your Professional Portfolio
  • Advocating for Policy Change
  • Designing Engaging and Effective Presentations
  • Public Speaking: How to Stand Out


Networking and Mentorship

Fellows will be offered opportunities to connect with professionals at CSIS and across D.C. and be paired with CSIS mentors to support them throughout the fellowship and to provide tangible career advice

  • Government and Industry Roundtable: National Security Careers
  • Mentor/Mentee Networking Hour
  • WCAPS and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy Roundtable
  • CSIS Career Panel & Networking
  • Reception and Graduation Dinner with CSIS President and CEO Dr. John J. Hamre


The Experiential Capstone Project

The CSIS Fellowship will culminate in a two-part experiential capstone to reinforce skills developed and knowledge gained over the course of the program.

Part 1: Diplomacy Simulation: Great Power Competition

This real-world exercise will allow participants to simulate making decisions as government and business actors faced with an international crisis that demands immediate action under challenging circumstances. Each participant will be assigned a specific stakeholder role to research and represent during the simulation.

Part 2: Policy Project

Participants will work in groups to develop a policy initiative to solve a challenge they are passionate about. Each group will tackle a national security-related policy issue of their choice throughout the semester. Fellows will present their final projects to President Hamre, CSIS scholars, project advisors, and staff.

Sponsor the Fellowship

At CSIS Executive Education, we are working to expand access to our transformative programs. We cover all costs of the Policy Fellowship to provide access to students who might not otherwise be able to join us. If you are interested in supporting our mission-driven work and helping us grow our reach and impact, please visit our Donate page and designate a gift to Executive Education, or contact Donatienne Ruy, Director of the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy at


For questions about the CSIS Policy Fellowship, contact Julieze Benjamin at or Rafaela Demerath at