FAQ about S&T Policy Fellowships
Questions About the Fellowships Program
Q: When is the AAAS Fellowship application deadline?
The annual deadline is 1 November, without exception. All required information, including three letters of recommendation, must be submitted by midnight U.S. Eastern Daylight Time on that date. Applications are accepted beginning 1 May until the application deadline of 1 November, for the fellowship class that begins the following September.
Q: How many individuals apply each year and how many are selected?
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 fellowships that fit best with your interests and area of expertise. It is in those areas that you will be most competitive. Overall, AAAS awards more than 130 first-year fellowships annually. In addition, approximately 30 congressional and 10 executive branch fellowships are selected and awarded by our partner scientific and engineering societies.
Q: How do I prepare a competitive application?
Applicants can improve their chances of gaining a fellowship by reading all sections of the Fellowships website thoroughly to ensure an understanding of the focus of the five fellowship program areas, the eligibility requirements, and the application instructions. Applicants should allow enough time to develop a comprehensive, well-presented and error-free candidate statement. It is critical to contact references early to provide them time to prepare a thoughtful and thorough letter of recommendation. It is also essential to follow the application instructions. Do not submit documents that exceed the mandated page or word limit. If called for an interview, prepare to concisely articulate your interests and background, and be able to discuss how your science relates to policy.
Q: May I apply to more than one AAAS Fellowship area?
Yes, you may apply for up to two fellowship areas via AAAS. Keep in mind that each fellowship area is distinct from the others, with a unique focus and requirements. It is necessary to submit a separate application for each fellowship area. To learn more about the five fellowship program areas, please click here.
Note: Additional fellowships are available via our partner scientific and engineering societies.
Q: What happens if one or more of my recommendations arrive late or not at all?
All required information must be received by the 1 November deadline in order to forward an application to the initial review stage. Applications with fewer than three recommendation letters will be designated as ineligible and will not be forwarded for review.
Q: When will applicants be notified about the status of their application and candidacy for a fellowship?
Applicants will be notified of the status of their application at several points through the 2013-14 application and selection process. Please see the Fellowship Schedule for details.
Q. What are possible reasons that an applicant is not selected to advance in the review process or selected for a Science & Technology Policy Fellowship?
Applicants may not be selected for a number of reasons that are in no sense a negative reflection on the individual or her/his science. These reasons might include those noted below.
- The applicant is perceived to be at too early a stage in her/his career to benefit fully from the fellowship.
- The applicant has not demonstrated a focus on applying his/her science in a broader societal and policy context.
- The applicant is perceived to be already well-skilled in policy-related activities, and therefore would not benefit fully from the experience that the fellowship provides.
Q: Can I reapply for a AAAS Fellowship?
Yes. AAAS does not impose limits on the number of times a candidate may apply. There are AAAS Fellows who have been selected upon their second or third application.
Q. May I receive feedback on my application either before or after it is submitted, or on an interview?
No. AAAS does not provide written or verbal feedback on applications or interviews. The pool of applicants, the semi-finalists, the reviewers, and the configuration of the Selection Committees change annually. Therefore, commentary will not necessarily be relevant to the next application cycle.
Q: Who is the ideal candidate for a AAAS fellowship?
There is no "ideal" candidate for a fellowship. Fellows come from many different disciplines in science and engineering; they arrive from academia, industry and the non-profit sectors; and they represent a broad range of career stages, from recently graduated postdocs to mid-career professionals and faculty on sabbatical, to retired individuals.
Q: Is previous experience in public policy necessary to be a strong candidate?
No, the fellowships are designed to help scientists and engineers learn about the policymaking process by participating in it. However, it is important to convey an understanding of the societal impacts of science in your application materials and during an interview. You should also be prepared to speak about how your specific scientific specialty relates to policy issues and how it can be applied in government decision-making.
Q: Do I have to have PhD to apply for a AAAS Fellowship?
No. If you have a master's degree in any field of engineering with a minimum of three years professional experience (not including further academic studies) you may apply for a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship. Scientists in the biological, physical, health/medical, or social sciences are required to have a terminal scientific degree (e.g. PhD, ScD, DVM, MD, etc.) to apply for a AAAS Fellowship.
Q: I am completing my doctorate after the application deadline but before the fellowship year starts. Can I still apply?
No. AAAS will NOT accept applications from anyone who does not meet the degree requirements by 1 November. If that is your situation, we hope that you will consider applying next year. NOTE: Other scientific societies sponsoring congressional and executive branch fellowships have different application deadlines and selection criteria. We encourage you to explore other appropriate societies based on your discipline. For a list of these societies, please click here.
Q: What if I have completed all of my requirements for my doctorate, but my degree will not be conferred until after 1 November?
Candidates who have completed all of the requirements for their PhD or equivalent degree by 1 November, but whose degree will not be conferred until after 1 November, may be eligible for a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship. The candidate must complete all degree requirements by 1 November, including dissertation defense and any revisions. In addition, the candidate's committee chair or equivalent appropriate official must submit a letter verifying that the candidate has satisfied all requirements for the PhD or equivalent degree. The letter must state the official date the degree will be conferred.
Q: May I apply with permanent resident status even though I am not a U.S. citizen?
No. US citizenship is required for all Fellowships. Permanent resident status does not qualify.
Q: May I apply if I expect to have my citizenship before the fellowship year begins?
No. Applicants must have citizenship at the time of application.
Q: Why are federal employees not eligible for the AAAS Fellowships?
The AAAS Fellowships are designed to educate about the policy process, and to bring additional scientific knowledge and external perspectives to government decision-making. Federal employees are often already involved in the policy process, and they would not bring external perspectives. Those not in policy-related positions have the opportunity to seek such positions from within the government system. There also are other options for federal employees to arrange exchanges that provide an experience in another agency or on Capitol Hill, such as an IPA (inter-personnel agreement). Also, the executive branch fellowships are funded by the hosting agencies and they seek individuals who cannot easily move into the system without a fellowship. NOTE: Some of the other scientific societies that sponsor Congressional and executive branch fellowships do accept applications from federal employees. For more information please click here.
Q: Are post-docs at federal agencies or national labs considered federal employees?
No, with the exception of individuals holding Title 42 positions. This category conveys the privileges of federal employment, and therefore is not eligible for the AAAS Fellowships. Applicants who hold a temporary/term-limited fellowship or post-doc with a federal agency are considered eligible, as are post-docs at national labs who are funded by a federal agency.
Q: I currently work for Congress; am I considered a federal employee?
Yes. Anyone working in a full-time, paid, permanent position at the federal level of government (including the executive, judicial and legislative branches) is considered a federal employee for eligibility purposes.
Q: Are members of the military eligible to apply?
Yes, members of the active military are eligible to apply, provided that the applicant is not part of the career military, that military service has ended before the start of the fellowship, and the applicant meets the other eligibility criteria.
Q: I applied last year; do I need to complete the verification form again?
Yes, your applicant data must be reassessed each application year. Because several items may change, data from each application year is independent; older applicant data cannot be utilized in the current application cycle.
Q: I have to withdraw my application; can I get a refund for my form fee?
No, the verification of applicant data is processed by an external organization and requires a nominal fee paid by you directly to the verification vendor, not to AAAS. AAAS does not receive any of the funds and cannot provide a refund.
Questions about the Fellowships Program
Q: Does AAAS have any fellowship programs for undergraduate or graduate students?
Yes. AAAS also administers the Mass Media Fellowship Program, which places undergraduate and graduate students at various media sites throughout the U.S. during the summer, to work as science journalists. For more information about this program, contact Rahman Culver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: When do the interviews take place?
The selection interviews take place in early March, with follow-up placement interviews in mid-April. Candidates must be available for interviews and there are no exceptions or deferrals.
Q: Does AAAS pay travel costs for interview candidates?
Yes. Documented transportation costs at the lowest economy fare for round-trip travel for both domestic and international candidates will be covered. Lodging in DC is provided, and AAAS will also reimburse expenses for meals, reasonable, documented transport to/from the airport and reasonable local transportation to/from the interview.
Q: After the interviews, if I am eligible for a fellowship, do I have a voice in where I am placed?
Yes. Placements in all the fellowship program areas are joint decisions between the finalist, the interested host office, and AAAS.
Q: If awarded a fellowship, how do I prepare for the experience?
In early September, AAAS provides a mandatory two-week orientation program that indoctrinates Fellows to the workings of the federal government and provides exposure to some of the issues, institutions, and individuals involved in federal policy making. Prior to orientation, the AAAS Fellowships department provides written materials and a variety of resources that assist Fellows to prepare for their year in Washington, D.C.
Q: What is the duration of the AAAS Fellowships?
The fellowships are 12-month learning experiences beginning on 1 September and ending on 31 August. Individuals accepting a fellowship must sign an agreement acknowledging this year-long commitment. Some exectuvie branch fellowships may renew for a second year at the mutual agreement of the host office, the Fellow, and AAAS. Second year renewals are contingent upon the availability of funding.
Q: Are the AAAS Fellowships available every year?
The AAAS 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. Some fellowship areas and assignments are funded for multiple years, while others are available only as funding is secured on an annual basis.
Q: May I opt for a shorter fellowship?
No. The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships are available only as a 12-month commitment in the first year of an assignment. However, second year assignments may be for shorter durations at the mutual agreement of the host office, the Fellow, and AAAS.
Q: What is the location of the Fellowships?
All AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships are based in Washington, D.C. in the first year of an assignment. At the mutual agreement of the host office, the Fellow, and AAAS, fellowship assignments may move to a different operating base in the second (renewal) year.
Q: Who funds the fellowships?
The majority of the executive branch fellowships are funded by the agencies and offices where AAAS Fellows are placed. The Congressional Science & Engineering Fellowships are funded by the sponsoring scientific and engineering societies that recruit and select those Fellows.
Q: What impact have fellowships had on the career paths of former Fellows?
In the year immediately following their fellowship, approximately 40-50% of the Fellows continue working in the policy realm (not necessarily in government positions); 20-25% return to the sector in which they worked previously; and another 20-25% use the experience as a stepping stone to a new opportunity. Click here to read about AAAS Fellows' perspectives on their experiences.