Pickering Fellowships

Award Information

“In archaeology you uncover the unknown. In diplomacy you cover the known.”

Thomas R. Pickering, United States Ambassador and 17th Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs


The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship provides academic and professional preparation for outstanding candidates to enter the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service, representing America’s interests abroad. The Fellowship is a collaborative effort between the United States Department of State, which funds it, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, which administers it. The Fellowship is designed to attract outstanding individuals from all ethnic, racial and social backgrounds who have an interest in pursuing a Foreign Service career with the U.S. Department of State. Women, members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, and students with financial need are encouraged to apply.

Pickering Fellows are undergraduate and graduate students in academic programs relevant to international affairs, political and economic analysis, administration, management, and science policy. Fellows receive mentoring, professional development, and financial support as they prepare to enter the Foreign Service. Upon successful completion of the Foreign Service examination, Fellows make a commitment to a minimum of five years of service in an appointment as Foreign Service Officer. Accordingly, candidates must be able to obtain medical, security and suitability clearances in order to remain in the program.


For a complete list of eligibility requirements, please consult the Pickering Fellowship website. In general, students should:

  • Be U.S. citizens.
  • Plan to obtain a two year graduate degree with an international focus.
  • Be interested in international affairs, political or economic analysis, administration, management, science policy.
  • Plan to have a career in the foreign service and accept a 5 year commitment with the foreign service after you complete your graduate degree.


At Washington State University, students typically:

  1. Carefully determine their eligibility for this scholarship. Read thoroughly through the Pickering Fellowships website.
    1. Thoroughly read through the detailed eligibility criteria for the Pickering Fellowship.
    2. Review the 13 dimensions (i.e. qualities) of a Foreign Affairs Officer.
    3. Print a copy of the required application materials (available online).
  2. Attend workshops provided by the Distinguished Scholarships program.
    1. Intro to Distinguished Scholarships (provides an introduction to all nationally-competitive scholarships).
    2. (Fall) Merit based Scholarship Workshop (provides specific information about the Rhodes scholarship).
    3. Other Workshops, such as the “Writing for Scholarship” workshop or “Award-Winning Résumés” workshop.
  3. Schedule a meeting with the Director of the Distinguished Scholarships program and develop a plan for building an application driven by the accomplishments necessary to make it successful.
    1. After your meeting, draft your answers to the questions asked in the application on your word processor.
    2. Forward your draft to the Director of Distinguished Scholarships by email for review. You should plan to do several drafts of your work before the WSU deadline.
  4. Contact two recommenders to ask for a reference. Ask for a hard copy of these references one week before the WSU deadline (August 29) to be provided to Distinguished Scholarships. (Reference tips are available here.)
    1. Your recommendors should be faculty or other individuals with whom you have developed a strong relationship, because such people can provide a forceful and accurate appraisal of you as an applicant.

Application Notes

Before starting an application, carefully read the application information provided on the Pickering Fellowship website. The following items will be required either in the application itself or as supplemental items attached to it:

  1. In the Academics section, list the two top schools you’ve attended (if you’ve attended more than two, list these in additional information section). Note: You must provide transcripts from every school you’ve attended.
  2. Certification of U.S. Citizenship: A copy of your U.S. passport, birth certificate or naturalization papers will be required as a supplemental item attached to your applicaiton.
  3. Test Scoresnote that copies of GRE/GMAT scores are required for the graduate fellowship!
  4. Graduate Institutions—list those you plan to apply to or already have applied to.
  5. Foreign Languages—List the two you are most fluent in. (List any other foreign languages you speak in the additional information section.)
  6. References—Ask for these early! Make sure these are two people who know you well (see above).
  7. *MOST IMPORTANT* Personal Statement—This should speak to:
    1. Your experience. (Related: Your resume is required as a supplemental item to the application and should support what your personal statement says about your experience.)
    2. Why you want to join the foreign service:
      1. Which career track of the 5 cones are you interested in being a part of?
      2. Note: The Political Track is chosen most often.
    3. Why you need a fellowship.
    4. How graduate study will prepare you for a career in the foreign service.
    5. How you will serve the United States.
    6. How plan on making a difference.
  8. Extracurricular Section—Be clear and succinct.
  9. Financial Information
    1. Did you ever receive financial aid? If the answer is ‘yes’, then say ‘yes’ on the application and be ready to provide information about the aid you received, including your most recent Student Aid Report (which is generated from submission of FAFSA) and financial aid award letter listing grants or loans.
    2. If you did not file last year’s 1040 or receive your W2 or 1099 because you had no income, then write a note explaining you had no income in the previous year.
    3. Do not hesitate to contact the Pickering Fellowship if you have any questions.

Application Process

  1. Complete your application no later than August 29. Applications should be mailed, dropped off, or emailed as an attachment to Distinguished Scholarships (see our Contact Us page). Include:
    1. A copy of your GRE/GMAT scores.
    2. Personal statement regarding your commitment to foreign service on behalf of the United States (See “Application Notes” above).
    3. CV or résumé.
    4. 2 letters of recommendation mailed in a sealed envelope. (Tips for writing references)
    5. Transcripts from every college/university where you have received credit.
  2. Applications will be evaluated by the Washington State University Distinguished Scholarships Selection Committee. The committee will determine which applicants will be invited for an interview.
  3. Applicants who are invited to an interview will schedule an interview with the Distinguished Scholarships Endorsement Committee. Following the interview, the applicant will be informed as to whether their application will be endorsed by WSU.
  4. Applicants who are selected for endorsement by WSU may complete the online application by completing the following steps.
    1. Finalize changes to your personal statement.
    2. Complete the online application. Carefully fill in all required fields! Also, ensure that you have attached all required supplemental items as PDFs to your application (See “Application Notes” above).
    3. Confirm that your referees have completed the online review process.
    4. Proofread your work thoroughly.
    5. Submit your recent photograph to the Distinguished Scholarships office.
  5. The online application should be completed at least one week before the national deadline, i.e. by February 1.
  6. The Distinguished Scholarships program will provide the following:
    1. Endorsement letter through the Office of the President.
    2. Final submission of the online application. (If there is a problem with your application, Distinguished Scholarships will contact you by phone to correct it.)
    3. Mailing of the required documentation to the Pickering Fellowship before the national deadline.