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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions frequently asked about the Pickering Graduate Fellowship Program.

No. The 3.2 GPA requirement is for a cumulative GPA, which includes all courses taken at institutions at a college/university level. The Program has no flexibility on the GPA requirement.

Applicants must meet the minimum cumulative GPA eligibility of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. To determine cumulative GPA eligibility, the program uses:

The undergraduate GPA issued by the institution which conferred or will confer the applicant’s degree at the time of application


A combination of the GPA issued by the undergraduate degree-conferring institution and GPAs obtained at other institutions where the applicant was enrolled for a minimum of one full academic year as defined by the institution.

Applicants who attend schools that do not provide formal GPAs must provide, on official school letterhead, a signed statement from their university’s registrar, academic advisor or other similarly ranked university official. This letter should state that the school official has reviewed the applicants’ transcript/coursework/evaluations/etc. and has determined, to the best of his/her ability, the applicant’s equivalent GPA on a 4.0 scale. The letter must specify the GPA equivalent. In such circumstances, applications without this written record are ineligible.

Yes. For applicants who are US citizens attending foreign institutions, the Program will determine U.S. GPA equivalents based on published standards for determining equivalency between foreign and U.S. grades from a particular country or university. The applicant should submit information on grade equivalency with their application, to be confirmed by the Program.

No. The undergraduate component of the program was phased out starting with the 2018 cohort. The Pickering Program now offers the graduate fellowship exclusively. You may apply to the graduate fellowship during the senior year of your undergraduate program or any time after you graduate, as long as you plan to start graduate school in the fall of the year for which you are applying.

No. Applicants are eligible only if they are seeking admission to enter graduate school in a U.S. institution in the fall of 2020 for a two-year program. Applicants seeking admission to law school are not eligible.

Yes. If the applicant is seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall of 2020 for a two-year program, she/he is eligible to apply. The second master’s degree must be in a field related to the Foreign Service, and if the first degree is already in such a field than the applicant may be considered less competitive.

Applicants have the option to submit their GRE or GMAT scores to demonstrate their readiness for graduate school. It is not required. Applicants should upload a copy of the official score sheet they receive. The GRE scores should not be sent directly to Howard University by testing authorities.

No. Students who meet the eligibility requirements can apply, no matter where they did their undergraduate studies. Fellows come from schools around the country.

The Pickering Program welcomes applications from individuals with any undergraduate major. While there is no required course of study, the panel is interested in seeing challenging academic programs and coursework in areas such as Mathematics/Quantitative Courses or Sciences, English, Economics, Business or Management, Government/Political Science, and Foreign Languages or Studies. Coursework in these areas is not required but can be a useful indicator of success in the program and beyond.

There is no approved list of schools. However, Pickering Fellows are expected to pursue graduate studies in a program that will prepare them for their Foreign Service careers. Applicants may apply to any program at a U.S. based university. The Pickering Program discusses selected Fellows’ desired programs with them before giving final approval to a specific program.

Some universities may provide supplemental financial assistance to Pickering Fellows who are admitted to their programs. Fellows are not required to attend these institutions, but they may provide additional resources that can support graduate school for the fellows.
A full list is available upon request by emailing

You can check the status of your application, including uploaded materials, in your online application. You will also be able to check whether we have received your letters of recommendation. You may e-mail if you have any questions.

Since the Pickering Program takes into consideration an applicant’s financial need, we ask that candidates request an official financial aid statement from their undergraduate university or college. If the university or college no longer has the applicant’s financial records, mailing in financial aid documentation from a student’s own records is sufficient. Applicants should also be sure to discuss, in detail, their financial need in the required statement of financial need.

The Pickering Program may permit interviews and essay sessions via Skype, upon review of written requests after finalist notifications are made, and in cases where individuals have a strong academic, professional, personal, or financial reason not to attend selection day in person. Those who are approved for Skype sessions must sign a document confirming their understanding that their participation via Skype (or other similar virtual electronic means) may possibly cause them to be at a disadvantage in the selection process. We strongly encourage candidates to participate in person. For finalists living overseas who participate in person, the Pickering Program will pay for travel segments within the United States and for accommodations in Washington. Finalists are responsible for arranging and funding international segments of their trip.

The Program will select finalists by late October and bring them to Washington, DC for interviews on November 6 and 7. Fellowship offers generally come within a week after the interviews (by mid-November).

Applicants are generally applying for graduate school at the same time they are applying for the Fellowship. Applicants should be in the process of applying to graduate school but do not have to be accepted.

Yes, you can apply to both the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship and the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Program. The two application and selection processes are separate. Thus, applicants are evaluated and selected in two distinct processes even though the timing is close. It is possible for applicants to be selected as finalists for both programs or for one and not the other. Similarly, applicants for the Pickering and/or Rangel Fellowships can also apply for the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship, which is a distinct program with a separate selection process.