Graduate Fellowship Program FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the eligibility requirements?
    Applicants must

    • be U.S. citizens;
    • be seeking admission to enter graduate school in fall 2019 for a two-year program at a U.S. university in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service
    • have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale at the time of application
  2. GPA – I have a 3.1 cumulative GPA, with a 3.3 GPA in my major. Do I meet the Program’s requirement for a 3.2 GPA?
    No. The 3.2 GPA requirement is for a cumulative GPA, which includes all courses taken at all undergraduate institutions, not just those in your major. The Program has no flexibility on the GPA requirement.
  3. GPA – I have a 3.0 GPA from my current university but had a 3.7 at the first college I attended for two years. Would I qualify?
    Rangel Fellowship applicants must meet the minimum cumulative GPA eligibility of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. To determine cumulative GPA eligibility, the program uses: 1) the undergraduate GPA issued by the institution which conferred or will confer the applicant’s degree at the time of application or 2) 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.
  4. GPA – I graduated from an institution that provides course evaluations instead of a numerical GPA. How can I determine if I’m eligible?
    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.
  5. GPA – I am a U.S. citizen attending a university outside of the U.S., am I eligible to apply?
    Yes. For applicants who are U.S. 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.
  6. Grad School Entry – I am already in graduate school. Can I apply for the Fellowship for my second year of graduate school?
    No. Applicants are eligible only if they are seeking admission to enter graduate school in a U.S. institution in the fall of 2019 for a two-year program. Applicants seeking admission to law school are not eligible.
  7. I already have a master’s degree. Can I apply to the Rangel Program if I want to pursue a second master’s degree?
    Yes. If the applicant is seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall of 2019 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.
  8. Do I have to take the GRE?
    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.
  9. Is the program only open to Howard University graduates?
    No. Students who meet the eligibility requirements can apply, no matter where they did their undergraduate studies. Rangel Fellows come from schools around the country.
  10. Does the Rangel Program look for people with specific undergraduate majors?
    The Rangel Program welcomes applications from individuals with any undergraduate major. Past fellowship recipients have had a wide range of majors, including Political Science, Business, Economics, International Studies, English, Sociology, communications, and others. 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.
  11. Can the fellowship only be used at Howard University?
    No. The fellowship can be used to attend graduate programs throughout the United States, not just at Howard University. The fellow is expected to pursue a two-year degree at a U.S. based institution in international affairs or another area of relevance to the work of the Foreign Service, such as public administration, public policy, business administration, foreign languages, economics, political science or communications. Applicants apply for graduate school independently of their program application. They should include in their application proposed graduate schools to which they have applied or plan to to apply. If selected for the fellowship, the Program will discuss the graduate school choices with individual fellows. The Rangel Program, working with the Department of State, has final approval on the graduate program. Among the universities that Rangel Fellows have attended in the past are Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, Denver, Syracuse, Columbia, Pittsburgh, Cornell, George Washington, American University, University of Texas, University of California, Penn State, Georgia Tech and University of Washington.
  12. Is there an approved list of schools at which the fellowship can be used?
    There is no approved list of schools. However, Rangel Fellows are expected to pursue graduate studies in a program that will prepare them for their Foreign Service careers. As noted above, applicants may apply to any program at a U.S. university; the Rangel Program discusses selected Fellows’ desired programs with them before giving final approval to a specific program.
  13. Which universities provide supplemental financial assistance to Rangel Fellows?
    Some universities provide supplemental financial assistance to Rangel Fellows who are admitted to their programs.  Rangel Fellows are not required to attend these institutions, but they provide additional resources that can support graduate school for the fellows.
    Click here for full list. 
  14. How will I know if my package is complete?
    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.
  15. How do I officially submit my online application?
    The application will close on September 17, 2018 at 11:59pm EST. Your application will be automatically submitted at that time. If you want to submit it earlier, please e-mail the Rangel Program staff at and advise them that you are ready to submit your application.
  16. How do I submit an official statement of financial assistance if I have been out of school too long for my university/college to access my records?
    Since the Rangel Program takes into consideration an applicant’s financial need, we ask that candidates request an official financial aid statement from their undergraduate university/college. If the university/college no longer has the applicant’s financial records, mailing in financial aid documentation from a student’s own records will suffice. Also, applicants should be sure to discuss, in detail, their financial need in the required statement in the online application.
  17. If I am living overseas, do I still have to come to Washington, DC for an interview? 
    The Rangel Program may permit interviews and essay sessions via Skype, upon review of written request 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 Rangel 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.
  18. When will I know if I get the fellowship?
    The Program will select finalists by late October and bring them to Washington D.C. for interviews in November 7 and 8.  Fellowship offers generally come within a week after the interviews (by late November).
  19. Do I have to be accepted into graduate school to apply for the fellowship?
    No. Applicants are generally starting the application process for graduate school at the same time they are applying for the Rangel Fellowship. So, applicants should list programs to which they have applied or plan to apply. No acceptances are required.
  20. Can I use the fellowship to attend the London School of Economics or another international program?
    No, the fellowship can only be used at a U.S. based institution.
  21.  What happens if my recommender tells me that he/she did not receive the email notification to submit my letter of recommendation?
    Applicants should check their applications to make sure they added their recommenders’ correct email addresses.   If they did, an email invitation should have been sent to the recommender.  However, based on the security settings of the recommender’s email, automated notifications may get sent to “Junk Mailboxes” or “ Spam Folders”.  Your recommender can check these folders too.  Because applicants will be copied on all email notifications sent to their recommenders, applicants should check their own emails and junk mailboxes to see if they can find a copy of the email notification that they can forward it again to their recommenders. If applicants are unable to find the notification, please contact the Rangel Program staff at