Graduate Fellowship Program FAQs

Program Elements

What are the elements of the 2022 Rangel Graduate Fellowship?

The Program will select 45 fellows for the 2022 fellowship with benefits including funding for tuition, mandatory fees, and stipends up to $42,00 per year (for two years). The Program will continue to allow a fuller range of management-related two-year programs such as a master’s in business administration, management science, and organizational development/leadership.  These degrees must have an international component, and they are excellent preparation for those interested in our management, consular, and economic career tracks. 

Eligibility Requirements

  1. What are the eligibility requirements?
    Applicants must:
  • be U.S. citizens
  • be seeking admission to enter graduate school in fall 2022 for a two-year program at a U.S.-based 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. Is there an age limit to apply to the Fellowship?
The fellowship has no specific age requirements. However, the State Department Foreign Service has an upper limit of 59 years old for entry, and the period between application to the fellowship and Foreign Service is normally around three years. 

Grade Point Average (GPA)

  1. 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, including all courses taken at undergraduate institutions, not just those in your major. Therefore, the program has no flexibility on the GPA requirement, and there is no rounding up to make the 3.2 requirement.
  2. As a result of COVID-19, I received only Pass/Fail grades during one or more semesters during the last school year as a result of COVID-19. Will this negatively impact my application?
    It will not negatively affect the application as long as the applicants meet all eligibility requirements. The undergraduate GPA issued by the institution which conferred or will confer the student’s degree at the time of application. 
  3. 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. Use the  GPA calculator to determine if you have met the program requirement. If you need additional assistance with calculating your GPA, please email 
  4. 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 their 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. I already have a Master’s degree and achieved a 3.2 or a greater. My undergraduate degree was below a 3.2. Am I eligible to apply?
    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.  If the Master’s degree covered a period of more than one year, applicants should provide all transcripts and calculate a cumulative GPA to determine eligibility. Use the GPA calculator to determine if you have met the program requirement. If you need additional assistance with calculating your GPA, please email


  1. 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 transcript, to be confirmed by the Program.
  2. I am a Permanent Resident of the United States and hope to get my citizenship soon.  Am I eligible to apply? 
    Applicants must be U.S. citizens on the day of the application deadline (September 29).  If they have not yet received citizenship by that day, they can apply in a future year once they get citizenship.

Graduate School Plans

  1. I am already in graduate school. Can I apply for the Fellowship for my second year of graduate school?
    Applicants must be seeking to start a two-year graduate program in fall 2022. Thus, an applicant could not use the fellowship to fund the remainder of an existing program. If the individual is planning to start a new two-year program in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service in fall 2022, he/she would be eligible. Applicants seeking admission to law school are not eligible.
  1. 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. Applicants seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall of 2022 for a two-year program are eligible to apply. The second master’s degree must be in a field related to the Foreign Service.
  1. 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.
  1. What are the requirements for an eligible graduate school?
    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. It must be an in-person rather than an online program.  If COVID-19 or another emergency causes a graduate program that is normally held in person to be offered online, Fellows can provide this information to the program, and the State Department and Rangel Program staff will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. 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 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 the University of Washington.

  1. Can you explain further what management-related graduate programs qualify for funding under the Rangel Fellowship?  
    The Foreign Service seeks to attract individuals interested in management, consular affairs, and economic affairs who have a strong grounding in best practices in areas such as management, leadership, talent management, data analytics, organizational development, and migration policy or law.  

    Two-year graduate programs that focus on these areas may be acceptable, provided these programs are applicable to the Foreign Service and have an international component (international-focused coursework).  Any study of law must lead to a two-year master’s in legal studies, not a JD, with a focus on an area of relevance to the Foreign Service (e.g., management or migration). 
  1. 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.  If you have already been admitted to a program that you plan to attend, you can upload your acceptance letter with your transcripts.
  1. 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 two programs at a U.S. university in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service; the Rangel Program discusses selected Fellows’ desired programs with them before giving final approval to a specific program.
  1. Which universities provide supplemental financial assistance to Rangel Fellows?
    Some universities (called partner schools) agree up front to provide supplemental financial assistance to Rangel Fellows who are admitted to their programs.  Other universities provide additional financial assistance on a case-by-case basis. 
    Click here for the full list of partner schools. 
  2. 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.
  3. Can I pursue an online graduate degree program?
    No.  The Rangel Program will only approve graduate programs that are in-person programs for fellowship funding.  If COVID-19 or another emergency causes a graduate program that is normally held in person to be offered online, fellows can provide this information to the program, and the State Department and Rangel Program staff will make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Application Questions

  1. 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. They are not required nor will applicants be disadvantaged by not providing them. 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. Please note that graduate programs to which applicants are applying may require the GRE. In those cases, applicants should consider how to meet the graduate school requirements independent of the Rangel Fellowship selection process. Waiting to take the GRE until after they hear the results of the fellowship decision may affect applicants’ competitiveness for some graduate programs.
  1. How will I know if my application is complete?
    You can check the status of your application, including uploaded materials, in your online application. If you see “Final” on the right navigation panel, your application has been submitted. Green checkmarks in the section tabs indicate you have completed all of the required questions.
  2. How do I officially submit my online application?
    The application will close on September 29 at 11:59pm EST. You have the option to submit the application earlier and to edit the application before the deadline. Your application is not automatically submitted at the close of the deadline. Once the application closes, you will not be able to edit your application.
  3. 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.
  4. Am I required to submit transcripts from every college/university I attended?
    You must submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities from which you obtained credits for two course (usually 6 credits) or more with your application. You do not need to send transcripts for courses taken in high school, including dual enrollment and AP classes, for which you received college credit.
  5. The college/university transcript is not in English and I am unable to obtain a translation. What do I do?
    It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide and arrange a translation, even if it is informal, and attach it to the transcript.
  6. What happens if my recommender tells me that they 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 again to their recommenders. You may need to follow up with your recommender if they have not responded and/or initiate a new request from your application. The link to the recommender portal expires two weeks after the initiation date. If applicants are unable to find the notification, please contact the Rangel Program staff at
  7. Can I apply for both the Rangel and Pickering Fellowships? Will my application be considered separately for both?
    Yes, you can apply to both the Thomas R. Pickering Affairs Fellowship and the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship. The two application and selection processes are separate.
  8. The COVID-19 crisis negatively affected my plans to study, live, or work overseas or to do a relevant internship. How will the selection panel consider the impact of COVID-19 when evaluating applications?
    We recognize that students and young professionals who are trying to build their academic and professional experiences have lost opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our selection panel is aware of this situation. Applicants can include relevant planned internship or program information with an indication of the cancellation because of COVID-19.
  9. I have been out of school for some time. Do I still need to submit a letter of recommendation from an academic professional?
    Our strong preference is that applicants provide a letter from an academic professional because this individual can provide insights into academic skills, performance, and potential that is relevant both to success in graduate school and the Foreign Service. If this is not possible, applicants can submit a letter from a non-academic source who is able to attest to academic-related skills, such as analytical skills, writing skills, substantive knowledge, and organization.
  10. Is completing the FAFSA and submitting the Student Aid Report (SAR) required for all applicants?
    Yes. All applicants must complete the latest FAFSA (2021-2022 academic year) and upload the SAR even if they are not currently enrolled in a college or university. Materials must be uploaded in advance of the fellowship deadline. The production of the SAR often takes several days to process after the FAFSA request is submitted, so applicants should file the FAFSA at least a week before the application deadline for the Rangel Fellowship.
  11. What is the difference between the Rangel and Pickering Fellowships?
    Both programs are U.S. Department of State programs that promote excellence and diversity in the Foreign Service. The main difference between the two programs is the nature of the domestic internship. Rangel Fellows do a domestic internship on Capitol Hill that focuses on Congress’ role in foreign policy, and the Pickering Fellows do a domestic internship at the State Department in Washington, DC.

Final Round of Fellow Selections

32. What will the final selection round consist of? 
The program will invite those selected as finalists to participate in a final found, which includes an interview with three selection panel members and a one-hour essay writing exercise.  Finalists will also participate in discussions with State Department, program, and program alumni who will talk more about the Foreign Service, program benefits and obligations, and the Rangel Program experience. 

33. How many finalists will the program select to interview for the fellowship?
The program will select 90 finalists to participate in the final round of selections, which includes an interview and a writing exercise. The selection panel will choose 45 fellows based on the final round assessments.

34. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, will the interviews/writing exercises be held in person? Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Rangel Program will conduct the final round of the selection process, which includes interviews and writing exercises for those selected as finalists, through virtual platforms. The program will provide additional details to those selected as finalists.

35. When will I know if I get the fellowship?
The Program will select and advise finalists by November 4, 2021, and advise all applicants of the decisions by email. For those selected as finalists, the interviews/writing exercises will be held November 29-December 2, with final decisions and offers conveyed by the end of the day on December 3, 2021.

Other Questions

  1. Does the Fellowship look for people with specific undergraduate majors?
    The Rangel Program welcomes applications from individuals with any undergraduate major.
  2. Is the Fellowship only open to Howard University students or graduates?
    No. Students who meet the eligibility requirements can apply, no matter where they did their undergraduate studies. Therefore, Rangel Fellows come from schools around the country.