James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program

About the program

Each year, through the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows program, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers approximately 10-15 one-year fellowships to uniquely qualified graduating seniors and individuals who have graduated during the past academic year. They are selected from a pool of nominees nominated by several hundred participating universities and colleges. James C. Gaither Junior Fellows work as research assistants to Carnegie’s senior scholars. Positions are paid, full-time positions for one year. A full benefits package is also provided.

James C. Gaither Junior Fellows spend one year (beginning September 1st) at Carnegie in Washington, DC working with Carnegie’s senior scholars in the following fields:

  • Democracy, Conflict, and Governance
  • American Statecraft
  • Nuclear Policy
  • Technology and International Affairs – Strong writing skills and research skills are essential.
  • Middle East – Strong reading fluency and the ability to perform academic as well as on-line research in Arabic essential. Strong background in Middle East politics and/or history is a huge plus.
  • International Security and Political Economy [to work with the South Asia Program] – Quantitative data analysis and GIS skills are required. A strong mathematical background is a plus. An academic background in international relations theory or international political economy along with an interest in military issues is essential.
  • Asia Program – Mandarin Chinese language skills are essential. Proficiency in another Asian language
    is a plus
  • Russia and Eurasia – Excellent Russian and/or Ukrainian reading skills required.
  • Africa
  • Global Order and Institutions
  • Sustainability, Climate, and Geopolitics – Basic data skills (such as helping create graphs or tables for Carnegie publications) are a plus. Applicants should have completed coursework related to sustainability and climate issues.
  • Europe – Fluency and the ability to perform research in a European language other than English are a plus. Background knowledge on European politics is essential

For additional insights into each program, review the topical essay writing prompts for each program and visit Carnegie’s online program listings.


  • U.S. citizenship is not required for this program (but you must be eligible to work in the U.S. for the duration of the fellowship)
  • Graduating seniors or recent alumni (having graduated during the last year: May 2023, August 2023, or December 2023 for the 2024-2025 award cycle). Students who have already started a graduate program are not eligible to apply.
  • Strong academic credentials and co-curricular involvement (independent research, research assistantships, student organizations, etc.) in areas relevant to the chosen assignment field.
  • Foreign language competency or even fluency is required for some of the project areas (as noted above).

Selection Criteria

Applications are judged on the quality of the written essays, related academic study and, work experience, research experience, grades, strong letters of recommendation, and interviews (for national finalists). The nomination committee will look for strong evidence of the applicant’s preparedness to conduct research in the proposed field. Excellent writing skills are essential, along with the specific criteria listed in the various programs described above.

Application procedures

The Gaither Junior Fellows requires institutional nomination. To apply as a 2024-2025 UW-Madison nominee, submit the following materials to awards@iris.wisc.edu by Friday, December 22, 2023, 10 a.m. CST.

  1. Applicants must compile and submit the following as a single pdf to awards@iris.wisc.edu by the deadline:
    • Completed Gaither Junior Fellows Program UW-Madison application form
    • 1-page double-spaced personal statement explaining why you would like to be a junior fellow
    • Resume/CV (preferably 1-2 pages)
    • Transcript of undergraduate record/s (unofficial preferred)
    • 3-page double-spaced topical essay corresponding to the program with which you hope to work at the Carnegie Endowment. Writing prompts for the 2024-2025 cycle are available here. The topics are intended to test skills in analysis, logic, and written expression. The essays should be analytical thought pieces, not research papers. Students should submit an essay related to their primary research program interests, although the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program may
      ultimately select an applicant for a program outside of the candidate’s designated primary interest or make an assignment to more than one program.

      • While candidates may indicate a second research program choice on the application, we encourage candidates to tailor their application towards their first choice.
  2. Applicants should also arrange to have the two letters of recommendation forwarded directly to the IRIS Awards Office by the January 3 deadline. These recommendations can come from whoever you feel can best speak to your abilities as a potential Gaither Junior Fellow though preferably from faculty or academic research supervisors who know you, your writing ability, and your academic preparedness for the specific project/region/topic well, and who can speak with knowledge and enthusiasm about why this opportunity is an excellent fit for you. Writers should email their signed letters on institutional letterhead directly to awards@iris.wisc.edu by the deadline above.

Those considering applying for the Gaither Junior Fellows Program are encouraged to reach out to awards@iris.wisc.edu to register your interest so that we can support you in the application process.

Gaither at-a-glance

The 2024-2025 application has now closed. UW-Madison nominating official: Sarah Linkert, IRIS Awards Office, awards@iris.wisc.edu

Campus deadline for the 2024-2025 application cycle: Friday, December 22, 2023, 10 a.m. CST

Application materials:

Thinking about applying? Have questions? Check out these FAQs or email awards@iris.wisc.edu