The Thomas J. Watson Foundation in 1968 inaugurated the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program to enable college graduates of exceptional promise to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad following graduation. Students have an opportunity for a focused and disciplined Wanderjahr of their own devising–time in which to explore with thoroughness a particular interest, test their aspirations and abilities, view their lives and American society in greater perspective and, concomitantly, to develop a more informed sense of international concern.

Administered in cooperation with 40 outstanding private colleges and universities throughout the United States, the Watson Fellowship provides a grant of $30,000 to each recipient ($40,000 for fellows accompanied by a spouse or dependent child).

General Eligibility

Applicants must be graduating seniors who demonstrate integrity, strong ethical character, intelligence, the capacity for vision and leadership, and potential for humane and effective participation in the world community. A candidate's academic record, while not of primary importance, is considered together with those extracurricular activities which reflect both initiative and a commitment to the candidate's particular area of interest.

Application Process

Davidson College supports and must endorse qualified Davidson candidates for the Watson Fellowship. The College may nominate up to four candidates each year. Interested students should attend Watson Fellowship information sessions each fall and spring. Candidates must first apply through Davidson’s campus application process (early fall semester), followed by the official Watson process (early November).

The campus process requires advanced submission of application materials (including references’ recommendation letters) and at least one interview. The campus interview process will determine if a candidate is eligible for nomination.

A representative of the Watson Foundation will meet with Davidson’s four nominees on campus for an hour long, one-on-one interview in December or January. Applicants are notified in mid-March of the Foundation's decision.

Learn More

For more information, email Dean Byron McCrae at Also, visit the Thomas Watson Fellowship website or send an email to

For additional resources, contact the Fellowships and Scholarships Program, Center for Career Development, at or schedule a fellowships & scholarships advising appointment with Gaylena Merritt, Assistant Director for Fellowships & Scholarships, through Handshake (login required).

Recent Davidson Watson Fellows

2019 Natalie Connell, Ky Roland
2018 Sierra Ponthier
2017 Rachel McKay, Kate Joss
2016 Xzavier Killings, Alec Rotunda
2015 Yeeva Cheng
2014 Shneeka Center
2013 Nitya Rao
2012 Audrey Gyurgyik, Alexis Valauri-Orton
2011 Sara Bates, Annie Temmink
2010 Blake Evitt
2009 Laura Bergner
2007 Omer Hasmi, Amy Reid
2006 Chris Clunie
2005 Benjamin Nelson
2004 Gray Lyons
2003 Sara E. Romeis, William Neville, Kristine Grayson
2002 Danielle Dillard, Amber Hartman, Jason Hollis, Adam Norris 
2001 Elizabeth Neiheisel, Ben Carter
2000 Michael Griffen
1999 Emily Setina
1998 Kenneth Howard, Kathryn Palmer
1997 Patrick Montoya
1996 Amanda R. Curtis, Jennifer A. Hankins
1995 Rachel C. Newcomb
1994 David Tweedie
1993 Heather L. Tarpley, Reid R. French, Sara E. Carlson Tavernise
1992 John C. Patton, Thomas K. Johnson
1991 Margaret Hoyle, Douglas H. Jobe
1990 Jonathan P. Darsey, Katherine A. MacDonald
1989 Milbrey Raney
1988 Gaulden Herrero, David Ethridge 
1987 Laeta Kalogridis
1986 Sayres Rudy, Anne Lambert
1985 Virginia Richards, Mary Maczka
1984 Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, Malcolm Campbell 
1983 LeRoy Overby, Scott Eblin 
1982 Elizabeth Turnbull, Robert Ervin, William Bargmann
1981 Hugh Crenshaw
1980 Carol Robinson
1979 Laurie Lackey
1978 Jeffrey Metzel, John Craig
1976 Daniel Thorp, Andre Lams, John Crenshaw
1975 Thomas Nicoll, John Bevan
1974 Riger Manley, Ronald Gibson, Peter Celentano
1973 James Lehman, Stephen Baragona
1972 Lester Strong, Stephen Salyer, George Draughon, Robert Allen
1971 TJ Trussell, Royal McGraw 
1970 Benjamin Moore, Gary Henschen 
1969 Thomas Baker, Grant Anderson