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 41 outstanding private colleges and universities throughout the United States, the Watson Fellowship provides a grant of $36,000 to each recipient.

General Eligibility

For ideal candidate and proposal characteristics, contact the Fellowships & Scholarships Program. 

  • Class year: Graduating seniors 

Other eligibility guidelines:

  • Individuals 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 nominate 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). Certain candidates will be invited to interview with a campus committee.

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.

The campus nomination application process and resources are in the Watson Fellowships Toolkit article (Handshake login required). 

Learn More

For more information, email Dean Byron McCrae at For additional resources, contact the Fellowships and Scholarships Program at or schedule a Fellowships & Scholarships advising appointment with Gaylena Merritt, Associate Director for Fellowships & Experiential Learning, through Handshake (login required).

Davidson Watson Fellows

2021 - Langston Stephens

2020 - Maddie Hunter, Roy Toston

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 Anderso