The Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program seeks to attract outstanding young people who are interested in pursuing careers in the U.S. Agency for International Development Graduate Fellowship Program (USAID). 

The Payne Fellowship award includes funding toward completion of a two-year master’s degree at a U.S. institution. Payne Fellows also participate in one internship working on international issues in Washington, DC, and one overseas internship in a USAID Mission. 

At the conclusion of two years of study, each Payne Fellow is expected to obtain a degree in international development or another area of relevance to the work of the USAID Foreign Service at a U.S. graduate or professional school approved by the Payne Program. Fellows who successfully complete the Payne Program and USAID Foreign Service entry requirements will receive appointments as Foreign Service Officers with USAID.



The Payne Fellowship encourages the application of members of minority groups who have historically been underrepresented in international development careers and those with financial need. Review complete eligibility requirements on the program website

  • Class year: Graduating seniors and alumni seeking admission to enter graduate school for a two-year program at a U.S. university. 
  • Citizenship: U.S. Citizenship required
  • GPA: Minimum 3.2 at the time of application

Applying & Guidance

Eligible applicants may submit applications directly to the Payne Fellowship program. Review application tips and resources in the Payne Fellowship Application Toolkit (Davidson login required). 

Schedule an Office of Fellowships advising appointment with Gaylena Merritt, Director of Fellowships, to discuss your candidacy.