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Thomas J. Watson Fellowship


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.

The Fellowship

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).

The Application

Two essays, a personal statement (max 1,500 words), and a proposal (max 1,500 words). Details are available at the Watson Foundation website.

Who Should Apply

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.

Campus Procedure

Interested students should attend the Watson Fellowship information session each fall and spring. The Graduate Fellowships and Scholarships Committee reviews applications and invites up to 15 applicants for a 15-minute interview. Those are held in mid-October to select four seniors to be nominated to the Watson Foundation. The nominations and four applications go to the Watson Foundation in early November. A representative of the Watson Foundation will meet with the four nominees on campus for an hour long, one-on-one interview in December or January. Details may be found on the Watson application instructions on Handshake including a Watson proposal template (DOC).

Campus Deadline

Applications are due via Handshake by 12 p.m. EDT on October, 4 2018.


Applicants (at this first stage of the process) need to have one letter of reference from a faculty member. Please have your recommender use the questions in the Davidson recommendations form (DOC) as guidance. They should put their recommendation into a Word document with the student's name in the file name and email Watson Fellowship proposals to with the student's name in the email subject line.

Watson Interviews

A representative of the Watson Foundation will meet with the 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, send an email to, or write to:

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation
293 South Main Street
Providence, R.I .02903
Fax: 401-274-1954

Recent Davidson Watson Fellows

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