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Foreign Agricultural Service Diversity Fellowship Program

The Foreign Agricultural Service Diversity Fellowship Program (FDFP) is a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program that identifies and prepares individuals interested in careers in USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. Those who successfully complete the program enter into the FAS Foreign Service, a uniquely rewarding career of international service. The program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in USDA and those with financial need. It is open to students and alumni of all universities and with any major. Based on the fundamental principle that diversity is a strength in U.S. engagement with the world, the program values candidates representing a wide range of backgrounds, including ethnic, racial, social, and geographic diversity.

The FAS Diversity Fellowship Program will provide graduate fellowships to qualified individuals who will attend two-year graduate programs in Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics at U.S. universities, provide two summer internships – one domestic and one overseas, offer mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer, and provide professional development activities.

The program ensures that the Foreign Service reflects the face of America to foreign audiences and provides a source of trained women and men who are dedicated to pursuing Foreign Service careers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Howard University administers the FAS Diversity Fellowship Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service.

Eligibility Requirements:

This is a highly selective program. To be eligible to participate, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen.
  2. Be seeking enrollment into a two-year graduate degree at a U.S. university for the Fall 2023 in a program relevant to the work of the FAS Foreign Service such as Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics.
  3. Have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Program Components

The Award

The FAS Diversity Fellowship Program (FDFP) plans to award four fellowships up to $42,000 annually for a two--year graduate program at a U.S. university toward tuition, room, board, books, and mandatory fees for completion of their Agribusiness or Agricultural Economic degrees.  This includes up to $24,000 a year for tuition and mandatory fees and an academic year stipend of $18,000.

The Degree

Fellows must begin a two-year graduate degree in Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics at a U.S. university beginning in fall 2023. To be eligible, prospective FDFP fellows must apply to the fellowship separately from their application to graduate school. Prospective FDFP Fellows are expected to work toward a two-year master’s degree, attend full-time, and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2 throughout their period of study. 

Orientation

Fellows will participate in an orientation at Howard University in Washington D.C. in late May. The purpose of this orientation is to familiarize the Fellows with all aspects of the fellowship and to enhance their understanding of, and skills for, FAS Foreign Service careers.

Two Summer Internships (Domestic and Overseas)

Fellows will participate in two internships. The first, a domestic internship, will occur in summer 2023, before the fellows begin their graduate degrees. The second internship will be an overseas placement in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate that takes place during the summer in between the first and second year of graduate studies. The program provides a stipend for internship participation and offers support for travel, housing, and other related expenses.

Fellowship Obligation

Upon accepting the fellowship, the selected finalists will sign a contract with USDA Foreign Agricultural Service that outlines the benefits and responsibilities of a Fellow.  Fellows must be able to obtain and maintain security and medical clearances in order to remain in the program.  Fellows also agree to a minimum five-year service commitment in the Department of Agriculture FAS Foreign Service.  The five-year service commitment begins upon entry into the Foreign Service.  Failure to meet the contractual obligations, including obtaining and maintaining required security and medical clearances, may result in your disqualification from the fellowship program and repayment to the U.S. Government of education-related financial assistance

2023 FAS Diversity Fellowship Program Timeline

Application Deadline October 6, 2022
Notification of Finalist Late-October 2022
Finalist Interviews Mid-November 2022
Fellowship Orientation Mid-May 2023
Domestic Internship Summer 2023
Begin first Year of Graduate School Fall 2023
Overseas Internship Summer 2024
Entrance into FAS Foreign Service Summer 2025

Eligibility Requirements

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

Applicants must;

  • be U.S. citizens;
  • be seeking admission to enter graduate school in fall 2023 for a two-year program at a U.S. based university in an Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics.
  • have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale at the time of application

GPA – I HAVE A 3.1 CUMULATIVE GPA, WITH A 3.3 GPA IN MY MAJOR. DO I MEET THE PROGRAM’S REQUIREMENT FOR A 3.2 GPA?

  • No. The 3.2 GPA requirement is for a cumulative GPA, which includes all courses taken at institutions at a college/university level. The Program has no flexibility on the GPA requirement.

GPA – I HAVE A 3.0 GPA FROM MY CURRENT UNIVERSITY BUT HAD A 3.7 AT THE FIRST COLLEGE I ATTENDED FOR TWO YEARS. WOULD I QUALIFY?

Applicants must meet the minimum cumulative GPA eligibility of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. To determine cumulative GPA eligibility, the Program uses:

  • The undergraduate GPA issued by the institution which conferred or will confer the applicant’s degree at the time of application
  • or
  • A combination of the GPA issued by the undergraduate degree-conferring institution and GPAs obtained at other institutions where the applicant was enrolled for a minimum of one full academic year as defined by the institution.

GPA – I GRADUATED FROM AN INSTITUTION THAT PROVIDES COURSE EVALUATIONS INSTEAD OF A NUMERICAL GPA. HOW CAN I DETERMINE IF I’M ELIGIBLE?

  • Applicants who attend schools that do not provide formal GPAs must provide, on official school letterhead, a signed statement from their university’s registrar, academic advisor or other similarly ranked university official. This letter should state that the school official has reviewed the applicants’ transcript/coursework/evaluations/etc. and has determined, to the best of their ability, the applicant’s equivalent GPA on a 4.0 scale. The letter must specify the GPA equivalent. In such circumstances, applications without this written record are ineligible.

GPA – I AM A U.S. CITIZEN ATTENDING A UNIVERSITY OUTSIDE OF THE U.S.,AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

  • Yes. For applicants who are US citizens attending foreign institutions, the Program will determine U.S. GPA equivalents based on published standards for determining equivalency between foreign and U.S. grades from a particular country or university. The applicant should submit information on grade equivalency with their application, to be confirmed by the Program.

GPA – I ALREADY HAVE A MASTER’S DEGREE AND ACHIEVED A 3.2 OR A GREATER. MY UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE WAS BELOW A 3.2. AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

To determine cumulative GPA eligibility, the program uses:

  • the undergraduate GPA issued by the institution which conferred or will confer the applicant’s degree at the time of application or
  • a combination of the GPA issued by the undergraduate degree-conferring institution and GPAs obtained at other institutions where the applicant was enrolled for a minimum of one full academic year as defined by the institution. If the Master’s degree covered a period of more than one year, applicants should provide all transcripts and calculate a cumulative GPA to determine eligibility.

CITIZENSHIP – I AM A PERMANENT RESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND HOPE TO GET MY CITIZENSHIP SOON. AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens on the day of application (October 6, 2022). If they have not yet received citizenship by that day, they can apply in a future year once they get citizenship.

Graduate School Plans

GRADUATE SCHOOL PLANS – I AM ALREADY IN GRADUATE SCHOOL. CAN I APPLY FOR THE FELLOWSHIP FOR MY SECOND YEAR OF GRADUATE SCHOOL?

  • Applicants must be seeking to start a new two-year graduate program in fall 2023 in either Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics. Thus, an applicant could not use the fellowship to fund the remainder of an existing program in either field. If the individual is planning to start a new two-year program in in fall 2023, and their existing program is not related to Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics he/she would be eligible.

GRADUATE SCHOOL PLANS – I ALREADY HAVE A MASTER’S DEGREE. CAN I APPLY TO THE PROGRAM IF I WANT TO PURSUE A SECOND MASTER’S DEGREE?

  • Yes. Applicants seeking admission to enter graduate school in the fall of 2023 for a two-year program in Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics are eligible to apply. The first master’s degree must not be in either Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics.

GRADUATE SCHOOL PLANS – CAN THE FELLOWSHIP ONLY BE USED AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY?

  • No. The fellowship can be used to attend graduate programs in Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics throughout the United States.

GRADUATE SCHOOL PLANS – WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN ELIGIBLE GRADUATE SCHOOL?

  • The fellow is expected to pursue a two-year degree at a U.S. based institution in Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics. It must be an in-person rather than an online program. If COVID-19 or another emergency causes a graduate program that is normally held in person to be offered online, fellows can provide this information to the program, and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and FDFP Program staff will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Applicants apply for graduate school independently of their fellowship application. They should include in their application proposed graduate schools to which they have applied or plan to apply. If selected for the fellowship, the Program will discuss the graduate school choices with individual fellows. The FDFP Program, working with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, has final approval on the graduate program.

GRADUATE SCHOOL PLANS – DO I HAVE TO BE ACCEPTED INTO GRADUATE SCHOOL TO APPLY FOR THE FELLOWSHIP?

  • No. Applicants are generally starting the application process for graduate school at the same time they are applying for the FAS Diversity Fellowship Program. So, applicants should list programs to which they have applied or plan to apply. No acceptances are required. If you have already been admitted to a program that you plan to attend, you can upload your acceptance letter with your transcripts.

GRADUATE SCHOOL PLANS – IS THERE AN APPROVED LIST OF SCHOOLS AT WHICH THE FELLOWSHIP CAN BE USED?

  • There is no approved list of schools. However, FDFP Fellows are expected to pursue graduate studies in Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics. The FDFP Program discusses selected Fellows’ desired programs with them before giving final approval to a specific program.

GRADUATE SCHOOL PLANS – CAN I PURSUE AN ONLINE GRADUATE DEGREE PROGRAM?

  • No. The FDFP Program will only approve graduate programs that are in-person programs for fellowship funding. If COVID-19 or another emergency causes a graduate program that is normally held in person to be offered online, fellows can provide this information to the program, and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and FDFP Program staff will make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

OTHER – DOES THE FAS DIVERSITY FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM (FDFP) LOOK FOR PEOPLE WITH SPECIFIC UNDERGRADUATE MAJORS?

  • The FDFP welcomes applications from individuals with any undergraduate major.

OTHER – IS THE PROGRAM ONLY OPEN TO HOWARD UNIVERSITY GRADUATES?

  • No. Students who meet the eligibility requirements can apply, no matter where they did their undergraduate studies. FDFP Fellows may come from schools around the country.

OTHER – IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT TO APPLY TO THE FELLOWSHIP?

  • The fellowship has no specific age requirements. However, the FAS Foreign Service has an upper limit of 59 years old for entry, and the period between application to the fellowship and Foreign Service is normally around three years.

Application Questions

DO I HAVE TO TAKE THE GRE?

  • Applicants have the option to submit their GRE or GMAT scores to demonstrate their readiness for graduate school. They are not required nor will applicants be disadvantaged by not providing them. Applicants should upload a copy of the official score sheet they receive. The GRE scores should not be sent directly to Howard University by testing authorities. Please note that graduate programs to which applicants are applying may require the GRE. In those cases, applicants should consider how to meet the graduate school requirements independent of the FAS Diversity Fellowship selection process. Waiting to take the GRE until after they hear the results of the fellowship decision may affect applicants’ competitiveness for some graduate programs.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY PACKAGE IS COMPLETE?

  • You can check the status of your application, including uploaded materials, in your online application. You will also be able to check whether we have received your letters of recommendation. You may e-mail FASdiversityfellowship@howard.edu if you have any questions.

HOW DO I OFFICIALLY SUBMIT MY APPLICATION?

  • The application will close on October 6 at 11:59 P.M. EST. You have the option to submit the application earlier and to edit the application before the deadline. Your application is not automatically submitted at the close of the deadline. Once the application closes, you will not be able to edit your application.

HOW DO I SUBMIT AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IF I HAVE BEEN OUT OF SCHOOL TOO LONG FOR MY UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE TO ACCESS MY RECORDS?

  • Since the FDFP Program takes into consideration an applicant’s financial need, we ask that candidates request an official financial aid statement from their undergraduate university/college. If the university/college no longer has the applicant’s financial records, uploading financial aid documentation from a student’s own records will suffice. Also, applicants should be sure to discuss, in detail, their financial need in the required statement in the online application.

AM I REQUIRED TO SUBMIT TRANSCRIPTS FROM EVERY COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY I ATTENDED?

  • You must submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities from which you obtained credits for two course (usually 6 credits) or more with your application. You do not need to send transcripts for courses taken in high school, include dual enrollment and AP classes, for which you received college credit. If the courses taken at another institution along with the grades are listed on the transcript from your primary institution, you do not need to submit a separate transcript. If the primary transcript shows a transfer of the course but not a grade, you do need to submit an unofficial transcript from the original school.

THE COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY TRANSCRIPT IS NOT IN ENGLISH AND I AM UNABLE TO OBTAIN A TRANSLATION. WHAT DO I DO?

  • It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide/arrange a translation, even if it is informal, and attach it to the transcript.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY RECOMMENDER TELLS ME THAT HE/SHE DID NOT RECEIVE THE EMAIL NOTIFICATION TO SUBMIT MY LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION?

  • Applicants should check their applications to make sure they added their recommenders’ correct email addresses. If they did, an email invitation should have been sent to the recommender. However, based on the security settings of the recommender’s email, automated notifications may get sent to “Junk” or “Spam” Folders. Your recommender can check these folders too. Because applicants will be copied on all email notifications sent to their recommenders, applicants should check their own emails and junk mailboxes to see if they can find a copy of the email notification that they can forward it again to their recommenders. If applicants are unable to find the notification, please contact the Program staff at FASdiversityfellowship@howard.edu.

THE COVID-19 CRISIS NEGATIVELY AFFECTED MY PLANS TO STUDY, LIVE, OR WORK OVERSEAS OR TO DO A RELEVANT INTERNSHIP. HOW WILL THE SELECTION PANEL CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 WHEN EVALUATING APPLICATIONS?

  • We recognize that students and young professionals who are trying to build their academic and professional experiences have lost opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our selection panel is aware of this situation. Applicants can include relevant planned internship or program information for spring, summer, or fall 2022, with an indication of the cancellation because of COVID.

I HAVE BEEN OUT OF SCHOOL FOR SOME TIME. DO I STILL NEED TO SUBMIT A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FROM AN ACADEMIC PROFESSIONAL?

  • Our strong preference is that applicants provide a letter from an academic professional because this individual can provide insights into academic skills, performance and potential that is relevant both to success in graduate school and the Foreign Service. If this is not possible, applicants can submit a letter from a non-academic source who is able to attest to academicrelated skills such as analytical skills, writing skills, substantive knowledge, and organization.

GPA – MY SPRING 2020 SEMESTER I RECEIVED ONLY PASS/FAIL GRADES AS A RESULT OF COVID-19. WILL THIS NEGATIVELY IMPACT MY APPLICATION?

  • It will not negatively affect the application as long as the applicants meet all eligibility requirements.

IS COMPLETING THE FAFSA AND SUBMITTING THE STUDENT AID REPORT (SAR) REQUIRED FOR ALL APPLICANTS?

  • Yes. All applicants must complete the latest FAFSA (2023-2024 academic year) and upload the SAR even if they are not currently enrolled in a college or university. Materials must be uploaded in advance of the fellowship deadline. The production of the SAR often takes several days to process after the FAFSA request is submitted, so applicants should file the FAFSA at least a week before the application deadline for the FAS Diversity Fellowship.

Interview Process/Selection of Fellows

WHAT WILL THE FINAL SELECTION ROUND CONSIST OF?

  • The program will invite those selected as finalists to participate in a final round, which includes an interview with three selection panel members, a one-hour essay writing exercise, and group dynamics exercise. Finalists will also participate in discussions with USDA Foreign Agricultural Service who will talk more about the FAS Foreign Service, program benefits and obligations, and the FDFP Program experience.

HOW MANY FINALISTS WILL THE PROGRAM SELECT TO ADVANCE TO THE FINAL ROUND INTERVIEW AND WRITING EXERCISE FOR THE FELLOWSHIP?

  • The program will select 12 finalists to participate in the final round of selections, which includes an interview, a writing exercise, and group dynamics exercise. The selection panel will choose 4 fellows based on the final round assessments.

WHEN WILL I KNOW IF I GET THE FELLOWSHIP?

  • The Program will select and advise finalists by October 26, 2022, and advise all applicants of the decisions by email. For those selected as finalists, the interviews/writing/group dynamics exercises will be held November 10-11, 2022, with final decisions and offers conveyed by the end of the day on November 11, 2022.

Program Elements

WHAT WILL I DO DURING MY DOMESTIC INTERNSHIP?

  • The domestic internship will be a ten-week experience arranged by the Foreign Agricultural Service at the Foreign Agricultural Service headquarters or a related entity that will allow fellows to learn about the work of FAS Foreign Service Officers and develop relevant professional skills. The program will arrange the internships, provide a stipend, housing, and transportation for the internship.

WHAT WILL I DO DURING MY OVERSEAS INTERNSHIP?

  • The overseas internship will be a ten-week experience arranged by the Foreign Agricultural Service at a FAS office in an embassy or consulate overseas. Working closely with FAS Foreign Service Officers and locally employed staff, FDFP fellows will get hands-on experience in the work of FAS Foreign Service Officers, develop relevant professional skills, and learn about the work and lifestyle of Foreign Service Officers. The program will arrange the internships, provide a stipend, housing, and transportation for the internship.

Process

1. Register

Click on the "Register" link and complete and submit the registration form.

2. Login

Login to the award with your email and password.

3. Create

Create your online application. For a list of required information and attachments, please review the Application Requirements Guide

4. Save

During the Call for Applications period, your application can be saved as DRAFT until all the required information is completed and attachments uploaded. As each section is complete, you will see a appear in the category tab when the application is saved. Please ensure that all attachments are in Acrobat PDF format. At any time, you can download and print your application by clicking on the icon in the Application Summary section.

5. Submit

On completion, save your Nomination as FINAL. Download and print a copy of your application for your records by clicking on the icon in the Application Summary section in the right column. Note: If an update is required prior to the Call for Applications period, you can make the update and resave as FINAL.

If you require assistance or additional information, please contact the Program staff at FASDiversityFellowship@howard.edu.

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Foreign Agricultural Service Diversity Fellowship Program
2218 6th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20059
Phone: 202-250-5358
Email: FASDiversityFellowship@howard.edu
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