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The Catholic Relief Services International Development Fellows Program, or IDFP, is an opportunity for people interested in careers in international relief and development with a faith-based organization to experience our programs overseas.

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Each year, CRS places approximately 20–30 fellows in our country programs. Assignments, of approximately 10 months, start in August. Specific job responsibilities vary from country to country, but usually include work in agriculture, health, peacebuilding, education, microfinance, or a combination of these. The goal of the IDFP is to place fellows in positions where they can draw on their previous education and work experience while broadening their skills. Most of our fellowships lead to permanent positions with CRS.

Application for August 2017 deployment

The IDFP application is open. CRS accepts applications on a rolling basis; however, we will prioritize review of applications received by October 15, 2016. Applications received after December 1, 2016 will be considered for the 2018–2019 cycle.

There are 3 steps required to successfully submit your application for the CRS Fellows 2017–2018 application cycle. Please follow these instructions carefully for consideration:

  1. Fill out the 2017–2018 IDFP application (note that there are fewer than 10 easy-to-complete questions). Please fill out the application using ONLY Firefox or Chrome browsers. The application is currently not supported on internet explorer. We are working on fixing this issue. Click the button below to apply.


  2. Write your cover letter for the IDFP program. The cover letter should address the following:
    1. The volunteer and/or work experience that you have had overseas.
    2. The opportunities/challenges you might face working for Catholic Relief Services as a fellow in a developing country.
  3. Send an email to [email protected] with the following information:
    1. Your updated resume (your complete name in the filename, PDF preferred)
    2. Your IDFP cover letter (your complete name in the filename, PDF preferred)

We receive many applications—please be patient. We will get back to you by December if we are interested in having you proceed to the next stage of the process. Due to the high volume of IDFP applications, only applicants successfully moving on to further stages will receive further communication.

Please note that the dates below are approximate.

For frequently asked questions about the International Development Fellows Program, please see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

  • Graduate degree from a U.S based or U.S accredited university
  • Professional proficiency in French, Spanish, Arabic or Portuguese
  • At least 6 months of work or volunteer experience in a developing country (or 5+ years living experience in a developing country)
  • Ability to work respectfully and professionally in a cross-cultural environment
  • Strong interest in a long term career working in a variety of developing countries

What we offer

CRS provides IDFP participants with the following benefits:

  • Great opportunities for professional growth and development overseas
  • Stipend and furnished housing
  • Transportation to and from the country
  • Extensive insurance coverage (medical, life, travel/accident, evacuation and personal household effects)
  • Paid vacation, sick and personal leave, and 12 paid holidays
  • Language learning assistance

CRS fellow Rafael Merchan, second from right, in Malawi.
CRS fellow Rafael Merchan, second from right, in Malawi. Photo courtesy of Rafael Merchan
International Development Fellows Program FAQs

The International Development Fellows Program

Jerusalem's Old City.
Jerusalem's Old City. Photo courtesy of Maggie Holmesheoran

How many fellows do you select each year?
CRS accepts approximately 25 to 30 fellows. We expect to select 25-30 fellows for August 2017. How many applications do you receive? In the past 3 years, CRS has received an average of about 500 applications per year.

When will I know if I am accepted?
Approximately 100-125 candidates will be selected for video interviews and language tests from September through December. Of these, 30-35 will be chosen for a full day of interviews in January. Interview invitations will be extended by early January. We will make offers for the fellowship in February.

How much is the stipend?
For 2016, the stipend is $27,000. Fellows pay their portion of health insurance premiums like other CRS employees. Depending on their country assignment, some fellows may receive a cost-of-living adjustment.

What kind of work will I do?
Fellows support multiple projects, are exposed to many elements of project management, and work with various sectors. They also do rotations in Finance and other departments. All of this prepares fellows for management positions later in their careers.

What countries can I work in?
The list of country programs hosting fellows changes from year to year. We place fellows in all regions where we work, with the greatest number of positions in Africa. Please see More Information on the Fellowship for the locations of fellows in 2016-17.

Can I choose the country or region where I will be placed?
Fellowship placements are made considering language ability, a fellow’s experience, and the needs of country programs and regions. While personal preferences are considered, we do not guarantee a geographical or sectoral match. If focus in a specific sector or placement in a particular country is important to you above all else, then the fellowship program may not be the best fit for you.

Will I get to travel?
Fellows’ job descriptions vary widely depending on the needs of the country programs. Fellows generally travel regularly within their country of placement and at least once outside of it on a temporary duty assignment.

What will my housing be like?
CRS provides safe, furnished housing for each fellow. CRS fellows have a standard of living that could be described as above that of Peace Corps volunteers but below that of someone in the Foreign Service. For example, you will have electricity, running water and security services, if necessary, but not cable TV.

Can spouses accompany fellows?
CRS will cover the costs of airfare, insurance and immunizations for accompanying spouses and dependents. As a Catholic agency, we cannot cover the costs of non-married partners.

Will I be placed in a dangerous location?
The safety of staff is CRS’ top priority. Fellows are placed in non-danger pay locations. CRS continuously monitors safety and has a standard protocol for heightened security levels. Because safety and security change over time, you may be asked to relocate if the security levels increase in your country program.

Does CRS help defer student loan payments?
Deferment decisions are made at the discretion of lenders. CRS will provide documentation regarding participation in the program and the stipend amount. Fellows have received deferments in the past.


Employment with CRS

Do I have to be Catholic to advance in my career at CRS?
Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. Our Catholic identity is at the heart of our mission and operations. We welcome as a part of our staff and as partners people of all faiths and secular traditions who share our values and our commitment to serving those in need.

Will fellows have the opportunity to work with CRS after the fellowship?
The program recruits and trains future leaders for our agency. Although the purpose of the program is to retain top performing fellows, employment is not guaranteed.

What is the process for working with CRS after the fellowship?
Fellows assessed as a fit for CRS and ready to successfully assume program manager responsibilities with us are invited to apply for positions with the agency.

How many fellows are offered regular positions each year?
CRS does not guarantee employment to fellows; however every effort is made to find a suitable match for a fellow who performs well. In the past, more than 80% of fellows have found regular employment with CRS after their fellowship.

What is the starting salary after the fellowship?
A starting program manager’s annual salary after completing the fellowship is currently approximately $55,000.

How long do staff members remain in CRS positions?
A career with CRS usually consists of many subsequent international postings over a period of time. Each international posting usually lasts from 2 to 5 years, depending on the position.

What kind of career path can I expect as a CRS employee?
There is no one career path within CRS. Many fellows follow a managerial path of Program Manager I, Program Manager II, Head of Programs, and Country Representative. However, some fellows seek technical advisory positions such as Regional Technical Advisor for a particular sector. Often, technical positions require qualifications beyond what is required for the fellowship. Occasionally graduating fellows move into positions at CRS headquarters in Baltimore; however, this is not typical.


Find out more about the IDFP recruitment & application process

Photo credit: Aaron Banas


Fellow experiences

Find out more about our fellows & their experiences in the field.


Beyond the fellowship

Beyond the fellowship.


More Fellowship Information

Find out more about the fellowship here.

Photo credit: Carolyn Edlebeck


CRS is an equal opportunity employer. CRS' talent acquisition procedures reflect our commitment to protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse and exploitation.

Note: Catholic Relief Services never asks for passport information or other personal data over the internet. CRS does not charge application fees or processing fees to potential applicants. If you receive e-mail communications that appear to be from CRS asking for personal data over the internet or payments to process an application, it is a scam. If you get such a request, do not respond. Please forward the e-mail to CRS at [email protected].