Catholic Relief Services

International Development Fellows Program

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. Each year, CRS places approximately 20–30 fellows in our country programs. Assignments, of approximately 10 months, start in late 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.


  • Graduate degree in a field relevant to international development
  • Professional proficiency in French (preferred), Spanish or Arabic
  • At least 12 months overseas work or volunteer experience in a developing country
  • Strong cross-cultural skills, with the ability to adapt to the local culture
  • Ability to operate effectively in a stressful, fast-changing environment with potential security risks
  • Fluency in English, with strong analytical, oral and written communication skills
  • Interest in a career in development or emergency relief with CRS
  • Commitment to CRS principles
  • Desire to work for a faith-based organization
  • CRS provides the following benefits to fellows:

  • Annual stipend of $25,622
  • Cost-of-living adjustment
  • Furnished housing
  • Transportation to and from the country of assignment
  • Medical evacuation insurance
  • Medical, dental, life, travel, accident, and personal and household effects insurance
  • Basic life insurance
  • Paid vacation, sick and personal leave, and 12 paid holidays
  • Language assistance
  • CRS fellow Rafael Merchan, second from right, in Malawi

    Photo Credit: Rafael Merchan

    The International Development Fellows Program

    How many fellows do you select each year?

    CRS accepts approximately 20 to 30 fellows. We expect to select 25 fellows for August 2016.

    How many applications do you receive?

    In the past 3 years, CRS has received 335 to 753 applications per year.

    When will I know if I am accepted?

    Approximately 125 candidates will be selected for phone interviews from October through mid-January. Of these, 50 to 60 will be chosen for a full day of interviews in late February/early March. Interview invitations will be extended by early February. We will make offers for the fellowship in late April.

    How much is the stipend?

    For 2015, the stipend is $25,622. 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 2014‒2015.

    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. You will have electricity, running water and security services, if necessary, but not unlimited cable TV. Working in poor and vulnerable communities, CRS fellows do not have the same standard of living as other CRS employees.

    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.

    Fellows and spouses at The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem's Old City.

    Photo Credit: Maggie Holmesheoran

    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 is around $47,000.

    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?

    While there is no one career path, fellows typically choose a career path based overseas. Many fellows follow a managerial path of Program Manager I, Program Manager II, Head of Programs, and Country Representative. Alternatively, fellows may 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. Periodically, there are openings available at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, but this is not a typical career progression.

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    Application for August 2016 deployment

    The IDFP application is open. Since we accept applications on a rolling basis, there is no set deadline, but priority consideration will be given to applications received by December 1, 2015

    Click the button below to apply.

    Please note that the dates below are approximate.

    Early August: IDFP application opens
    Oct 2015: Phone screening begins
    Nov 2015: Language testing begins
    Feb to March 2016: Baltimore interviews
    April 2016: Successful candidates are notified
    Late August 2016: Orientation and deployment overseas


    Fellow experiences

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



    More Fellowship Information

    Find out more about the fellowship here.