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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 2018 deployment

The IDFP application is open. CRS accepts applications on a rolling basis. However, we will prioritize review of applications received by October 13, 2017. Applications received after December 1, 2017 will be considered for the 2019–2020 cycle.

To be considered for the program, please complete the following 3 steps:

  1. Write your cover letter (500 word maximum). The cover letter should include the following:
    1. Why you want to join CRS’ Fellows program, and why you would be a good fit for the program
    2. A relevant experience that demonstrates your understanding of the overseas work environment
  2. Update your resume/CV to highlight relevant experience and qualifications.
  3. Apply to the position here:


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 moving on the next step in the selection process 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 20 to 30 fellows. We expect to select 25 fellows for August 2017.

How many applications do you receive?

In recent years, CRS has received 400 to 800 applications per year.

When will I know if I am accepted?

The selection process includes a video interview, language test and in-person interview. In January, approximately 50 finalists will be invited to the full day in-person interviews that take place in early February. Successful candidates will receive offers in late February or early March.

How can I be more competitive for the fellowship considering that there are so many applicants?

Writing skills are important, as well as strong language skills, especially in French and Arabic. The interviews are also an important opportunity for CRS to get to know you, and your long-term goals. Candidates who can show a clear interest in working with CRS, not just any relief and development organization, will stand out.

How much is the fellowship stipend?

For 2017, the stipend is $27,182. 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 typically support multiple projects and gain exposure to project management and various sectors (agriculture, health, peacebuilding, education, microfinance, or a combination of these). Fellows also do rotations in operations (finance, admin, human resources, logistics, etc). All 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 countries that have hosted fellows in recent years.

I am focused on a particular region and/or sector. How likely is it that I will be placed in that region or have a placement that matches my focus area?

CRS sees the fellowship as an opportunity to recruit individuals who can grow into general manager positions such as country representatives. Because of this purpose, less focus is placed on developing a sectoral expertise and more focus is placed on developing strong managerial skills. Fellowship placements are based on language first, then the experience of fellows and needs of the country programs. CRS is searching for candidates who will be strong managers, regardless of their geographical or sectoral preference. We do not guarantee a sectoral or regional match. If this is important to you above all else, then the International Development Fellowship 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 cable TV or internet.

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.

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.

Would I be qualified for a regular CRS position in the field or do I have to do the fellowship first?

Candidates who have a master’s degree, proficiency in one of our designated languages and over two years of overseas experience, especially experience focused on a particular sector or technical area may be qualified for program manager positions. Please look at our website to view job openings and the qualifications: http://www.crs.org/about/careers. In the past, qualified individuals who did not find an appropriate job opening applied for the Fellowship and used it as a foot in the door.

How many fellows continue as program managers after the fellowship?

CRS does not guarantee employment to fellows. However, every effort is made to find a suitable position for a fellow who performs well. Typically, more than 80% of fellows have found regular employment with CRS after their fellowship.

What is the starting salary after the fellowship?

The starting salary for fellows moving into Program Manager positions is around $55,000.


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].