Catholic Relief Services’ International Development Fellows Program prepares dedicated global citizens to pursue a career in international relief & development work. CRS empowers Fellows to hone their skills and gain practical field experience while contributing to impactful work. Each Fellow works alongside experienced CRS staff to address critical issues facing developing countries today.
Please review the IDFP FAQ for more information. Click [+] to display each answer.
Application and Selection Process
In your cover letter, please respond to the prompt below:
Share an example(s) of a time when you supported or promoted greater diversity, equity and/or inclusion in a previous job, volunteer position or academic setting.
Your cover letter should be no more than one page in length. You may address the cover letter to the “IDFP Selection Committee.”
This is a standard question on all CRS applications, but not relevant for Fellows since the country of assignment is not known at the time of application. You may answer “yes” or “no.” Your response will not affect the review of your application.
With this application, CRS will hire several Fellows. Each Fellow will be based in a different country around the world. We must include a primary location for each advertised position, and have listed “West Africa” as a placeholder. You may be offered a location in West Africa for the Fellowship or in another region where CRS works. This application is for Global placements with CRS, not West Africa specifically. Please see more information on Overseas Assignments below.
The number of Fellows varies from year to year, as it is subject to agency needs. Typically, CRS hires 18- 20 fellows a year.
The selection process is comprised of several steps and runs from November to February each year. The online application closes on November 1st. In November and December, strong candidates begin advancing through the different steps of the selection process. This includes a video interview and foreign language test (and may be subject to change). In January, the top 30-35 candidates will be invited to the final interview, which usually takes place at CRS Headquarters in Baltimore. However, virtual options will be available if the CRS office is operating on a remote basis. CRS will extend fellowship offers to successful candidates in February or March.
In-person interviews are required for all applicants unless the CRS office is operating on a remote basis due to COVID-19.
Yes. CRS covers the cost of testing and travel for candidates as required for the selection process. This includes the video interview, foreign language test and travel to Baltimore for the in-person interview. For the Baltimore interview, CRS will cover the flight, hotel and visa. International candidates are responsible for securing their own visa; CRS is not able to facilitate this process.
Yes. Individuals from all countries are eligible for this opportunity. You do not need to be an American citizen or permanent resident. However, all successful candidates must be fluent in English with strong oral and written communication skills.
We accept graduate degrees in all fields that are relevant to international relief and development (e.g. international development, non-profit management, public health, agriculture, foreign service, social work). Degrees must be Master level or higher. We accept degrees from universities worldwide. Candidates may apply while they are completing their graduate degree, if the degree will be conferred by July of 2021.
Overseas Assignments and Travel
The CRS country programs that host Fellows change from year to year. We prioritize country programs that offer the best learning opportunities for the Fellows (strong supervision, work assignments that align with fellowship learning objectives, etc). We place Fellows in all regions where we work, with the greatest number of positions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many countries that have hosted Fellows in recent years are highlighted on the map shown under Engage in Impactful Work.
CRS’ top priority is staff safety. Fellows are not placed in high-security locations. CRS continuously monitors safety and has a standard protocol for heightened security levels. Fellows will be relocated to another country if the security level changes in their original location.
Yes. If desired, Fellows can travel to higher-level security settings to complete temporary duty assignments (TDYs) during the Fellowship. All CRS staff, including Fellows, must complete rigorous training on personal safety and security before travelling to higher-level security locations. Fellows often complete 3-6 week TDYs in emergency settings. These opportunities are not guaranteed or required, but highly recommended.
All Fellows travel to project sites in their country of assignment. These trips may range from a few days to a week or more in the field. The length and frequency of travel depends on the nature of the Fellow’s work. As a Fellow, you will spend most of your time working from the CRS office (usually located in the capital or another large city/town). Most Fellows complete one temporary duty assignment (TDY) during their Fellowship. TDYs are usually around 3-6 weeks and take place in another country. TDYs are determined based on agency need and the skills/interests of the Fellow.
While consideration is given to Fellow’s language skills and interests, CRS determines overseas assignments by matching Fellows with country programs that offer the best learning opportunity (strong supervision, work assignments that align with fellowship learning objectives, etc). Willingness to work in various regions and developing countries around the world is a requirement for the fellowship. If regional placement is of critical importance to you, we encourage you to consider other openings with CRS where the location is known.
CRS sees the fellowship as an opportunity to recruit individuals who can grow into senior management positions such as Head of Programming, Head of Operations, and Country Representative. With this objective, less focus is placed on developing a sectoral expertise and more focus is placed on developing strong managerial skills. As a Fellow, you will support a variety of programs and in-so-doing gain basic knowledge of some programming areas. If working in a specific sector is of critical importance to you, we encourage you to consider other openings with CRS.
Housing and Family
CRS provides basic furnished housing for each Fellow, which is usually an apartment or house near the CRS office or near the homes of other CRS staff. The Fellow’s house will have electricity, running water, internet (as available) and security services (if necessary). CRS does not provide TV.
Yes. Fellows are placed in accompanied posts so that they can travel with their spouse and children.
Yes. Although CRS does not guarantee onward employment, Fellows are competitive candidates for onward positions with the Agency. Fellows who perform well are invited to apply for openings and supported in finding a suitable position. Fellows who are open to a variety of positions, geographic locations and settings (emergency & development contexts) usually find onward positions with CRS.
There are many career paths within CRS. Many former Fellows are in managerial roles overseas (Program Managers, Heads of Programs, Country Representatives, Technical Advisors, etc). Please see the Prepare for Future Career Opportunities section for examples of positions and career paths that former Fellows have taken.
CRS 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.
International posting generally average 2 to 5 years, depending on the position. A career with CRS usually consists of many subsequent international postings.
At CRS, you will find extensive learning resources and opportunities for professional development and career growth. With coaching from experienced supervisors, staff are empowered to develop career and learning goals. To support staff development, CRS provides a variety of learning resources from leading content providers, managerial and leadership courses, and tuition assistance for those pursuing advanced degrees. Staff can also learn through internal trainings and short-term assignments. For language acquisition, CRS provides online training for core languages (e.g. French, Spanish) after six months of service.
The stipend is approximately $30,000 (paid in semi-monthly installments). Fellows pay their portion of health insurance premiums and contribute to housing like other CRS employees. Depending on the country assignment, Fellows may receive a cost-of-living allowance.
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.