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
CRS hires one class of Fellows each year. CRS accepts online applications in the Fall (the specific dates each year are available on the IDFP page). The selection process concludes in the Spring and each annual class starts in August.
The cover letter is a required piece of the IDFP application. 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.
You may include other information in your cover letter if desired, but it is not required. Your response should be no longer than 500 words. You may address the cover letter to the “IDFP Selection Committee.”
The number of Fellows hired varies from year to year, as it is subject to agency needs. Typically, CRS hires 12-15 Fellows a year.
CRS typically extends fellowship offers to successful candidates in the Spring. The selection process is comprised of several steps and generally runs from December - March. During this time, strong candidates complete a video interview, language assessment and interview. All steps in the selection process are completed virtually.
Yes. CRS covers the cost of language testing.
Yes. Individuals from all countries are eligible for the Fellowship and CRS hires Fellows from around the world each year. Candidates do not need U.S. citizenship or work authorization. All successful candidates must meet the IDFP program requirements, including fluency in English with strong oral and written communication skills.
Graduate degrees must be Master level or higher. We welcome degrees in all fields that are relevant to international relief and development (e.g. international development, non-profit management, public health, agriculture, foreign service). We accept degrees from universities worldwide. Candidates may apply while they are completing their graduate degree if the degree will be conferred by August of 2024.
Yes. Fellows are based in locations around the world with tropical and infectious diseases and limited access to medical facilities. CRS requires medical clearance to ensure Fellows (and their dependents) are able to receive the care and support they need in their country of assignment. Fellows must complete a pre-deployment medical screening process for their country of assignment. This confidential process is managed by an external partner and the cost is covered by CRS. The Fellowship offer is contingent upon successful medical clearance. Only candidates who receive an offer will be asked to complete the medical clearance process.
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 depend 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.
As a Fellow, you will support CRS programming in a variety of sectors while you build skills in program management, project design and proposal development, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning, and operations. While completing the learning objectives of the program, Fellows often support projects in Health/Nutrition, Agriculture/Livelihoods, Youth, Peacebuilding and/or Emergency Response. However, Fellows do not choose the sectors that they support since exposure to specific areas of programming is not an objective of the Fellowship. If working in a specific sector is of critical importance to you, please consider other openings with CRS.
Under the supervision of a senior staff member, the Fellow will support programming and operations in the following areas:
- Support implementation of current projects (activity planning with CRS staff and partners, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) activities, etc.).
- Support timely and accurate reporting and learning (write/edit reports in collaboration with CRS staff and partners, document lessons learned, etc.).
- Support effective management of cash and in-kind resources (budget analysis, cash forecasting, financial reporting, commodity management, etc.).
- Serve as acting project manager, as appropriate.
Project Design and Proposal Development
- Support research & analysis to inform new project design (data collection/assessments, problem identification, stakeholder analysis, gender analysis, gap analysis, development of theory of change, results framework, etc.).
- Work with CRS staff and partners to develop proposals (design workshops, technical and cost applications, packaging/editing, etc.).
Partnership and Capacity Sharing
- Work for CRS partners by supporting activity planning & implementation, project design, proposal development, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning.
- Support partnership strengthening and capacity sharing (partnership reflection workshops, learning events, etc.).
- Support procurement by participating in bid analysis and vendor selection, contracting, receipt and warehousing of goods.
- Support staff recruitment by drafting job descriptions, reviewing applications, participating in interview panels.
- Support supply chain management by reviewing systems for delivery, storage and distribution of goods, assisting with inventory counts, data collection, analysis & verification.
- Support strong financial management by analyzing budgets/spending, reviewing supporting documentation for financial transactions, etc.
- Support risk management and compliance by reviewing internal controls, systems for fraud prevention, CRS & donor guidelines, etc.
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, and security services (if necessary). CRS does not provide TV and cable subscriptions.
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. Staff may grow in managerial or technical areas, based in countries where we serve or teleworking from global locations. Over the course of their career, CRS staff tend to move between leading and supporting roles as they use their skills and knowledge to benefit those in need around the world. Please see the Prepare for Future Career Opportunities section for examples of positions and career paths that former Fellows have taken.
No. 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.
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.
The annual salary is approximately $34,000 and is paid in semi-monthly installments. As salaried employees, Fellows enjoy comprehensive benefits. Fellows also receive allowances for relocation and may be eligible for cost-of-living allowance and/or Rest and Relaxation (depending on the country of assignment). Fellows contribute to their housing and health insurance premiums as international assignees.
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.
If you have a question that is not answered in the FAQ above, please attend an information session or email us at [email protected].