International Development Fellows Program FAQs

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 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.

  Fellows and spouses at The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem's Old City.  Photo Credit: Maggie Holmesheoran
Fellows and spouses at The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo Credit: Maggie Holmesheoran

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: 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.