CSPC Presidential Fellows Program

About the CSPC Presidential Fellows Program
Basic Eligibility and Selection Criteria
Campus Selection Process
Application Components
Application Timeline
USC Recipients
AHF Advising


About the CSPC Presidential Fellows Program

The CSPC Presidential Fellows year-long program is offered to undergraduate and graduate students from both American and international universities. They are given the opportunity to study the U.S. Presidency, the public policymaking process, and our Chief Executive’s relations with Congress, allies, the media, and the American public. Working closely with those within the Federal government, academia, and the private sector, the Program has given students the unique opportunity to craft innovative solutions to today’s most crucial political issues and to explore careers in public service.

Under the guidance of CSPC, the Fellows are selected by their colleges and universities. The Fellows participate in three-day leadership conferences in Washington, D.C. during the Fall and Spring semesters (mid/end of October and March).  Each Fellow must produce a 10-15 page research paper on a subject with direct relevance to the U.S. Presidency and/or the Congress.  Fellows are encouraged to draw upon and incorporate independent study or thesis work that is being undertaken by them in the academic year. Fellows will also be required to complete an op-ed and a policy memo over the course of the Fellowship year that is eligible for publication and awards. While attending the conferences, the Fellows participate in workshops where they present and receive constructive criticism on their research papers. The Fellows also have the opportunity to engage with policy experts, government officials, and leaders in the legislative process.

All costs pertaining to the conferences in Washington, DC are covered by the CSPC Presidential Fellows Program. Travel costs will be reimbursed by AHF after each conference.


Basic Eligibility

  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.5
  • Applicants may be U.S. or non-U.S. citizens
  • Enrolled as a full-time USC student for 2019-2020 academic year
  • Most Fellows are in the final year of undergraduate studies, but graduate students and advanced underclassmen are also welcome to apply
  • All academic majors are eligible. Typically, Fellows major or minor in one of the following disciplines: political science, history, international affairs, business, philosophy, economics, public health, or journalism.

Selection Criteria

  • Demonstrated plan to pursue a research project with direct relevance to the U.S. Presidency and/or the Congress for the 2019-2020 academic year with the support of a faculty mentor (such as an independent project or senior thesis)
  • Desire to make public service a part of career plan
  • Comfortable speaking, presenting, and writing specifically about the American Presidency or Congress
  • Open to constructive criticism and willing to engage with a mentor
  • Able to attend both conferences
  • Excellent time management skills

Campus Selection Process

USC may nominate one candidate each year.  Students seeking USC nomination must submit all application components by the campus nomination deadline. 

CSPC Nomination Application


Application Components

  • Biographical Information
  • Short answer: How does the CSPC Fellows Program fit into your long-term professional goals related to public service? (200 words max)
  • Research Proposal (500 words max) Describe a research project that you will undertake in the 2019-2020 academic year with direct relevance to the U.S. Presidency and/or the Congress. Please include how you will be supported by a faculty mentor.  Most topics fit into one of four categories: 1) Foreign policy, 2) Domestic policy, 3) Economics & Finance, or 4) Campaigns, Communications, and Elections.  If a topic lies outside of these categories, it should still be linked back to the presidency or congress in some way.
  • Current resume
  • Grade report from USC (and previous institution for transfers)
  • One letter of recommendation that addresses your research project and how the recommender can support you throughout the academic year.  Letters should be sent to Katie Capra at kcalvert@usc.edu by August 11

Application Timeline

  • Mid-June: Application opens
  • August 11, 2019: Campus Nomination Application Deadline

USC Recipients

2018-2019: Alexander Melnik
2017-2018: Jaime Kwong
Awarded the David M. Abshire Award for Most Outstanding Paper by an International Fellow for “Cold War and Post-Cold War Rogues: U.S. Foreign Policy Responses to China’s and North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programs”


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