CSPC Presidential Fellows Program

About the CSPC Presidential Fellows Program
Selection Criteria
Requirements for Fellows
Campus Deadline
AHF Advising


The CSPC Presidential Fellows Program is hosted by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.  For nearly 50 years, CSPC has drawn on the lessons of history to support policy makers, assist Presidential transitions, and navigate the challenges of today. Working closely with the Federal government, academia, and the private sector, Fellows have the unique opportunity to craft innovative solutions to today’s most crucial political issues.

Since 1970, CSPC’s Fellows have come to Washington, DC, to learn about leadership and governance, to share their outstanding research, and to explore careers in public service.  This 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.  Fellows also work closely with CSPC staff on top policy projects, such as securing the U.S. electrical grid and examining U.S. policy towards Latin America.

The Fellows participate in three-day leadership conferences in Washington, DC during the Fall and Spring semesters, in addition to completing a research paper 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.  In the past Fellows have had the opportunity to meet with speakers such as Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke; Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher Lu; journalists James Kitfiled, Ron Fournier, and Clive Crook; and defense experts Michèle Flournoy, Fronk Cilluffo, and Capt. Eric Jones, USCG.

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.

Selection Criteria

USC may select one candidate each year.

  • Most Fellows are in the final year of undergraduate studies, but graduate students and advanced underclassmen are also welcome
  • 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
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.5
  • Demonstrated interest in an aspect of the American government
  • Comfortable speaking, presenting, and writing specifically about the American Presidency or Congress
  • Open to constructive criticism and willing to engage with a mentor

Requirements for Fellows

  • Each Fellow undertakes an original research project on a subject with direct relevance to the U.S. Presidency and/or the Congress. Each Fellow is responsible for producing a 10-15 page paper due in May. Fellows are encouraged to draw upon and incorporate independent study or thesis work that is being undertaken by them in the academic year.
  • Fellows attend two conferences in Washington, DC, during the course of the Fellowship year. The Fall Conference dates will likely be mid/end of October.  Dates for the Spring Conference have yet to be determined. Presentation honors and paper prizes are eligible only to students attending both conferences.
  • Upon program enrollment, Fellows must meet all deadlines or forfeit their status as a Fellow in good standing
  • Fellows must engage with assigned mentor


  • USC’s CSPC Presidential Fellows Program Application
  • One letter of recommendation that addresses your research project and how recommender can support you throughout the academic year Letters should be sent to Katie Capra at kcalvert@usc.edu
  • Research Proposal (500 words max) Describe a research project that you will undertake in the 2018-2019 academic year (independent study or thesis work) with direct relevance to the U.S. Presidency and/or the Congress. Please include how you will be supported by a faculty mentor.  Topics should fit into one of four categories:
    • Foreign Policy
    • Domestic Policy
    • Economics & Finance
    • Campaigns, Communications, and Elections

Campus Deadline

Sunday, August 12, 2018 by 11:45pm

Congratulations to 2017-2018 CSPC Fellow Jaime Kwong!

The David M. Abshire Award for Most Outstanding Paper by an International Fellow awarded to:


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