Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service

Summer Internships in Government for Undergraduates

The Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program exposes talented undergraduates to government work and its impact through 10-week, full-time, high level internships at the local, state, and federal level.

While not all Fellows will pursue a career in government, the program creates the opportunity for students to become engaged citizens and develop an informed view of government service and operations. Schaeffer Fellows are selected nationally from five universities – Harvard, Princeton, U.C. Berkeley, USC, and UVA.

Eligibility & Selection Criteria

Competitive candidates will have:

  • a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA
  • current sophomore or junior standing. Seniors are eligible to apply only if enrolling in 12+ units of undergraduate degree required courses in fall 2022. Preference will be given to candidates with at least one full academic year of undergraduate study remaining after the fellowship. (Progressive Degree students must not begin master’s-only degree requirements in the fall).
  • relevant experience and/or coursework demonstrating preparation for a demanding government internship. While no prior public service record is required, competitive candidates will be able to demonstrate transferable skills and an interest in public service.

Dates & Deadlines

There are no upcoming events at this time.

A Leave of Absence does not make a student ineligible for the program, however, preference will be given to candidates who are enrolled full-time at USC.

Ideal candidates are mature, detail-oriented, and motivated. Competitive applicants will possess excellent verbal and written communication skills, an ability to prioritize multiple tasks under tight deadlines, and work well with others.

Award Details

How to Apply

How to Apply

Up to 10 Schaeffer Fellows are selected from USC each year to work full-time (35-40 hours per week) for at least 10 weeks (typically mid-May through the first week of August).

All interested applicants should submit a complete online application for consideration for program-secured and/or self-secured internships. More information can be found under “Internships”.

Application Timeline

Summer Application Opens: Late November

Campus Deadline: Late January

Campus Interviews: Rolling process through late March

February – March: Semi-finalists apply directly to internships and/or monitor progress of self-secured hiring process. Academic Honors & Fellowships will communicate final hiring decisions from program-secured internships and make final selections for fellowships (most applicants will have a confirmed status by mid-April).

Mid-April: USC Schaeffer Fellows cohort confirmed (timeline subject to change)

Late May: National summer program commences

Application Requirements

Please prepare to submit the following by the January deadline:

  1. Online Application Form
    • Basic information & explanation of interest in the Schaeffer Fellows program
    • Select specific policy areas of interest and explain
    • Information on self-secured internship(s) (if applicable)
    • Identify home district elected officials of interest
  2. Resume (2 pages max.) including education, work history, public service experience, and/or other relevant skills
  3. Two recommendations (at least one from a USC faculty member) – applicants will invite two referees to complete a recommendation form through the application portal (preview recommendation form here). Recommendations are due by the final deadline.
Program Benefits

Program Benefits

USC Schaeffer Fellows are selected by the University to join a national cohort of 50 Schaeffer Fellows from five universities. The cohort participates in a robust summer program alongside full-time internships focused on understanding public service, networking, and preparing transferable skills for a professional career in any field.

Living Stipends & Accessories

Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows receive a living stipend of $5,500 disbursed 3-4 times during the summer to afford summer living expenses. Federal interns relocating to D.C. may be eligible to receive additional funding.

Fellows have discretion over use of the stipend, which is intended to support relocation costs, housing, and/or some discretionary expenses. Fellows should anticipate some out of pocket expenses. Students with demonstrated financial need may be able to request additional funding by contacting Academic Honors and Fellowships at

Schaeffer Fellows also receive a variety of program accessories from the national program.

Alumni Mentor

Each Schaeffer Fellow is paired with an alumnus of USC and, when possible, of the Schaeffer Fellows program. Mentors meet with the Fellow one-on-one 3-4 times during the summer to reflect on the internship experience and discuss future career goals.

Schaeffer Fellows Summit

The national cohort attends an annual Summit typically in late June in Washington, D.C. to engage in public service leadership lessons and expand on professional development. Summit details subject to change.

Membership in Online Community

All Schaeffer Fellows gain access to a private virtual program hub to network, find event information, and access digital resources. The online platform is open to Schaeffer Fellow alumni, partner university staff, and other professional partners. The national program also provides a Resource Guide with tools to support professional development.

National Program Dates

  • Late April: Schaeffer Fellows National Virtual Orientation
  • Late May: Internships typically commence
  • Mid June: Schaeffer Fellows Summit in Washington, D.C.
  • Early August: Internships typically conclude
  • September-October: Schaeffer Fellows recognition event at USC

Fellows are required to meet all program expectations and attend all events as detailed by USC and the national fellowship program.



In the online application, candidates will be asked to clarify their internship goals. This information will assist the selection committee in determining appropriate next steps for competitive candidates.

Program-Secured Internships Identified by USC

Program-secured internships are identified by Academic Honors & Fellowships through partnerships with a select number of host offices interested in hiring a Schaeffer Fellow. These positions are typically with California elected officials in Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Washington, D.C. and are confirmed on a rolling basis through the spring due to varying hiring timelines.

Internships at the federal agency level or with representatives in other states most often require applying independently (see below).

General Selection Process for Program-Secured Positions

  1. Applicants who have not yet been hired for a self-secured internship may be considered for program-secured jobs. Competitive applicants will be invited to interview with USC faculty and staff to identify best fit.
  2. After the interview, selected semi-finalists will receive individual instructions to:
    • submit additional materials to be considered for one or more USC program-secured internships AND/OR
    • will be instructed to submit an application directly to an internship program with their local, state, or federal representative(s)
  3. Partner offices may opt to conduct a second interview with semi-finalist candidates directly and will make final hiring decisions. Semi-finalists should be prepared to accept the first internship offer received.
  4. Semi-finalists will be notified of final selection decisions for the Schaeffer Fellows program by AHF on a rolling basis through April.

PLEASE NOTE: Schaeffer Fellowships are limited to 10 per year. Students selected for a Schaeffer Fellowship will be notified by Academic Honors and Fellowships. Receiving a recommendation to apply for an internship or an internship offer does not guarantee a Schaeffer Fellowship but is necessary in order to be accepted to the program.

Self-Secured Internships Identified by Applicant

Self-secured internships are internships identified by a candidate for which they have submitted an application or have already been hired on their own (defined by a minimum of “Conditional Offer of Employment”). Candidates pursuing self-secured internships are encouraged apply to be a Schaeffer Fellow and use the space in the application to detail their hiring status.

If invited to interview and recommended by the committee, semi-finalists with a pending or confirmed self-secured internship will receive additional instructions on a case-by-case basis.

Resources for Self-Secured Federal Positions
If interested in internships with federal agencies, committees, and specific representatives, candidates should plan to apply directly based on the office’s hiring timeline. AHF is unable to guarantee specific internships as program-secured opportunities.

These internship programs often have earlier deadlines. Use the resources below for more information:

Security Clearance Process
If a security clearance is required, the internship start date must fall on or before June 1st to allow for completion of 10 weeks before the start of the fall term. Please note: the U.S. State Department clearance process may take as long as 150 days or more (~4-5 months). A pending security clearance does not disqualify a candidate from the Schaeffer Fellows program, however, to be selected for the program candidates must have an active security clearance (if required for the job) and a confirmed internship offer.

Examples of Previous Internships

2021 Program-Secured Internships

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • California Department of Transportation
  • California Attorney General Communications Team

2021 Self-Secured Internships

  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department for International Development (USAID)
  • U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar
  • San Diego Mayor’s Office
  • Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office

View record of national program- and self-secured internships

How to Apply

Submit an Application

Before starting an application, please thoroughly review all of the information on this page.


Questions about the program should be directed to:

Willa Erickson
Office of Academic Programs