Frequently Asked Questions

How do I submit an application for the fellowship?
The online application can be found here on our website.

How are the Fellows chosen?
Our Fellows are selected through a rigorous and competitive application process that emphasizes genuine passion for mentoring students, an innovative concept for a discussion series (“study group”) to be conducted over the course of one semester, and commitment to being fully present on Harvard’s campus for roughly ten weeks. Applications are reviewed by IOP staff members as well as a dedicated “Fellows Selection Committee” of undergraduate students.

How long is the fellowship? What is the time commitment for the Fellows?
Fellows are expected to be in residence in Cambridge, MA for the duration of the Fellowship, which is one academic semester (ten weeks). Spring Fellows generally arrive on campus during the first week of February and depart in late April; Fall Fellows usually arrive in early September and remain until early December. While occasional travel is completely acceptable, Fellows are expected to spend the majority of their time on campus to work with students. The IOP prioritizes Fellow candidates who can meet this expectation.

What are the requirements of the fellowship?

1. Attend Fellowship orientation and the IOP Open House. All Resident Fellows are expected to participate in a mandatory orientation to review logistical and programmatic details, as well as get to know IOP staff and student leaders. The orientation period will include the IOP Open House, where undergraduates can meet the class of Fellows and be formally introduced to their backgrounds and upcoming study groups.

2. Organize and lead weekly Study Groups. Study groups are the core of the Fellows and Study Groups program. Each Fellow will lead a weekly, 75-minute discussion for eight weeks on a theme of his/her choice. The discussions are open to the public, closed to press and not for attribution. They are designed to engage students in discussions on a topic related to the mission of the IOP and the Fellow’s prior experience. Fellows are expected to bring several guests, typically between four and six, to their study groups throughout the semester to enhance the discussion. Guests’ domestic travel and one-night hotel accommodations are covered by the IOP.

3. Conduct weekly office hours. Fellows are required to hold four hours of office hours per week, in which students sign up to visit the Fellow's office and interact one-on-one. Ideally, office hours are split up over two days. Fellows are welcome to hold more than four hours of office hours if they wish.

4. Oversee (and mentor) six undergraduate student liaisons. Each Fellow will be assigned a team of six student liaisons for the semester. Liaison teams assist Fellows throughout the entire semester and are responsible for preparing for the weekly study group, recruiting students to attend study groups and other events, and increasing Fellows' exposure and involvement across campus. Fellows are expected to meet at least weekly with their liaison team and serve as mentors during their semester at Harvard, and ideally beyond. Most successful Fellows form deep relationships with their liaison team and enjoy weekly activities with them, ranging from meals in undergraduate Houses (dorms) to sporting events, theatre productions, and weekend field trips around New England.

5. Attend the IOP Senior Advisory Committee Meeting. The Institute’s Senior Advisory Committee meets once per semester, and Fellows are expected to be in attendance to share and reflect on their IOP Fellowship experience.

6. Attend the Fellows’ Farewell. Fellows are expected to join an end-of-semester farewell event, where student liaisons and leadership, staff, and fellow residential Fellows celebrate the end of a successful semester.

7. Participate in IOP programming. The Institute hosts numerous events throughout the semester, from Forums to Pizza and Politics. Fellows typically headline at least one additional event per semester outside of their study group, whether as featured speakers, moderators, or other contributors. We also welcome Fellows' suggestions on speakers and can assist to bring those guests to campus for events outside of study groups.

8. Be available to the rest of the Harvard community. Fellows are always in high demand from other programs and student groups across campus, including requests from professors to be guest speakers in their classes and requests from student groups to speak at organization meetings. While accepting these requests is entirely at each Fellow’s discretion, we do hope Fellows will become a resource for the entire community.

9. Serve as an ambassador for the IOP. Ideally, Fellows will actively promote the Institute not just on campus, but in the rest of their activities. Fellows can serve as some of the most persuasive ambassadors in our efforts to lead the nation in engaging undergraduates in politics and public service.

Is housing provided?
Fellows are provided with a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Cambridge (about a ten-minute walk from the IOP) for the duration of their Fellowship. The apartments are fully furnished and ready for move-in. Fellows are invited to bring their spouses/partners and children to Cambridge during their stay, and all are invited to attend IOP events at their leisure. Each apartment also contains an office space for the Fellow if they need to work from their residence.

What is the stipend?
Fellows are awarded a modest stipend; for more information, please contact Abbie James, Fellows and Study Groups Coordinator.

Do the Fellows receive a benefits package from the University?
Fellows are considered Harvard employees during their appointment and are thus eligible to receive benefits through the University (with the exception of dental insurance).

Are the Fellows provided an office?
Fellows are provided with a private office at the IOP, which includes a phone and computer. The Kennedy School also has a full media studio where many Fellows perform their television hits remotely during their Fellowship. In general, Fellows are welcome to pursue personal or professional projects during their Fellowship (such as writing a book, continuing some involvement in a career, etc.), but must be primarily committed to their role as a Fellow and prepared to devote a majority of their time each week working with students.

May Fellows audit classes at Harvard?
Yes, many Fellows audit courses across Harvard’s many schools during their time on campus. Instructions for selecting and auditing courses will be shared with Fellows during their first week on campus.

Do Fellows invite guests to study groups?
Roughly four of the eight study groups should incorporate a visit from a guest. The IOP covers travel and accommodations for study group guests, and the Fellow is given license to select and invite their own guests according to their sub-themes of specific weeks’ study groups. Note that guests can video conference into study groups without having to travel to Boston, which Fellows should keep in mind when formulating their guest lists.