Fellows Life at Harvard University

Components of the Fellowship

Leading an eight-week study group
All Fellows must develop an eight-week “study group” that engages students in a current political issue area. Each study group session is 75 minutes long and is usually opened by the Fellow providing an overview/presentation of the session’s theme. The remainder of the study group is reserved for discussion and Q&A with study group attendees. Roughly four study group sessions during the semester should feature guests, and Fellows are responsible for inviting guests appropriate for their subject area.

Mentoring undergraduate students
All Fellows are assigned a team of six undergraduate student “liaisons” for the semester, who help the Fellow organize and publicize their study group. Students volunteer as liaisons because they are passionate about the Fellow’s experience or study group topic, and hope that their Fellow can serve as their mentor. Excellent Fellows prioritize time with their liaison team, inviting them to their residence for meals, organizing outings, and taking time to get to know each student personally and helping them toward their academic and professional goals.

Holding office hours
All Fellows are expected to conduct at least four hours of “office hours” each week, during which undergraduate and graduate students across the Harvard community sign up to have a short conversation with the Fellow about their experience, study group topic, career advice, etc.

Connecting with the Harvard community
Fellows have extensive opportunity to immerse themselves in the Harvard University community, from auditing classes to attending student group meetings. While each Fellow decides how involved they will be on campus, Fellows are expected to attend certain IOP-facilitated events to broaden the influence of their Fellowship. These events could include dinners at undergraduate residential “Houses” (dorms), events at the IOP’s JFK Jr. Forum, and more.

Logistical Details

Time commitment
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.

Stipend and benefits
Fellows are awarded a modest stipend; for more information, please contact Cassidy Bissell, Fellows and Study Groups Coordinator. In addition, Fellows are considered Harvard employees during their appointment, and are thus eligible to receive benefits through the University (with the exception of dental insurance).

Living arrangements
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.

Professional considerations
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.

Why Be A Fellow?

Interact with some of the brightest students in the world
Undergraduates from Harvard College and graduate students from the Harvard Kennedy School enthusiastically participate in Fellows’ events, from study groups to informal conversations and meetings in office hours. Students are passionate and optimistic about their future in politics and the future of the United States and the world, and many Fellows share that they are invigorated by their interactions with the leaders of tomorrow while at the Institute of Politics. As a Fellow, you will have the chance not only to impart your experience and wisdom upon these students, but perhaps learn something from them as well.

Connect with Harvard faculty and administrators
Fellows have access to a wide range of Harvard resources, including faculty at any of Harvard’s campuses, administrators at a wide variety of campus offices, and other Fellows across the Kennedy School and University. Those seeking intellectual engagement with the vibrant academic community at one of the world’s best universities will not be disappointed by the opportunities available for scholarship during their time at the Institute of Politics.

Get to know other diverse political practitioners
Those who walk the halls of the IOP and the Kennedy School each semester include some of the country’s most prominent politicians, activists, and public servants. As a Fellow, you will not only become a member of this illustrious group, but also get the chance to interact with other incredible individuals who shape our country’s and the world’s politics. Previous Fellows have taken full advantage of the opportunity to get to know not only their fellow Fellows, but also guests who speak in the JFK Jr. Forum and other events at the IOP and beyond.

Take time away from a busy career to reflect on your journey in politics and public service
When departing from campus at the end of their Fellowship, many Fellows share that they deeply appreciated time spent stepping back from a hectic career and reflecting on their own political journeys and the issues of the day. Whether through writing a memoir or sharing past experiences in a study group, Fellows appreciate the opportunity to look at the political world from a more objective outsider’s position and gain inspiration for further steps in their career after the IOP.