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Selection as a White House Fellow is based on a combination of the following criteria:
- A record of remarkable professional achievement early in one’s career.
- Evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth.
- A demonstrated commitment to public service.
- The skills to succeed at the highest levels of the Federal government, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team.
All these qualities combined with the strength of one’s character, a positive attitude, and the ability to work well with others are taken into consideration when selecting a class of White House Fellows.
The selection process is very competitive. The White House Fellows Program office processes the applications and former Fellows screen the applications to identify the most promising candidates. Approximately 100 of the most qualified applicants are selected to be Regional Finalists and are interviewed by eight to ten regional panels, which are composed of prominent local citizens.
Regional Finalists are expected to participate in an evening and one day of interviews that determine the selection of the National Finalists. Travel arrangements are the responsibility of each Regional Finalist. The interviews are scheduled during the Spring with 10 – 13 finalists participating in each panel. Interviews are conducted by panels of distinguished citizens from the region where each panel is held. Based on the results of their interviews, the regional panels select approximately thirty candidates to proceed as National Finalists.
All National Finalists are required to undergo comprehensive background investigations to ensure that they qualify for the security clearance necessary for their fellowship work assignments. National Finalists participate in “Selection Weekend,” which is three evenings and two days of interviews with members of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The Commission provides lodging and travel. During Selection Weekend, the Commissioners interview finalists at a location near Washington, D.C. After spending Selection Weekend interviewing, interacting with, and observing the National Finalists, the Commissioners recommend those individuals (between 11 and 19) it finds most qualified for the fellowship to the President for appointment as White House Fellows.
- Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
- Employees of the Federal government are not eligible unless they are career military personnel.
- Applicants must have completed their undergraduate education by the time they begin the application process.
The Commission awards Fellowships on a strictly non-partisan basis, and encourages balance and diversity in all aspects of the program.
Calendar and Procedures
Live Application Period
The application is open each year from November to early January. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that their application has been submitted in its entirety.
Regional Finalist Selection
Applicants are notified in March if they have been selected as Regional Finalists. If selected, they will be notified of the time and location for regional interviews. Panel interviews are conducted during the Spring. Regional Finalists must keep a flexible schedule until panel assignments are announced. It is not likely that the assignment can be changed. Regional Finalists must submit extensive security background investigation forms upon notification of their selection.
National Finalists Notification
National Finalists selected from the regional interviews are notified at the beginning of May. All National Finalists undergo background investigations before proceeding with the selection process.
National Finalists are interviewed over a two-and-a-half day period by the members of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The Commission then recommends a class of Fellows to the President. Lodging and airfare in the United States are paid by the Commission.
The White House Fellows Program office notifies the candidates appointed by the President as White House Fellows.
Fellows interview with principals in government agencies during Placement Week which generally occurs in the middle of July. The principals and Fellows indicate their desired preferences to the Program Director. The Director determines the placement of each Fellow in a work assignment. Lodging and airfare in the United States are paid by the Commission.
Late August to Late August
Inclusive dates of the Fellowship year.