ESAL Playbook: Apply for a Local Policy Fellowship


  • Provide expertise and in-person guidance directly to policymakers on important local issues, often as a member of their staff or a legislative body.
  • Make a substantial commitment to engagement. Most state-level fellowships are for Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers, run for one year, and require a move to the state capitol.

Ideal Outcomes

  • Substantive impact on policy decisions at the local level

Auxiliary Benefits

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the local policymaking process
  • Build a network of policy professionals as peers within the fellowship
  • Learn to establish and maintain relationships with representatives

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Identify which fellowship you’re interested in.
  2. Research how the fellowship operates.
    • Four elements are necessary for these fellowships: champions, a non-profit home, a liaison within the state legislature, and funding
    • Funding may come from a regional foundation, there may be a state legislature champion, and state agencies may also contribute depending on the economic times
    • Read our blog post on local fellowships
  3. Apply for the fellowship by the deadlines.
    • As these fellowships are fairly competitive, it will be important to stand out with a compelling personal statement 
    • Research the timing of the fellowship applications, as it will likely take you some time to write the necessary statements and obtain letters of recommendation
    • See our blog post for a few fellowship deadlines
  4. Prepare for the interview.
    • If you are selected for the interview, ask as many former fellows as possible about their experience, and you can also ask them to read your application materials prior to the interview itself
    • Think about why you are interested in this particular fellowship, how it ties in with your long-term goals, and how you will specifically contribute to the policy-making process
  5. Prepare to begin the fellowship.
    • If you are selected as a fellow, congratulations! Prepare with enough time ahead allowing you to move and find your living arrangements, as you will have to move to that particular state.
    • Read orientation materials and prepare the necessary documents to begin your fellowship


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Apply for a Local Policy Fellowship
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Our latest playbook guide aims to help you apply for local science and technology policy fellowships for policies. We share resources to help identify, prepare to apply, and interview for the right fellowship for you.


Resources and Related Items

Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship
1180 E. Broad Street
Oregon Sea Grant Scholars Program
California Council on Science and Technology Policy Fellows
Last Updated: Feb 3, 2020
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