Graduate Fellowships

“Our democracy will be sustained by America's bright, young leaders committed to public service and public policy.” - Donald Rumsfeld

We provide financial assistance to exceptional graduate-level scholars selected for their demonstrated leadership and moral character who aspire to careers in public service. The Fellowship aims to encourage these rising leaders in their dedication to serving our nation and provides year-round programming designed to connect the members of its talented alumni network and support them in their professional journeys. 

Fellowship Program

Our program is made possible by the involvement of a select group of talented professors across the nation who serve as our program’s Advisers. Each year our Advisers hand select exceptional U.S. graduate students to nominate for our Fellowship who exhibit outstanding intellectual ability, integrity, moral character and leadership potential.  Above all, nominees must have demonstrated a desire to serve the nation and an interest in engaging with a community of like-minded leaders. From these annual nominations, the Foundation’s leadership selects top contenders to receive a stipend in support of their Master's or Ph.D. studies or postdoctoral research.

Students may not directly apply for the Fellowship Program; they must be nominated.  The Foundation does not accept outside applications.


The Program's current Fellows and alumni form an impressive collection of rising leaders active in important public service posts at home and abroad, from intelligence analysts to university professors and beyond. We support this growing network of scholars and practitioners and provide year-round communications and events to encourage their engagement and connectivity. These events include speaker series, weekend retreats, receptions and annual conferences.


2023 Graduate Fellowship Conference

11th Annual Conference

Sept 21-22, 2023

Fellowship by the Numbers



Profits from the sales of Donald Rumsfeld’s book,
When the Center Held,
continue to go to the Graduate Fellowship Program.


  • “I have already been strengthened and encouraged to see so many who have completed their educations to advance to meaningful careers, and I look forward to seeing how this network continues to work in support of each other.”
    University of Dallas Fellow
  • “In my initial letter to the Foundation, I wrote that I would like to continue public service through teaching after graduate school. My time as a Rumsfeld Fellow only confirmed that this is the career path I would like to take.”
    Hillsdale College Fellow
  • “Thank you so much for the Graduate Fellowship and for including me in this phenomenal network. This Fellowship has already proven incredibly valuable to me- far beyond the financial security I have to pursue my career dreams in D.C.”
    Syracuse University Fellow
  • “Thank you for all that the Rumsfeld network has done to facilitate completion of my doctoral degree. I'm truly grateful for the support, which made a world of difference and your network has already put me into contact with many terrific people.”
    George Mason University Fellow
  • “This Network has been vital part to my Ph.D. and far and away been the most important part of that.”
    Indiana University Fellow
  • “The Rumsfeld Fellowship has helped me reach higher and wider than I ever thought I would. I am humbled to have such a network of supportive and caring people in my corner. I look forward to joining the distinguished ranks of Rumsfeld Alumni and continue to bring praise and recognition through my accomplishments to the Rumsfeld Foundation Fellowship.”
    Syracuse University Fellow