Graduate Fellowships

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

We provide grants to exceptional graduate-level scholars who have an interest in serving the nation through public service or in policy-relevant fields.  The Graduate Fellowship Program provides financial support to students pursuing graduate and post-doctoral studies, as well as encourages their network of talented young professionals.

Fellowship Program

Some of the country’s most respected scholars in fields from economics to international relations help us to identify candidates of outstanding intellectual ability, integrity, moral character and leadership potential who will benefit from financial assistance. 24 professors currently serve as Advisers for our Program.

The Fellowship Program provides grants for M.A. and Ph.D. candidates, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students pursuing public service-related internships. Fellowships are awarded to U.S. citizens through nominations by our confidential Advisers at universities across the country. Students may not directly apply for the Fellowship Program; they must be nominated. The Foundation does not accept outside applications.


The Program's current and former Fellows form an impressive collection of rising leaders active in significant posts and organizations at home and abroad that play important roles in shaping U.S. domestic and foreign policy. We support this growing network of scholars and practitioners and offer year-round events for their engagement and connectivity. These events include speaker series, weekend retreats, receptions and annual conferences.


2019 Graduate Fellowship Conference

Theme: Perspectives on Service- Leadership and Citizen Engagement

Sept 19-20, 2019 - Washington, D.C.

Fellowship by the Numbers



All of Donald Rumsfeld's
profits from the sales of his book,
When the Center Held,
will go to the Graduate Fellowship Program.


  • “There is no way I would be where I am today without the Rumsfeld Foundation’s support and I know that the Fellowship will ultimately allow me to serve the public and enrich myself in ways that I could never have hoped for otherwise.”
    Georgetown University Fellow
  • “The Graduate Fellowship Program provides a singular opportunity by bringing together students and young professionals inclined to public service. It has been incredible to meet and exchange ideas with others pursuing such a variety of callings in the public and private sectors. It has been a privilege to be a part of the community of Fellows. As it grows, many of our careers will likely intersect.”
    Institute of World Politics Fellow
  • “I’m very encouraged by each and every Rumsfeld Foundation event.”
    University of Texas-Austin Fellow
  • “I greatly appreciate being selected and am wholeheartedly thankful for this opportunity. Coming from rural Northwestern Wisconsin, I dreamed of coming to D.C. to study and work for the federal government. This award is helping me make that dream a reality.”
    Missouri State University Fellow
  • “One of the most important effects of the conference, to me, was a sense that we are not alone in our work and that there are other, like-minded people who are dedicating themselves to the same tasks of preserving those things which have made America a great nation.”
    Villanova University Fellow
  • “I found the Graduate Fellowship Conference to be an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable opportunity to engage with your Advisers and the other Fellows, and I am delighted to say that I developed a number of meaningful connections in the process. The theme of the conference and the topics of discussion served as a timely reminder of our responsibility to participate in the shaping of our country’s future, and of the nobleness of public service.”
    Missouri State University Fellow