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Vassar College

The Thomas J. Wat­son Fel­low­ship is a one-year grant for pur­pose­ful, inde­pen­dent explo­ration out­side the Unit­ed States, award­ed to grad­u­at­ing seniors nom­i­nat­ed by one of 41 part­ner insti­tu­tions.

The Watson Fellowship is a rare window after college and pre-career to engage your deepest interest on a global scale. Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States for one year and embrace the ensuing journey. They decide where to go, who to meet and when to change course. They do not affiliate with academic institutions and may not hold formal employment.

The program produces a year of personal insight, perspective and confidence that shapes the arc of fellows' lives. Started in 1968, Watson Fellows comprise leaders in every field. The one year stipend is $40,000. In addition, the foundation provides health insurance and other benefits.  

The mission of the Watson is to offer college graduates of unusual promise a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel outside of the United States in order to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community. Read more about the Person and Project Selection Criteria.

Would you like a chance to interview with a member of the Watson committee? Anyone who submits a draft of their proposal and personal statement by September 1st (one month before the October 1st campus deadline) will get a chance to present their project to a member of the Watson Fellowship committee. The faculty interviewer will review your drafts and provide feedback on them prior to the campus deadline; this person will also have your perspective to present at the meeting where we’ll determine the finalists.

Complete a Preliminary Application by September 1st to take advantage of this added support. A draft for the preliminary application should be an application that is near completion. This means the project proposal should outline the countries you intend to visit and include a general itinerary. 

Watch the Watson Webinar!

CAMPUS DEADLINE: October 1, this includes all letters of recommendation

Next steps

  1. Carefully review all available material on the Watson website, including the webinar and FAQ sections.
  2. Schedule a "Fellowships Advising" appointment on Handshake.
  3. Email to request an account on the Watson Application Portal. 
  4. Contact your referees as soon as possible. Once you create an account and indicate who your referees will be, they will automatically receive an email with instructions and the appropriate form for the letter. View a sample of the form.
  5. Submit an optional Preliminary Application by September 1st.
  6. Submit your final Application through the Watson Portal by the campus deadline of October 1st.
  7. Semi-finalists will be invited to interview with Vassar's Watson Selection Committee.
  8. Up to four (4) finalists will be nominated for an interview with the Watson Foundation.

Important Hints and Warning

You must think about traveling beyond places where you have lived, studied, or traveled before for any significant period of time. Your proposed project must not represent a return to the study abroad experience and/or other location where you have spent time. You cannot travel to any countries that are currently on a  US State Department Level 3 or 4 (or areas within countries listed as “Do Not Travel” and “Reconsider Travel”), on Treasury Embargo, or designated CDC Level 3.

Past Watson Fellows from Vassar

Learn more about Vassar's past Watson Fellows!