Frequently Asked Questions

The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship develops fellows’ personal, professional and cultural potential and expands their comfort zone through reflective and experiential opportunities. Our selection criteria reflect the qualities we seek in Watson Fellows, including:

1. High Standards
Fellows pursue excellence in their performance and communication in all settings including school, work, the JK Fellowship and local and global communities. They demonstrate strong flexibility and follow through.

2. Ambition
Fellows have the drive to pursue expansive personal, professional and cultural experiences. They seek to acquire a depth of knowledge in areas of interest to them.

3. Openness
Fellows welcome new ideas and points of view. They have a desire to share perspectives and curiosity to learn from others with diverse backgrounds. They are open to self-inquiry and advancing their personal frontier.

4. Desire to explore diverse cultures and new professional fields
Fellows are open to experiences that allow them to explore new cultures, professional fields, and a breadth of career paths.

5. Willingness to act on feedback
Fellows are willing and able to incorporate feedback in their performance and interactions.

6. Ability to work in groups
Fellows demonstrate inclusivity as they engage others productively to move an idea or issue forward.

7. Leadership
Fellows have the ability or potential to assess a situation, develop an approach and build a sustainable solution that would not have happened without them. (We understand that candidates for the fellowship are early in their college career and may not have a depth of leadership experience on campus. We define leadership broadly and include all forms including personal, professional, extracurricular and academic.)

8. Integrity & Accountability
Fellows have strong character, take responsibility for themselves including their actions and wellbeing, and have a commitment to positive social change.

9. Strong academic record
There is no GPA minimum for the Watson Fellowship, however fellows should have a solid footing in their academic pursuits.

To be eligible, you must be a second semester freshman or sophomore majoring in a liberal arts discipline and have at least four semesters of full-time academic work remaining after submitting your fellowship application. You must be enrolled and nominated by one of our twelve partner colleges:

  • Brooklyn College
  • Baruch College
  • College of Staten Island
  • Hunter College
  • John Jay College
  • Lehman College
  • LIU Brooklyn
  • Marymount Manhattan College
  • Pace University, Manhattan Campus
  • Queen's College
  • St. Johns University
  • The City College of New York

You must also not be more than 21 years old on the Watson application deadline and be an American citizen or green card holder (not on an international student visa).

Please see the Overview page for complete instructions and links to your Watson Advisor.

Watson Fellows come from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities, and the social and physical sciences. We also welcome students undecided about their major, and those studying mathematics, business and computer science if they have not yet settled on a specific career path. Pre-med and Pre-law students can apply if they are open to experiencing a variety of internships during their fellowship that may be outside the fields of medicine and law.

Because the fellowship's goal is to expand a fellow's vision to new possibilities, we select students from academic fields without a professional track because professional tracks have a prescribed career path. This said, if you are open to having your career path challenged, engage your Watson Advisor in a conversation about the fellowship's fit for you.

If you transfer to a Watson partner college, there is no problem. If you transfer to a non-partner college, remaining a fellow is not possible. If you are thinking of transferring please make that clear to your Watson Advisor during the application process.

Fellows are typically not permitted to take classes or engage in paid employment during their three Watson summer internships. Occasional exceptions may be made if employment will not interfere with Watson internships or other commitments.

Watson Fellows are expected to be fully committed to the Watson Fellowship internship, seminars, cultural program, group projects, etc. during the internship period. Vacation or travel should be taken prior to or after the internship period.

Fellows may self-initiate internships in their second and third Watson summer but not in their first summer. All self-initiated internships must be approved by the Watson staff. Fellows must be interested in exploring internship opportunities in a variety of fields rather than expect to have a succession of internships within a narrow band of professional interest.

The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship is a three year program that provides tremendous opportunities for personal, professional and cultural growth. Fellowship activities are held during the day and occasional evenings, weekdays during the summer, and on some weekend days throughout the year. A calendar of events is provided to fellows each year. To ensure high standards and consistency of programming, participation in all fellowship programming is required for all fellows except in the case of term time study abroad when fellows are excused from in person participation in the fellowship. Most fellowship activities do not overlap with academic classes and we do our best to avoid such conflicts.

The program provides reasonable accommodations to ensure that all nominees can participate in the fellowship’s application and interview process, and all fellows can participate in the fellowship’s programming. If a nominee or fellow requires an accommodation because of a disability, medical condition or religious practice, an interactive process will be initiated between the nominee or fellow, and the Watson staff, with the goal of determining a reasonable accommodation. Reasonable accommodations are determined on an individual basis and do not impact fellowship selection. Supporting documentation may be requested to inform the interactive process.

The Fellowship may not be deferred except in the case of a personal emergency.

After graduation, many fellows begin their careers and work in their chosen field. Other fellows begin graduate school and still others apply to competitive fellowships to enable deeper immersion in a chosen area, gain leadership skills or go abroad. Watson Fellows have gone on to become leaders in many fields.

Yes. If selected as a fellow the Watson staff will provide the relevant information to ensure you can properly file your taxes.

We strongly recommend that applicants and fellows are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.