Population Reference Bureau (PRB) is now accepting applications for its 2017-2018 Policy
Communication Fellows Program. The program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID). It is open to individuals from developing countries currently
enrolled in academic institutions pursuing doctoral programs and who
are between their 3rd and 5th year of studies. Developing-country applicants may be in any field
of study but their research focus must be related to one or more of the following:
- Family planning and/or reproductive health (FP/RH).
- Contraceptive use/behavior.
- Maternal and child health (MCH), specifically family planning/MCH integration.
- Population growth.
- Adolescent reproductive health.
- Poverty, health equity, and connections with reproductive health.
- Gender issues, specifically gender-based violence (GBV), early marriage, and male
engagement in family planning.
- Population, health, and environment interrelations.
The goals of the Policy Fellows program are:
- To understand the process by which research informs the policy environment.
- To learn how to communicate research to policy audiences in a way that encourages
- To improve participants’ communication skills using a variety of format and
The Policy Fellows program, initiated in the 1980s, has close to 400 alumni. Policy
Communication Alumni Fellows are highly respected in the field and actively engaged in advocacy work. The
program aims to bridge the gap between research findings and the policy development process.
While research often has profound policy implications, it must be communicated effectively to a
variety of nontechnical audiences in order to have an impact.
The Policy Communication Fellows Program seeks to train the next generation of leaders shaping
policy in their countries. Recognizing the wealth of expertise and experience that exists in the
Global South, the program has undergone a redesign process to bring participants closer to the
communities they seek to impact in the future. This new era of the program will host the
fellowship in a sub-Saharan African country to allow for greater South-South collaboration and
knowledge exchange. Fellows will connect with local research and advocacy experts and learn,
firsthand, relevant advocacy priorities and policy landscapes. The Policy Fellows program is
committed to providing an enriching, cutting-edge experience for participants that reflects the
diverse and constantly evolving landscape of policy and communications.
The year-long fellowship program engages participants through a blended learning approach.
Fellows are required to attend a weeklong training workshop, complete instructional curricula
online, and submit assignments throughout the fellowship.
The program has three components:
Online Coursework: Throughout the yearlong fellowship, participants will be
required to attend short online lectures and complete associated assignments to supplement the
in-person training. Fellows are expected to join one orientation webinar prior to the summer
institute, as well as attend post-institute online lectures throughout the year.
Summer Institute: Participants will attend a weeklong policy and
communication workshop focused on the role of research in the policy process and on techniques
for effective communication of research findings to decisionmakers. At the summer institute the
participants will interact with PRB staff and local experts active in policy research and
communication. During the training, participants are asked to work with their own research data
to identify the policy relevance of their findings; Fellows will learn how to draw implications
of those findings and how to communicate them effectively to policy audiences through a variety
of platforms. The date and location of the summer institute will be announced in March, 2017.
Policy Communication Assignments: During the 2017-2018 academic year, Fellows
will apply the skills learned at the workshop to prepare written assignments and an oral
presentation for policy audiences, based on their dissertation research. Fellows will also
maintain an online presence in relevant communities of practice through blog posts, social media
engagement, and online coalition building. Throughout the assignments, Fellows will receive
individual feedback from policy communication experts on their work. The fellowship year will
culminate with a participant-lead policy and advocacy webinar series highlighting research-to-
action gaps and opportunities relevant to the Fellows’ research.
PRB covers travel, lodging, and per diem expenses for each Fellow to attend the workshop.
WHO SHOULD APPLY
All participants must be citizens of developing countries that are supported by USAID
population and health funding. You can view the list of eligible countries
In addition, participants must be currently enrolled in doctoral programs at reputable
academic institutions, and between their 3rd and 5th year of studies. PRB gives priority to
applicants whose dissertation research is focused on the topic areas noted above and who are in
an early stage of their career. This program takes place in English, and applicants must
demonstrate that they can effectively communicate their research in English through their
The deadline for applying is Feb. 12, 2017. The Fellowship awards will be announced in March
Applicants must submit the following to PRB:
- A cover letter stating why you wish to participate in this program.
- An application
- An updated resume with a full list of educational and other professional activities.
- A two- or three-page summary of the applicant’s dissertation research.
- Two letters of reference sent directly from the person writing the reference (via e-
Application forms, program information, and answers to common Frequently
Asked Questions about the program can be found on PRB’s website.
Completed applications, letters of reference, or questions about the program should be sent
via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Countries Eligible for PRB's Policy Communication Fellows Program
These are the countries that are supported by USAID Population funding as of December 2016,
and therefore are the only countries from which participants are eligible for the Policy
Communication Fellows Program.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya,
Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda,
Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, and Zambia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I’m only in my first or second year of studies in my PhD program. Can I still
A. During the Policy Fellows program, we ask participants to work with their own
dissertation research topics. For this reason, it is important that all participants have a
defined dissertation topic, preferably one that has been approved by his/her doctoral committee.
Many participants already have preliminary results from their research. Students who meet this
requirement are generally entering their 3rd to 5th years of study. On occasion, students in
their 1st or 2nd year can also meet these requirements. If you don’t think you are far
enough into your proposal to apply this year, we encourage you to check back and consider
applying for the program in the next year.
Q. I am entering my 6th (or more) year of study in my PhD program. Am I eligible to
A. If you are still enrolled in your PhD program, you are still eligible to apply to the
Policy Fellows program. During the selection process, we tend to give preference to those
students who will remain enrolled throughout the academic year. Please be sure to note your
anticipated graduation date as requested on the application form.
Q. My dissertation research does not fit within the list of topics you provided, but I
am sure that this program will be very beneficial to me. Can I still apply?
A. PRB’s funding for this program comes through the Office of Population and
Reproductive Health (OPRH) at USAID. Therefore, we are limited to accepting participants whose
research topics pertain to the objectives of the OPRH. Relevant areas of research are listed on
the program announcement and main Fellowship webpage.
Q. I am a citizen of a country that is not included in your list of developing
countries that are supported by USAID. Can I still apply?
A. PRB’s funding for this program comes through our PACE Project, funded through
the USAID OPRH. As such, we are only able to support students who are from USAID family planning
priority countries. If your country of citizenship is not included on the list of countries with
USAID Population and Reproductive Health programs, you are not eligible for this program. You can
check the list of countries above.
Q. I am currently enrolled (or about to enroll) in a Master’s program. Am I
eligible for this program?
A. Unfortunately, at this time only students who are enrolled in PhD or Doctoral
programs are eligible for this Fellowship.
Q. I am a citizen of a developing country who has already completed my PhD. I am now
working as a researcher, and I can see that this program would be very beneficial to me. Can I
A. The Policy Fellows program is designed for students who are currently pursuing their
PhD. If you are not currently enrolled as a student in a PhD or Doctoral program, you are not
eligible to participate.
PRB periodically offers similar workshops, specifically designed for in-country researchers
and professionals, around the world. You can check our website, www.prb.org, to see if any
workshops are coming up in your country.
Q. I have been accepted as a PhD student at a reputable university, and I plan to
research a topic related to your list. Can I apply for the Policy Fellows program now?
A. We require participants in this program to be currently enrolled in PhD or Doctoral
programs, with a defined topic for their dissertation research. Most often, students meet this
qualification during their 3rd to 5th years of study. It is important that participants are
already enrolled and pursuing their dissertation because we ask you to work with your
dissertation topic and anticipated or preliminary results during the workshop.
Q. The application form asks about my proposed topic of research for the Fellows
Program, and we are required to submit a 2- to 3-page summary of our research. Can you provide
any more guidance about this?
A. During the summer institute, we ask all participants to work with their research
topics, including the preliminary or anticipated findings. We want these exercises to be relevant
to you, so we generally ask participants to focus on their dissertation topics. Some applicants,
however, find that there is one particular aspect or question in their dissertation that is most
relevant for policy and the research areas required for this workshop. In those cases, applicants
may choose to focus on that one particular element of their research in the proposal and
application form. Others may choose to submit a 2- to 3- page summary of their entire
dissertation topic. The choice is up to you. We discourage applicants from proposing entirely new
research questions for this Fellowship.
You should list the title of your research on the application form. In the 2- to 3- page
summary, you should try to include a brief summary of the background, methodology, anticipated
results, and potential policy relevance of your topic. We ask that all applicants stay within the
3-page limit. You can choose to submit this proposal either single- or double-spaced. Endnotes
and/or references are not included in the 3-page limit.
Q. To whom should I address the cover letter, one of the required application
A. You can address the cover letter to the Selection Committee, or Members of the
Selection Committee. The Selection Committee is comprised of representatives from both PRB and
Q. The Fellowship announcement says that PRB provides accommodation during the
institute. What kind of accommodation can we expect?
A. During the summer institute, participants will stay in a hotel or dormitory very near
to the workshop location. Fellows typically share rooms (2 per room). A per diem allowance is
provided to cover meals and incidental expenses.
Q. I noticed past programs were held in the United States. Will there be an
opportunity for participants to travel to the United States during the fellowship?
A. The purpose of the program is to train future leaders in policy and advocacy skills that
can be used to impact population and reproductive health in participant’s home countries.
The program has undergone a redesign process to highlight the wealth of knowledge and expertise
thriving in countries outside of the United States and leverage on-the-ground relationships and
experiences to enhance the summer institute. The program will support participant to travel to
the summer institute, which will now be held in a sub-Saharan Africa country. The program no
longer funds travel to the United States.
Q. How time-intensive is the online coursework component of the program?
The online coursework will be in the form of short modules and webinars, lasting approximately
one hour. Reading in advance of webinars, and short assignments afterward, will be required.
Students should be available at the scheduled times for webinars and complete modules on time.
The program recognizes students have many demands on their time throughout the school year and
will be mindful of scheduling webinars and online assignments.
Q. How will I know my application and reference letters have been received?
Participants will receive an email confirmation once a completed application, including two
letters of reference, has been received. It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure
the individuals writing the letters of reference submit by the deadline.