Rangel Graduate Fellowship

History   |   Description   |    Eligibility   |    How to   |   Application   |    Checklist

History and Purpose

The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program is a unique partnership between Howard University and the U.S. Department of State, with strong support from the U.S. Congress. Announced in 2002 by Secretary of State Colin Powell, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, and Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, its goals are to promote greater diversity and excellence in the U.S. Foreign Service. Howard University named this program to honor Congressman Rangel for his longstanding and vocal support for showing the world the diversity that is the strength of America, as well as his example of global leadership. The program is managed by the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State.

Description of the Rangel Graduate Fellowship

Each year, the Rangel Program offers twenty graduate fellowships to outstanding seniors and graduates who want to join the Foreign Service. These fellowships help finance two-year graduate programs (up to $35,000.00 annually) in international affairs or another area of relevance to the work of the Foreign Service (such as public administration, public policy, business administration, foreign languages, economics, political science, or communications) at a graduate or professional school. The program also provides paid internships and other professional development activities to Rangel Scholars, and facilitates entry into the Foreign Service for individuals who qualify. Members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service and those with financial need are encouraged to apply. Many universities provide supplemental financial assistance to Rangel Fellows for graduate study.

Eligibility Requirements and Rules for Nomination


Applicants must have/be:

  • US citizens
  • seniors or alumnae seeking admission to a two-year graduate program, in the process of actively applying, though students need not have been already accepted to a program (Rangel fellowships apply to graduate programs in the US only)
  • a GPA of 3.2 or higher
  • plans to apply for a position as a Foreign Service officer upon completion of graduate studies
  • evidence of outstanding leadership skills
  • GRE or GMAT scores as part of application materials, whether or not the graduate program requires them
  • ability to meet medical, security, and suitability requirements for the Foreign Service

Preferred applicants will be:

  • members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the field of Foreign Service and those with financial need

The Rangel Fellowship does not require nomination from one’s undergraduate institution. Applicants are invited, however, to seek the support and advice of the Mount Holyoke College Fellowships Advisor Christine Overstreet.

How to apply

Students interested in applying for the Rangel should begin investigating graduate study programs and learning about the fellowship through the Rangel website during the summer before the fall of application. Summer is also an excellent time to prepare for taking the GRE in late summer/early fall. The Rangel application is available through the website and is submitted online. Students are invited to seek feedback from the Fellowships Advisor on their Personal Statement for the Rangel, following the timeline offered below.

Application components

  • online application form with biographical and contact information, as well as travel experience 
  • a personal statement (600 words or less) discussing applicant’s reasons for applying, interest in foreign affairs, commitment to pursue a Foreign Service career and any relevant experience or information
  • A financial statement (in 400 words or less) from the applicant that discusses her need for financial assistance to attend graduate school, including an explanation of the financial assistance received during undergraduate studies, overall education-related debt, and ability/plans to pay for graduate school independently
  • Two recommendations, consisting of a brief form to complete and a letter (applicants should give their recommenders a copy of the form from the Rangel website, although it will be completed and submitted online.
  • one recommendation should be from a faculty member who can comment on the applicant’s potential to succeed in graduate-level study as well as her personal qualities
  • the other recommendation should be from a community leader or other individual who can comment on the applicant's non-academic accomplishments and his/her potential
  • proof of US citizenship (birth certificate, passport, or certificate of citizenship)
  • Student Aid Report (SAR) generated from the FAFSA
  • GRE or GMAT scores (copy of report sent to student is sufficient)
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate study (including study abroad and summer courses)

Campus Process and Checklist

Although students may apply directly for this award without involving the Fellowships Advisor, those who wish to receive support are asked to comply with the following timeline and to give the FA a copy of their final application.

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Summer research graduate programs, prepare for GRE
Fall prepare Rangel application materials; solicit recommendations
By January 18 all applications in system are automatically submitted
  recommendations must be uploaded to Rangel system
End of February Rangel committee selects 40 finalists who are invited to come to Washington for interviews between March 11th & 13th; candidates must also prepare a writing sample (program pays travel costs within the continental US, Hawaii, and Alaska)
Mid-May Rangel fellows orientation at Howard University
Summer Rangel fellows participate in two summer internships – on Capitol Hill prior to entry to graduate school and at an overseas US embassy between graduate study years