Catholic Relief Services International Development Fellows Program 2018

Publish Date: Jul 28, 2018

Deadline: Nov 01, 2018

Catholic Relief Services International Development Fellows Program

The Catholic Relief Services International Development Fellows Program, or IDFP, is designed for individuals dedicated to a career in international development. While completing comprehensive training on program management and operations, fellows support CRS’ work in various sectors such as agriculture/livelihoods, health, peacebuilding, emergency response, education, microfinance, or a combination of these. The fellows’ training focuses on project management, project design and proposal development, partnership and capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, budget and resource management, supply chain and logistics, human resources and security protocols.

CRS offers 20-30 fellowships each year. Each fellow is placed in one of CRS’s overseas country programs for the 12-month fellowship. CRS determines the location by matching the fellows’ skills and experience with the country program’s portfolio and needs. Most Fellows continue to work for CRS, in a wide variety of positions, upon successful completion of the fellowship.

Application for August 2019 Deployment

The IDFP application will be open through November 1, 2018. We accept and review applications on a rolling basis. Applications received by October 8, 2018 will receive priority review.

To be considered for the program, please complete the following 3 steps:

  1. Write your cover letter (500 words maximum). The cover letter should include the following:
    a. Why you want to join CRS’ Fellows program, and why you would be a good fit for the program
    b. A relevant experience that demonstrates your understanding of the overseas work environment
  2. Update your resume or CV to highlight relevant experience and qualifications
  3. Apply to the Fellows' Program

We receive many applications—please be patient. We will be in touch by November if we are interested in having you proceed to the next stage of the process. Due to the high volume of IDFP applications, only applicants moving on the next step in the selection process will be contacted.


  • Graduate degree in field relevant and applicable to international development (e.g. Agriculture, Health, Engineering, Business, Public Administration, Finance, Supply Chain)
  • Fluency in English with strong oral and written communication skills
  • Professional proficiency in a second language (preference given to major languages spoken where CRS works)
  • At least six months overseas work or volunteer experience in a developing country (consideration given to applicants with at least five years of experience living in a developing country)
  • Strong interest in a career in development or emergency relief
  • Willing to work in various regions and developing countries around the world
  • Able to work respectfully and professionally in a cross-cultural environment

What We Offer

CRS provides IDFP participants with the following benefits:
  • Great opportunities for professional growth and development overseas
  • Stipend, allowances, and furnished housing
  • Transportation to and from the country
  • Extensive insurance coverage (medical, dental, life, travel/accident, evacuation and personal household effects)
  • Paid vacation, sick and personal leave, and 12 paid holidays
  • Language learning assistance

International Development Fellows Program FAQs


How many fellows do you select each year?

CRS accepts 20 to 30 fellows each year. We expect to select 25 fellows for August 2019.

How many applications do you receive?

In recent years, CRS has received 400 to 800 applications per year.

When will I know if I am accepted?

The selection process includes a video interview, language test and in-person interview. In January 2019, approximately 50 finalists will be invited to the in-person interviews at CRS Headquarters in Baltimore. Successful candidates will receive offers in February or March.

How can I be more competitive for the fellowship considering that there are so many applicants?

Writing skills are important, as well as strong language skills, especially in French and Arabic. The interviews are also an important opportunity for CRS to get to know you, and your long-term goals. Candidates who can show a clear interest in working with CRS, not just any relief and development organization, will stand out.

How much is the fellowship stipend?

For 2018, the stipend is $30,000. Fellows pay their portion of health insurance premiums and contribute to housing like other CRS employees. Depending on their country assignment, some fellows may receive a cost-of-living allowance.

What kind of work will I do?

While completing a comprehensive training program, fellows support CRS’ work in various sectors such as agriculture/livelihoods, health, peacebuilding, emergency response, education, microfinance, or a combination of these. The fellows’ training focuses on project management, project design and proposal development, partnership and capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, budget and resource management, supply chain, logistics and systems management, human resources and security protocols.

What countries can I work in?

The list of country programs hosting fellows changes from year to year. We place fellows in all regions where we work, with the greatest number of positions in Africa. Please see more information on the Fellowship for the countries that have hosted fellows in recent years.

I am focused on a particular region and/or sector. How likely is it that I will be placed in that region or have a placement that matches my focus area?

CRS sees the fellowship as an opportunity to recruit individuals who can grow into senior management positions such as Heads of Programming, Operations, and Country Representatives. Because of this purpose, less focus is placed on developing a sectoral expertise and more focus is placed on developing strong managerial skills. Fellowship placements are based on language first, then the experience of fellows and needs of the country programs. CRS is searching for candidates who will be strong managers, regardless of their geographical or sectoral preference. We do not guarantee a sectoral or regional match. If this is important to you above all else, then the International Development Fellowship may not be the best fit for you.

Will I get to travel?

Fellows’ assignments vary depending on the needs of the country's programs. Fellows generally travel regularly within their country of placement. Many fellows will also complete a temporary duty assignment in another country, but this is not guaranteed.

What will my housing be like?

CRS provides safe, basic furnished housing for each fellow. CRS fellows have a standard of living that could be described as above that of Peace Corps volunteers but below that of someone in the Foreign Service. You will have electricity, running water and security services, if necessary. You will have internet (as available), but not TV.

Can spouses accompany fellows?

CRS will cover the costs of airfare, insurance and immunizations for accompanying spouses and dependents. As a Catholic agency, we cannot cover the costs of non-married partners.

Will I be placed in a dangerous location?

The safety of staff is CRS’ top priority. Fellows are placed in non-danger pay locations. CRS continuously monitors safety and has a standard protocol for heightened security levels. Because safety and security change over time, you may be asked to relocate if the security levels increase in your country program.

Does CRS help defer student loan payments?

Deferment decisions are made at the discretion of lenders. CRS will provide documentation regarding participation in the program and the stipend amount. Fellows have received deferments in the past.

Do I have to be Catholic to advance in my career at CRS?

Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. Our Catholic identity is at the heart of our mission and operations. We welcome as a part of our staff and as partners people of all faiths and secular traditions who share our values and our commitment to serving those in need.

Would I be qualified for a regular CRS position in the field or do I have to do the fellowship first?

Candidates who have a master’s degree, proficiency in major languages spoken where CRS works, and significant overseas experience (often with a focus on a particular sector or technical area), may be qualified for program manager positions. Qualified individuals who do not find an appropriate job opening often apply for the Fellowship and begin their career with CRS this way.

How many fellows continue with CRS after the fellowship?

CRS does not guarantee employment to fellows. However, every effort is made to find a suitable position for a fellow who performs well. Typically, more than 80% of fellows have found regular employment with CRS after their fellowship.

What is the process for working with CRS after the fellowship?

All fellows who are approved as ready to successfully assume program manager responsibilities are invited to apply for positions with the agency. Please see more information on the Fellowship for some examples of positions that fellows have assumed upon completion of the fellowship.

How long do staff members remain in CRS positions?

A career with CRS usually consists of many subsequent international postings. Each international posting usually lasts from 2 to 5 years, depending on the position.

What kind of career path can I expect as a CRS employee?

There is no one career path within CRS. Many fellows follow a managerial path of Program Manager I, Program Manager II, Head of Programs, and Country Representative. However, some fellows seek technical advisory positions such as Regional Technical Advisor for a particular sector. Often, technical positions require qualifications beyond what is required for the fellowship. Occasionally graduating fellows move into positions at CRS headquarters in Baltimore; however, this is not typical.


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