Atlas Corps Fellowship (USA)
Atlas Corps is an overseas fellowship for the world’s best nonprofit leaders. Our mission is to address critical social issues by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and promoting innovation through an overseas fellowship of skilled nonprofit professionals. The Atlas Corps Fellowship typically lasts 12-18 months. (For those serving in the United States, opportunities start in January, May, September.) Fellows serve full-time at Host Organizations, develop leadership skills, and learn nonprofit best practices through the Atlas Corps Global Leadership Lab professional development series and networking opportunities with other Fellows who are skilled nonprofit professionals from around the world. This prestigious fellowship includes health insurance, enrollment in Atlas Corps Global Leadership Lab, flight and visa costs, and a living stipend to cover basic expenses (food, local transportation, and shared housing).
Eligibility for the Atlas Corps Fellowship
- Two or more years of relevant experience
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- English proficiency (oral, writing, reading)
- Age 35 or younger
- Apply to serve in a country other than where you are from (U.S. citizens are not eligible for the U.S. Fellowship – check out our Fellowship in Colombia!)
- Commitment to return to your home country after the 12-18 month Fellowship
- Commitment to living on a basic stipend that only covers food, shared housing, and local transportation
For more explanation of these requirements, check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.
We consider applications on a rolling basis. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to be considered for Host Organization placements, which begin in January, May, or September. The application is a multi-step process.
- Online Application – Part 1: You will need to create a login and you can save your responses so you can return to the application at any time. In Part 1 of the application (known as the “short form”), you provide contact information and complete the initial eligibility test, and if you pass the eligibility test, you’ll complete additional background questions and one short essay.
NOTE: In order to sponsor candidates to come to the United States for one year as a Fellow, we require detailed information about each applicant. Please answer each question honestly and thoroughly. If you are found to be dishonest in the application, you will NOT be accepted as a Fellow and you will be sent home if you have been accepted.
- Online Application – Part 2 (by invitation only): Atlas Corps will review Part 1 applications and invite eligible candidates to complete Part 2 of the application (known as the “long form”), which includes additional questions about your skills and interests and several short essay questions. You will also be required to submit contact information for at least two references who know you in a professional capacity and will write a letter of recommendation about your skills and experiences as well as your potential for success as an Atlas Corps Fellow. You will need to send your requests for letter of recommendation directly through the application system. Your recommenders will receive an email that asks for a recommendation. More detailed instructions can be found in the online application form.
- Atlas Corps Review Process (by invitation only): Atlas Corps will review Part 2 applications and select top candidates to interview via Skype with the Atlas Corps Selection Board, including Atlas Corps staff and nonprofit sector, government, and business leaders from multiple countries.
- Host Organization Review Process (by invitation only): Candidates who pass the Atlas Corps interview stage will be designated as Semi-Finalists, which means they are eligible to be reviewed by potential Host Organizations for placements based on their interests and skillset and the organization’s needs. Host Organizations will conduct Skype video interviews with selected Semi- Finalists.
- Selection and Visa Process: Host Organizations will make their final recommendations to Atlas Corps, and Atlas Corps will notify the selected candidates. After being selected, Fellows will go to the U.S. Embassy in their respective countries to apply for a J-1 visa. Atlas Corps will provide support in obtaining this visa.
Semi-Finalists who are not selected by a Host Organization will be notified and may be given the option to keep their application on file for consideration for the next class of the Fellowship.
Atlas Corps receives hundreds of applications each month, so each of the steps listed above may take approximately 1-3 months. Most applications are reviewed within two major vetting periods each year. Occasionally Atlas Corps may “fast-track” applications for special opportunities, but in most cases, the vetting process will take several months overall. You may apply at any time and be considered, but we encourage you to spend some time on your application, including having it be reviewed by a peer, and then submit it as early as possible and not wait for any deadlines, so that we can start reviewing your eligibility and background. See below for the approximate calendar, which is subject to change.
If you submit Part 1 of the application by June 19, 2017:
- July 10, 2017 – Approximate priority deadline to submit Part 2 of the application. Only eligible Part 1 applicants will be invited to Part 2 of the application, and the exact deadline will be listed in your invitation. If you miss this deadline, you can still submit Part 2 of the application later and be considered during the next review period.
- July-September, 2017: Atlas Corps reviews applications and conducts Skype interviews. Atlas Corps will notify candidates whether they have advanced to the Semi-Finalist stage and are eligible for placement with Host Organizations.
- Host Organization review process: Semi-Finalists will considered for placements beginning in January 2018 or later. Semi-Finalists who are not selected by a Host Organization in that class will be invited to keep their application on file for future classes.
We encourage applicants to check their email frequently for updates; otherwise they risk missing critical information or deadlines. If you are accepted to the Fellowship, there may be a quick turnaround time between your acceptance and the beginning of the Fellowship. Start dates are not flexible, and assuming your visa is approved, you must begin your Fellowship with the class to which you are accepted.
When you apply for the Atlas Corps Fellowship, you’re not applying for a specific Host Organization or a specific start date; you’re applying for the opportunity to be considered by Atlas Corps and potential Host Organizations for placements starting in January, May, or September. Semi-Finalist applications are kept on file and considered for multiple classes unless the candidate withdraws their application. In some cases, strong candidates may be selected for the Fellowship in as little as 3-4 months after they first submitted Part 1 of their application, while in other cases, strong candidates may be considered for multiple classes before matching with a Host Organization placement.
Final decisions about each class of Fellows are made approximately 4-8 weeks before the class begins. For example, the January class decisions are typically made in November; May class decisions are typically made in March; September class decisions are typically made in July. You may re-apply to our program, but you should only apply once a year, unless there is a dramatic change in your application, such as completing graduate school, winning an award, etc. If you ever decide to withdraw your application from consideration, please email email@example.com.
In addition to the classic Atlas Corps Fellowship, a series of unique initiatives complement our global exchange model. In partnership with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), we are currently accepting applications for the Atlas Corps-TIMEP Bassem Sabry Fellowship, for professionals with a background in journalism, international relations, political science, or other relevant fields, who are interested in undertaking research on the Middle East or North Africa. Read more about the selection process for this initiative here.
This special initiative has separate eligibility requirements, but does NOT require a separate application. Applicants interested in these initiatives should simply apply for our U.S. Fellowship.