One of the top reasons an otherwise eligible application for the William D. Clarke, Sr. Diplomatic Security Fellowship gets rejected is missing documents. This could be a missing Letter of Recommendation, missing transcripts or missing financial forms. Use this guide to help prepare for the William D. Clarke, Sr. Diplomatic Security Fellowship application. This will ensure that you have everything in place before the application deadline date. Some required items may take longer to get than others. For example, we suggest that you ask the person who will write your Letter of Recommendation in advance, rather than when you are ready to submit the application. Let’s get started!

    1. Review the Physical Readiness Test Guide and Standards, and watch the Video. If you are selected as a finalist, you’ll have the opportunity to take the PRT as a baseline. While your PRT results are not used for selection, your results will help you understand if you need additional training to pass the pre-employment PRT at the end of the fellowship program. You should start training and practicing now.
    2. Read the Eligibility Requirements, Fellow Obligations, and the Overview of Clearances in the application closely. Make sure you’re clear on what the program entails and what’s required of you.
    3. Request a Letter of Recommendation from someone who knows you well. It’s best to ask someone for this letter now instead of when you are ready to submit the application, to ensure that they have plenty of time to craft the letter. If you’ve been in school in the past two years, the letter will preferably come from a professor or faculty member. Your recommender will submit the letter through the application portal, not directly to you. Once you submit their name and email address in your application, you cannot change it. They will immediately be sent an email from Clarke DS

    TIP: A personal letter from someone who knows you well will be much stronger than a letter from a well-known person, who doesn’t know you very well!

    1.  Request your unofficial school transcripts for all institutions you’ve attended for two semesters or more. Don’t forget to include study abroad or college exchange programs.
    2. Start gathering the financial documents that you’ll need:
      • Student Aid Report (or SAR) from the current academic year (SARs are generated by completing a FAFSA.)
        • You can access all of your Federal financial aid information by logging into your account at
        • If you do not have a SAR from the 2023-24 FAFSA Form, you will need to complete the 2023-24 FAFSA to get a SAR.  Do this now because it takes time for the SAR to be sent to you. Do not complete the new 2024-25 FAFSA Form.  If you access the FAFSA 2024-25 website, you’ll see the buttons to click for the 2024-25 FAFSA, and below the buttons, there is a link: “Start or Edit a 2023-24 FAFSA Form.” Please click that link to access the 2023-24 FAFSA Form.
      • If you’re in college (during the application process), you will need a copy of your financial aid award letter for the current academic year.
        • You may be able to access this via your school’s online portal, under financial aid or student payments.
        • If you’re having trouble locating your financial aid award, reach out to your Financial Aid Office on campus and they will be able to print and/or send you a new one.
    3. Write your Personal Statement (750 words or less). Read the article on Tips for Writing an Impactful Personal Statement to help you develop a first draft. Ask a friend, professor, or mentor for feedback, and continue honing your statement until you are ready to submit the application.
    4. As you wait for feedback on your Personal Statement, write your resume. Read the article on How to Highlight Leadership Skills on Your Resume. Ask your mentor or your college’s Career Services Office to proof your resume and provide feedback.
    5. Provide financial information to help the selection panel understand your financial situation. The selection panel factors economic status into the selection process. It is interested in learning of backgrounds that show financial disadvantage or applicant’s need to secure non-family economic assistance to attend graduate school. There are many different manifestations of financial need, including reliance on grants and loans as an undergraduate student, accumulation of significant student debt, the need to work while in school, lack of family resources, choice of less expensive schools, and/or discontinuation of family support for graduate school. Be sure to:
      • Answer financial questions in the application, based on the information in the FAFSA. You should use financial data in the most recent FAFSA per FAFSA requirements.
      • Submit the Student Aid Report generated from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
      • Submit documentation from your university that shows financial assistance you received during your undergraduate years (if applicable).
      • Write a statement that explains your situation – focusing specifically on financial need. The most useful statement clearly and concisely explains your need for financial assistance for graduate school and any plans for covering these costs. Use quantitative data whenever possible, including specific data on financial assistance received during undergraduate school and outstanding education-related debt. You can highlight overall family economic status, as well as your personal situation, e.g., work during school, low-paid service positions, or financial obligations. This is your chance to make your case. Your statement must be no more than 400 words.

    Final tip: Don’t miss the April 29, 2024, 11:59 pm (EDT) deadline! Submit your completed application well before the final hour. Applications submitted after the deadline date will not be considered.