Eligibility Requirements for the Clarke DS Fellowship

The Clarke DS Fellowship is designed as a two-year cohort model with an annual application period. The application for the 2025 cohort closed on April 29, 2024. The next application cycle will be for the 2026 cohort and will open in early 2025. The application dates will be posted here and on the Apply page.

To apply for the 2026 cohort, you must meet the eligibility requirements below:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be at least 19 years old and no older than 32 years old when you apply (except for preference-eligible veterans).
  • Be planning to begin a two-year full-time master’s degree program starting in fall 2026 at a U.S.-based accredited institution.
  • Be on a timeline to graduate with your master’s degree in spring 2028, after attending four full-time (fall and spring) semesters during your two years of the fellowship.
  • Hold a minimum cumulative 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale (from college/university-level courses) at the time of application and maintain this GPA throughout the program.

If you are selected as a finalist, you must:

As a Clarke DS Fellow, you must:

  • Receive and maintain a Top Secret security clearance.
  • Maintain eligibility for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI).
  • Meet a minimum medical qualification standard, including supplemental physical qualification standards specific to Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Special Agents.
  • Pass a Suitability Review
  • Fulfill the two summer practicum obligations (the first one in the summer after selection, the second one in the summer after your first year of graduate school).
  • Maintain your status as a full-time student (fall and spring semesters) in your approved degree program.
  • Maintain a minimum 3.2 GPA and stay on the two-year timeline to graduate with your degree.
  • Pass a pre-employment Physical Readiness Test (PRT) prior to receiving a final offer of employment and onboarding as a DSS Special Agent.
  • Take the Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test (DSSAT) and the Foreign Service Specialist Assessment (FSSA), and pass these by the end of your three-year commitment as a DSS Special Agent.
  • Agree to a three-year commitment with the Foreign Service as a DSS Special Agent upon successful completion of the program and the State Department’s requirements.
  • Be prepared to enter the Foreign Service as a DSS Special Agent immediately after successful completion of the fellowship program and Foreign Service entry requirements.

Once appointed as a DSS Special Agent, you will be required to successfully undergo and pass a rigorous training program, including:

  • Criminal investigative training and certification.
  • Firearm training and qualification.
  • Physical readiness standards and tests.
  • Specialized driving tactics and defensive techniques.
  • Specialized training in the protection of dignitaries, diplomatic facilities and sensitive information.