Catholic Relief Services Fellowship

The Catholic Relief Services International Development Fellows Program (IDFP) is a unique professional development opportunity for individuals dedicated to pursuing a career in international relief and development work.

During the 12-month fellowship period, fellows build their skills in programming and operations by taking leading and supporting roles on a variety of CRS projects overseas, completing a structured training program, and learning from experienced CRS staff and partners.

The fellowship program is designed to prepare fellows for success in a range of onward positions with CRS, by providing foundational training in:

  1. Project management (activity planning & implementation, monitoring, evaluation, accountability & learning, budget and resource management, reporting, etc)
  2. Project design and proposal development (participatory design, problem analysis, results framework, theory of change, technical and cost applications, etc)
  3. Systems & Operations (procurement, supply chain and logistics, human resources, finance, risk & compliance, staff safety & security, etc)
  4. Partnership (partnership assessments and strengthening, capacity building, joint planning & implementation, etc)

To complete the foundational training, fellows are assigned a variety of hands-on, practical assignments in each of the four learning areas. For example, current fellows are leading the start-up of new emergency response projects, conducting gender audits for integrated development programs, supporting the design of new projects, serving as acting procurement manager, overseeing rapid assessments, developing accountability frameworks, and much more. All fellows complete a comprehensive orientation, including security training, before relocating overseas.

IDFP Application

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.

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

  1. Prepare a statement of interest (preferably no more than one page) that answers the following two questions:
    1. Considering the 4 primary learning areas of the fellows’ foundational training, what relevant experience can you leverage to be successful in the program?
    2. Which of the 4 primary fellowship learning areas interests you most and why?
  2. Update your resume or CV to highlight your relevant experience and qualifications
  3. Complete the IDFP application

The IDFP application will be open until November 1, 2019.



  • 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
  • Able and willing to be based in locations with tropical and infectious diseases and limited access to medical facilities 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



Jerusalem's Old City.

Jerusalem’s Old City. Photo courtesy of Maggie Holmesheoran

How many fellows do you select each year?

CRS hires around 20 fellows each year.

When will I know if I am accepted?

After the application closes in November, strong candidates will begin advancing through the various stages of the selection process (application review, video interview, English writing assessment and foreign language test). In January, the top 35-40 candidates will be invited to the in-person interviews at CRS Headquarters in Baltimore. CRS will make fellowship offers to successful candidates in February or March each year.

How much is the fellowship stipend?

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

What kind of work will I do?

All fellows support program implementation, proposal development, operations (finance, admin, human resources, supply chain, logistics, etc) and partnership. For example, a fellow may take the lead on implementing a specific activity within a larger project, starting-up a new project, developing sections of a proposal, supporting procurement & supply chain activities, etc. Fellows may build their understanding of CRS’ programming in a variety of sectors while completing these tasks. However, the learning objectives of the fellowship focus on building skills that can be applied to a range of onward positions, rather than building technical knowledge in a particular sector.

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 Head of Programming, Head of Operations, and Country Representative. 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 skills and the needs of our 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, the International Development Fellowship may not be the best fit for you.

Will I get to travel during the fellowship?

Fellows can travel to project sites in their country of assignment. The length and frequency of travel depends on the nature of the fellow’s work. Fellows tend to spend most of their time working from the CRS office, which is usually in the capital or another large city/town. Many fellows complete a temporary duty assignment (TDY) in another country during their fellowship (but this opportunity is not guaranteed).

What will my housing be like?

CRS provides basic furnished housing for each fellow, which is usually an apartment or house near the CRS office or near the homes of other CRS staff. The fellow’s house will have electricity, running water, internet (as available) and security services (if necessary). CRS does not cover TV.

Can spouses and children accompany fellows?

Fellows are placed in accompanied posts so that they can travel with their spouse and children. CRS covers the relocation costs of dependents, and they are eligible for health & welfare benefits as well. 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. Fellows may pursue temporary duty assignments (TDYs) in higher-security settings during the fellowship if desired, and if they have completed the required CRS training for travel to these settings.

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?

Most CRS staff are not hired through the fellowship program. 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 already be qualified for program manager positions.

How many fellows continue with CRS after the fellowship?

CRS does not guarantee employment to fellows but makes every effort to find a suitable position for fellows who perform well. Fellows who are open to a variety of positions, geographic locations and settings (emergency & development contexts) usually find onward positions with CRS. On average, 75-80% of fellows move in to onward positions with the agency.

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

CRS invites fellows who perform well to apply for positions with the agency. They follow the same recruitment process as other internal staff. 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 former-fellows are in managerial roles overseas (program managers, Heads of Programs, Country Representatives, technical advisors, etc).

Is the IDF program open to individuals from all countries?

Yes, individuals from all countries are eligible for this opportunity. There are no requirements in terms of nationality. You do not need to be an American citizen or permanent resident. However, all successful candidates must be fluent in English with strong oral and written communication skills. Please see the requirements section above for additional qualifications.

Will CRS cover the cost of travel for the in-person interview?

Yes, CRS will cover the cost of travel and lodging for candidates invited to interview at CRS headquarters. International candidates will be responsible for securing visas, if required.

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