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Switzer Fellow

Applications are now being accepted for 2023 fellowships! The deadline to apply is January 9, 2023.  

Visit How to Apply to submit your application. Please read all of the following guidelines and eilgibility requirements before applying.

The Switzer Fellowship offers one-year fellowships to highly talented graduate students from diverse academic and personal backgrounds in New England and California whose studies and career goals are directed toward environmental improvement and who clearly demonstrate leadership in their field. The fellowship includes a $17,000 cash award, leadership training, access to a vibrant network of Switzer Fellowship alums, and opportunities for professional development and grants beyond the fellowship year.

Through the Switzer Fellowship, the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation supports environmental leaders for the 21st century who have the ability, determination and integrity to effect positive change. Only the most active, committed and focused individuals will compete successfully to join the Switzer Network of more than 700 fellows selected since 1986.

Switzer Fellows are on the leading edge of environmental and social change through efforts in environmental science, policy, justice, public health, economics, journalism, urban planning, business, law and more.  Switzer Fellows come from diverse social, academic and economic backgrounds. They are committed to interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral work, applied results, and collaborative leadership. Further, they are committed to their own professional development and to continually improving their leadership skills throughout their careers. Please check out the 2022 Switzer Fellows for examples of the breadth of expertise and disciplines of our fellows.

Fellowship Benefits and Expectations

The fellowship includes a $17,000 cash award to be paid in two installments, in June and January. Fellows are expected to participate in two multiday retreats which focus on building connections among fellows and provide fundamental leadership skills development.  Applicants for the fellowship must be able to commit to attending the retreats during their fellowship year. The Switzer Fellowship also offers a variety of professional and leadership development resources to fellows throughout their careers, as described below.

The Switzer Network

A significant and valuable aspect of the fellowship is the Switzer Network. This network is a system of support and exchange for the more than 700 Switzer Fellows located throughout the U.S. and around the world. The network provides a vibrant connection among Switzer Fellows and other leading environmental practitioners. The goals of the fellowship network are to:

  1. Develop a community of Switzer Fellows who share in training, leadership, and networking opportunities, and facilitate their support of each other.
  2. Foster collaboration among fellows and promote peer-to-peer learning and innovation.
  3. Support and reinforce career development for the community of Switzer Fellows.
  4. Assist Switzer Fellows in achieving positions of leadership and visibility in order to increase their effectiveness.
  5. Provide an interdisciplinary source of expertise from which organizations, government agencies, policymakers and media contacts can draw when expertise on an environmental issue is needed.

Ongoing network activities include networking calls and convenings, collegial information exchange, professional skills training, informal social gatherings, and collaborative grant opportunities. See Find An Expert to learn about fellowship alumni and their work.

Career support and mentoring

Foundation staff and fellowship alumni provide career coaching, mentoring, and leadership guidance to fellows at any time during their fellowship year and beyond. Foundation staff will help identify leadership development opportunities to best prepare fellows for their chosen career path.

Other grant programs

Once they have fulfilled their fellowship year requirements, Switzer Fellows have access to three other Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation grant programs aimed at supporting and enhancing their leadership skills and professional development. The Leadership Grant program is available to fellows who have completed their studies and wish to partner with a nonprofit or public agency to contribute leadership and expertise on a project or help create a position that applies their professional skills and leadership to a critical environmental issue. Network Innovation grants are available for collaborative projects involving two or more Switzer Fellows working across sectors to approach an issue from multiple angles. This program is designed to foster innovation and collaboration among fellows, tapping the Switzer Network’s collective potential for advancing progress on an issue. Professional Development Grants are available to fellows after their fellowship year to attend trainings or conferences that will advance their professional skills and standing.

HideEligibility Requirements

Applicants for a Switzer Fellowship must:

  • be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, a resident by virtue of the Dream Act of 2021, or a refugee or asylee according to the definition provided by the United States Department of Homeland Security (international students are ineligible);
  • be enrolled in an accredited graduate institution ONLY in California or one of the six New England states (ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI) and plan to be enrolled as a full-time student for the entire 2023-2024 academic year;
  • have very strong academic qualifications, with academic and career goals focused on environmental improvement.
  • Master’s degree candidates (including JD students) must have completed at least one semester or quarter of course work to apply, and be seeking the Master’s as their terminal degree.
  • Individuals enrolled in one-year Master’s degree programs may apply prior to enrollment, but must be formally accepted into their program to be eligible for a Switzer Fellowship interview (held in May).
  • Master’s degree students planning to pursue a Ph.D. are advised to wait until they are in their Ph.D. program to apply.
  • Applicants at the Ph.D. level must plan to have completed at least three years of doctoral work or plan to have passed their qualifying exams by July 1, 2023. Ph.D. candidates with a clear research and career focus are more competitive than individuals who are still undecided or early in their academic program.
  • Midcareer students are welcome to apply and must demonstrate how their academic program will enhance their effectiveness as an environmental leader.
  • Internships
  • Anywhere

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