Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship – The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship provides graduating seniors with a one-year grant for independent, purposeful travel outside of the country in order to develop their leadership skills, creativity, and resourcefulness as well as to promote their humane and productive engagement with the global community.

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

The Foundation’s vision and values stem from the conviction that cultivating leaders with a wider range of perspectives will help them become more compassionate and productive.

About the Watson Fellowship

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue your global interests after college and before starting a career. Fellows create original projects, carry them out abroad for a year, and enjoy the journey that results.

They choose where to go, who to see, and when to change their plans. Fellows are not associated with academic institutions and are not required to have a job.

The program aims to give you a year to gain personal understanding, perspective, and confidence that should help fellows shape the course of their lives. Leaders from every industry make up the Watson Fellows, which was founded in 1968. 

The stipend for a year is $40,000.00. The foundation also offers health insurance, the equivalent of one year’s worth of payments on outstanding institutional and federally guaranteed loans (Perkins, Stafford), and an extra stipend for the support of Personal Assistance Services (PAS) or a spouse (all through reimbursement). Candidates must be nominated by partner colleges.


How Does One Apply for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

  • All Wellesley College applicants must go through the campus review and nomination process in order to apply as all Watson applicants must be nominated by a participating institution.
  • Each year, Wellesley may submit a maximum of four applications for consideration in the national competition.
  • Please send an email to to access the official online application system. 
  • Remember that during the fellowship year, you are not permitted to travel to previously visited nations, to your home country if you are an international student, or to the United States at any time.  Please take note of Watson’s guidelines for acceptable travel destinations here on their website under “Fellow Expectations,” as well as additional information in their FAQs. 

Application Checklist

For consideration, kindly do the following:

  • Complete your application in the official online application system, but DO NOT SUBMIT IT.
  • Send in more information using this Google form.
  • Obtaining private references:
  1. Only one reference, from a current Wellesley faculty member, is needed for the campus application process, and it must include responses to the questions listed here.
  2. Should your application be selected to advance to the national competition, you will also need to provide a second reference by the beginning of November—possibly from a manager or mentor outside of Wellesley.

Selection Process

Programs Funded

Each recipient of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship receives $40,000 (more if traveling with a spouse or dependents), plus payment for one year’s worth of outstanding federally guaranteed student loan balances. 

The proposed projects ought to demonstrate a sincere interest in and steadfast dedication to a particular issue. The project need not be associated with any past or future academic endeavors. There is no room for formal education or organizational membership.